Of skills and patience: Workmanship for intricate cheongsams can cost me RM100 a day.
Whoever says traditional wear is only popular with the older set, should pay Kong Yoon Yoon
, director and chief designer of Emerald Brilliant, a visit.
Captain of a six-branch cheongsam
boutique, Kong may be 64 this year but the girls who don her outfits are half her age. Making a very sexy splash this year alone is the parading of some 100 pieces of Kong’s creations at the Miss Qipao
and Miss Malaysia Kebaya
pageants, where she has been wardrobe sponsor for two years. Her coterie of followers includes Leng Yein
, an entrepreneur and model famed for her bombshell looks.
It all began when a customer stole nine pieces of her cheongsam put up for display 40 years ago.
“She was a rich lady who drove a BMW. Story has it that she became mentally unbalanced when her fiancee went overseas. This lady came in one day with some nasi lemak
for my seamstresses and while they were distracted, she made off with my cheongsam
. She confessed later, explaining the inability to resist because the dresses were so beautiful,” recalls Kong.
Brilliant and beautiful: Sticking to her roots has paid off for Kong (in shocking pink) and her youngest son, Ryan Sim
(second from left).
Instead of taking the episode negatively, Kong decided to go into making cheongsam full time, making custom-made orders her main income churner.
“It is not unusual for us to make RM10,000 from the sale of six to seven long gowns when you factor in the embroidery and sequin work. But costs can be higher too as some requirements may take a month to complete. In such cases, workmanship alone can cost me RM100 a day,” Kong said.
When it comes to fashion, it pays to stick to one’s roots. Today, 40 seamstresses work fulltime to churn out 30 pieces a day for Kong’s outlets.
Last year, sales reportedly touched RM2.1mil and the inventory in each outlet is kept at a par of RM50,000.
When it comes to tradition, one does not necessarily need to be an old-timer to get ahead.Over at the Emerald Brilliant headquarters, though there is a big sign in her shop that says goods sold are not returnable, this will soon change.
“In our store, we have a policy — Every customer who wears ourcheongsam should elicit a lot of oohs and aahs. This, in a way, is also word-of-mouth advertising for us. If the dress does not fit, the customer will keep our cheongsam hidden in her wardrobe. If this is the case, how is she going to do word-of-mouth advertising for us?” Kong asked.
Bringing modern elements to old school designs is another factor.
Kong is one who has given this plenty of thought.
“I have more than 1,000 designs in my shop at any one time so customers will always find something they like,” she said.
Her main concern now is in improving the sizing system for a better fit.
“Currently, we only have five standard sizes, carrying a difference of 2 inches between each size. By expanding the range to 10 sizes, we’ll be able to give our customers a better fit. This will come in use when we start operations in KLIA2, where there will be little time for alterations,” said Kong.
Kong revealed how she got her youngest son, Ryan Sim
, 28, who is now marketing director interested in her business — by playing the numbers game.
“I knew if I only had one shop bringing in a revenue of only RM10,000 a month, it would not sound lucrative to him at all. So, 10 years ago, I decided to expand.
“The logic was if one shop could bring in RM10,000, then having six shops would multiply our revenue sixfold.
“That was how I got him to come in — by showing him how bright prospects can be for my cheongsam business,” smiled Kong.
Kong’s expansion plans are still ongoing as she is confident of a growing market. Her latest include the soon-to-be-opened KLIA2 in Sepang where she is seeking investors to pump in some RM300,000 as start-up capital.
A specialized Local Tailor Made Chinese Costume , Qi Pao , Cheongsam , Qun Kua , Kuan Kua , Wedding Gowns , Evening Gowns , Uniform & Others..
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金碧旗袍有限公司CHEONG SAM BOUTIQUE PERNIAGAAN EMERALD BRILLIANT SDN. BHD.
Head Quaters : No. 5M. Jalan SS2/64, 47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Tel: 03-7876 5072, 7874 7811 Fax: 03-7874 1688
Workshop : No. 5A, Jalan SS2/64, 47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Kuala Lumpur : Lot No. 5.21 Level 5, Pavilion KL Shopping Mall. Tel : 03-2142 0522
Plaza Armada: Lot 3, Plaza Armada, Lorong Utara C, Sect.52, 46200 Petaling Jaya. Tel : 03-7956 9439
1U Branch : No. F226, 1st Floor Promenade, 1-Utama Shopping Centre,No.1,Lebuh Bandar Utama, Petaling Jaya. Tel: 03-7727 5855, 7731 7449
For those who are interested, please contact us at +603-78765072(HQ)