By Ross Killion, AsAmNews Intern
Wesley Kang worked in finance after college and wore a dress shirt everyday to work. he found it difficult to find a dress shirt that actually fit his body. Most dress shirts available off the rack at retail stores are mass produced and the sizes are based on the ‘average’ American male.
Tanya Zhang, who comes from a background in advertising and user experience consulting, had a similar experience when she went shopping with her father for a new dress shirt – they simply could not find a shirt that actually fit without splashing extra money on custom tailoring.
Their experiences inspired them to launch Nimble Made, a clothing line that specializes in actually slim men’s dress shirts – more slim fit than normal slim fit. The two started the bootstrap startup in October 2018 The company is 100% online and sells direct to the consumer through their website. The shirts, available in 21 styles and 6 sizes are 100% cotton, highly durable and very easy to iron and steam.
“Women have a larger range of petite clothing options, but this is not the case for men”, says Zhang. “The larger mission of Nimble Made is size inclusion”
The idea for the company began in March 2018. While still working full-time in their corporate jobs in New York City, the two co-founders began moonlighting as entrepreneurs by designing samples and building the website. Kang, who was born in Taiwan, used his fluent Mandarin Chinese to find a manufacturer in China. It took about six months to develop a minimum viable product with the first batch available to sell on the website. The company was inaugurated in October 2018 with a launch party at a Manhattan bar where friends and colleagues toasted to the new business owners and got to have a preview of the first batch of dress shirts. An initial email list was obtained for this party.
The first year involved a lot of grassroots marketing that focused on the Asian Pacific Islander community through Asian American media and organizations in addition to Facebook ads and website SEO. As part of the company’s goal for greater representation of Asians in the fashion industry, the majority of models found on the website are Asian. Moreover, most of the stylists and photographers are also Asian.
“Sales dropped in March as Americans adjusted to life under quarantine”, says Zhang, “However, business has recovered surprisingly well in the months since”. For the coming years, the company is focused on scaling through online marketing and expanding into casual wear.
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