" It's hard to make our own independent bag brand in China, but I have a dream to make Aomos the number one high-end custom brand in China. On January 26, Zhou Xiangju, vice president of the Dongguan Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs, director of Dongguan Shunqi Handbag Industry Co., founder and general manager of the Jelly aomos women's bag brand, told China Economic Weekly - Economy.com.
The first time she did a brand in 2003, it went down the drain due to incorrect market positioning. 2013, she started the brand again, and after two years of hard work, in 2015, Zhou Xiangju's own brand was recognized by the market.
Founded Aomos high-end custom brand
From 2013 to 2014, it can still make some money in the bag industry, but Zhou Xiangju said she lost money, others do not believe; 2015, when the industry are dropped down, Zhou Xiangju said she made money, others still do not believe. This is also Zhou Xiangju's strategy of not taking the usual path.
In recent years, Dongguan and even the country's manufacturing industry are facing the pain of transformation. As the "factory of the world", Dongguan enterprises are facing an even more difficult situation, and there is even a wave of factory closures. In this big reshuffle, the survival ability of every enterprise is tested. Zhou Xiangju is walking on thin ice in such an environment and is always looking for a new way out.
In 1995, Dongguan City Shunqi Handbag Industry Co Ltd (here in after referred to as: Shunqi Company) was established in Xitou Village, Houjie Town, Dongguan City. Like many enterprises in Dongguan, Shunqi has been doing OEM production since its inception. However, as production costs became higher and higher, the company's profits continued to decline, even at a loss.
From 2013 onwards, Zhou Xiangju began to lead the company's full transformation from OEM to branding, and from PU and PVC to leather, "The two years of transformation have been very challenging, with a lot of investment".
In fact, in 2003, Zhou Xiangju tried to make branded leisure bags, but failed to do so because of the inaccurate market positioning. 2013, when she set out again, she decided to take the route of fashion and high-end custom-made. "It's hard to do low-end bags in China, and high-end tailoring may only face a niche group of people, but there is more room for development", Zhou Xiangju saw the market and decided to invest in the transformation.
In 2014, the company began internal management changes, deepening institutional reform, focusing on process management, simplifying the staff structure and strengthening fair and rationalised performance assessment. In fact, the welfare at Shunqi is much better than other factories. Each employee is given an allowance of RMB 800 for entering the factory, food and accommodation are included, the workshop dormitory is air-conditioned, there are two trips a year and a year-end bonus for a full year of work. For New Year, the company will book train tickets for the employees and send a car to take them to the railway station. In addition, the company has bought social security and accident insurance for each employee. Mr. Li, a veteran employee of the company, told China Economic Weekly-Economic.com that Zhou Xiangju treats his employees like family members, and will invite his family to dinner, and he treats Shunqi as a second home.
"The transition is very painful," Zhou Xiangju said to, due to more to do a piece of brand products, coupled with a full range of leather products, staff momentarily difficult to adapt to, efficiency decline, "35 people composed of professional pattern design department team to do brand development, the annual investment of 6 million. " This also explains why in 2013, 2014 peers in the profit and Shun Qi in the loss of reasons.
When it comes to branding, Zhou Xiangju's positioning is clear. Jelly aomos, a fashionable women's bag brand launched by Shunqi in conjunction with local British design company Texmodel Ltd. With consumer recognition of the Jelly aomos brand, Shun Qi has reached a new milestone in its development, turning its revenue capacity into a profit. Now, Zhou Xiangju is ready to launch the Aomos high-end bespoke brand in a bid to scrape out another new way of life.
"Why can't we in China have some brands to replace the foreign stuff that the Chinese are after?" With such a goal in mind, Zhou Xiangju has targeted her audience at the high-end crowd, "My goal is not to open a shop, but to go high-end bespoke to high-end clubs." Her market consideration for Shun Qi's high-end customization is, first, to send themselves, second, to send friends and relatives, and third, with the help of enterprises, high-end clubs, private and other platforms to provide proprietary high-end customization product services.
"Ride high-end clubs, high-end beauty salons platform packaged sales, here are originally high-end consumer groups, consumption of high-end brands, they have their own opinions on high-end things and relatively easy to accept." Zhou Xiangju believes that opening a high-end shop by itself is not only financially difficult but also difficult to establish a consumer base, and in addition to high-end clubs, she also put forward the concept of "as long as the business can cooperate with me". "For example, enterprises, private individuals, high-end clubs, how much consumers spend a year, these institutions can send a crocodile bag to him, and the hotel directly with our cooperation, the factory price of leather bags is also much lower."
An entrepreneurial path with several twists and turns
In November 2015, Zhou Xiangju, dressed in a beautiful dress, won the Best Temperament Award at the 19th MRS.GLOBE China Grand Final, and she was also the winner of Dongguan. However, it is such a scenic female entrepreneur on the stage, but behind the scenes, her life is full of twists and turns and exceptionally difficult.
"It's too hard, it's too difficult" is probably the life experience Zhou Xiangju had when she was very young. Born in Liu'an, Anhui Province, she had to take care of her young brother and mother who could not take care of herself. 19 years old, when her peers were enjoying the beauty of youth, Zhou Xiangju was already doing retail and wholesale business on the street and started to learn how to do business. Her neighbors could appreciate that it was not easy for her to earn money and would help her manage the store when she was not there. This experience also laid the foundation for her future business.
In 1995, at the age of 22, Zhou Xiangju and her husband took the meager funds for marriage to Guangdong and opened their first factory, which was the predecessor of Dongguan Shunqi Handbag Industry Co. When preparing, the budgeted money was spent, the factory was not yet started, and there was not even a place to eat. The shareholders in charge of logistics in the factory, every night to go to talk to the vegetable merchants, credit success, the next day to have rice for the staff to open meals.
After two years of settling down in 1995 and 1996, the business gradually took off in 1997. Zhou Xiangju worked overtime with his staff, day and night. "We all worked overtime for three days and three nights, I had no appetite for food, put the chili sauce in the workshop and ate with boiling water," it was at that time that Zhou Xiangju broke her vocal cords. What's surprising is that Zhou Xiangju was pregnant at the time and did not eat a bite of food for three days and nights, "I can't help it, I have to persevere in that situation." She is pleased that although the child in her belly also suffered along the way, but now grows not only healthy, but also smart and handsome. "The family is now very harmonious and happy, God has favored me."
In the opinion of Zhou Xiangju's husband, what he admires most is Zhou Xiangju's courage and persistence. In 2002, the company received a large order from a customer in Taiwan, the largest and solely customer at that time. But at the last minute the customer ran away due to the company's collapse, and Zhou Xiangju's company was thus in debt for more than 3 million RMB. "At that time, I thought the company was not going to last and wanted to declare bankruptcy, but she still held on in the workshop and was not willing to give up."
In 2011, Zhou Xiangju's husband joined the Lions Club and joined the ranks of helping people. Together with her husband, Zhou Xiangju went to Guizhou to visit poor children in the mountains. She deeply appreciates that there are still many people who need help in this society, "I came home and told my children that I am not just your mother anymore, because there are still many children without a mother." Now, for every bag sold by Shun Qi, regardless of the low-end high-end, 2 yuan will be taken as love money.
As the company gradually stepped into a stable development period, Zhou Xiangju's body had a lot of problems. Since 2007, Zhou Xiangju has had to take medicine almost every day. It turned out that she had tumors in her neck, breast, kidney and uterus, "Now, I have to go for physical therapy every morning." Her family advised her not to work so hard on her career, even if she stopped all her business, she would have enough money to spend.
However, standing upstairs every day and seeing thousands of people clocking in to work, she felt that the business was no longer just her own, but the reliance of thousands of employees, and she felt that she could not give up the business no matter what. "Business to a certain extent, it is not just for the livelihood of their own families, but also to take social responsibility, the business is a road that can not stop."
"My dream is to be the first brand of Chinese national people." During the interview, Zhou Xiangju repeated this phrase several times. She said she would still insist on doing her own brand and aim to be a hundred-year enterprise.