SHAH ALAM: Siti Sa’adiah Yahya was considered a fashion trend setter during her university days as she was constantly bombarded with numerous questions about the outfits she wore to classes daily.
The then Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) student was often asked where she bought her fashionable clothing as well as her shawls that she donned at campus.
That sparked Sa’adiah, who back then was about to graduate with a degree in accountancy in 2011, to set up her own little business from her dormitory room where she sold shawls sourced from Masjid Jamek in Kuala Lumpur.
Sa’adiah coined her business Qaysaa which derived from the combination of names - a niece she was extremely close to named Qaseh, her sister Ayu and the first three letters of her own name.
After entering the corporate world, Sa’adiah focused on her work at an audit firm and subsequently a television provider while selling shawls on a part time basis via various online platforms.
But at the end of the day, her heart still longed for the fashion business and she decided to quit and venture into it full time.
From a university dormitory room, Sa’adiah, together with her husband, Saiful Dzulkifli evolved their business from an online presence to having a physical store in Alam Avenue 2, Section 16 in 2014.
Soon, Qaysaa will also boast its very own mobile application which is expected to be launched in November.
Sa’adiah and Saiful, back then, only had each other to run the business which specialises in Muslimah wear such as jubah, baju kurung, tops, pants as well as shawls, that takes inspiration from fashion design and styles from Central Asian countries.
Today, they have seven permanent staff running the business operations, 25 tailors as well as 50 dropshippers from all over the country.
Saiful said their Muslimah centric clothing collections attract an average monthly traffic of 50,000 while their humble, minimalist store receives about 200 customers weekly.
Qaysaa commits itself to launching two sets of brand new collections every week, once on Wednesday and once during the weekend.
There are eight new collections released monthly with 15 new designs.
In order to keep up with the fast moving fashion trends and to give their customers the latest designs, Saiful and Sa'adiah fly to Guangzhou in China thrice annually where they source for fabrics such as cotton linen, cotton, polymix as well as nylon.
Saiful and Sa'adiah's roving eyes would look for subtle and pastel colours apart from flower motives and simple designs that are not too over the top and pleasing to the eyes.
Upon returning from the trips, Sa’adiah and an in-house fashion designer would waste no time in going to the drawing board to sketch new designs.
“We take pride in our brand which centres around modern, trendy and vibrant and simple Muslimah wear. It is fashionable and our prices are affordable.
“It is easy on the wallet and we have set a combo pricing where it is cheaper to purchase two pieces of clothings - either a set of outfit that we have styled together - or simply two pieces of clothing where customers can share and purchase at a lower price.
“That pricing strategy has hit a sweet spot with our customers. This has paved the way for customers to buy more of our clothings which also turns out to be an effective marketing strategy and promotes a sense of sharing among our customers," said Saiful.
Their growing fan base sees them shipping off about 2,500 parcels, which are filled with some 8,000 pieces of clothings, to customers not just in Malaysia but also to America, United Kingdom, Dubai, Russia, Indonesia, Australia, Brunei and Singapore, on a monthly basis.
Qaysaa also makes it a point to bring their fashion photoshoots beyond the confines of their studio by going outdoors.
They have ventured far to exotic overseas destinations for their Hari Raya campaigns such as Rome and Tunisia to show that their clothing are suitable and comfortable to be worn abroad.
Coming from humble beginnings and now on solid footing, Saiful said although they are a small team, they want to inspire and encourage more people, especially youngsters, to dive into the world of online businesses and digital marketing.
They do this by giving talks and telling the story of building Qaysaa, its successes, challenges and what lies ahead, at sharing sessions at local universities and institutions.
"This is part of our corporate social responsibility efforts. I often tell students that the world of online businesses and digital marketing is the future and will fully revolve around them by the time they graduate.
“They can choose to emulate our footsteps where we not only enjoy being in the fashion industry, but at the same time we create jobs for people as well as business opportunities for others," he said.