Business/Brand name: OMNISS
Asya Ter Hovakimyan launched her ethical womenswear brand OMNISS with business partner Fang (Francisco) Zhou in February 2019.
OMNISS is an aesthetic orientated sustainable fashion and lifestyle brand driven by character focused storytelling based in East London. The product range includes jackets, tops, knits and accessories.
The business’s original inception was while Asya was studying Womenswear Design at London College of Fashion, with a mission to champion transparency in supply chain, support local manufacturing & collaborate with women-led small enterprises and craftsmen around the world to preserve the art of making and create products that tell stories beyond the seams.
“Our goal is to build a global sustainable profitable brand that redefines the relationship with customers through transformative and customisable products without compromise to aesthetics/fashion of the designs.”
Asya started making clothes when she was 8 years old & had a strong understanding of the fashion business before setting up the brand. She had interned and worked for several fashion brands and was a ghost designer for influencer and celebrity brands along with stints as events coordinator for trade shows and assistant. All of which gave her valuable insight and transferable skills to help the business.
“I had always wanted to be a fashion designer and followed my dream by moving from Yerevan (Armenia) to London to study foundation at Central Saint Martins. This is where I learnt about all the ways the industry is damaging the planet but also all the ways in which fashion has historically infuenced and changed the world. My business partner and I started showing our collaborative collections in London clubs as part of DIY fashion shows and organically, over time the side project turned into full time job “
The brands’ target customers’ are style-setters, daring dressers of the future that are not afraid to stand out. Flamboyant and stylish, yet aware of the impacts of fashion and consciously choosing the pieces they investing, the companies, businesses and people they support.
Sales are mainly direct to consumer via the OMNISS website but they also sell through 3rd party platforms and take part in multi brand pop-up shops. Around 80% of orders are from UK customers but since being active on TikTok are seeing more international orders especially from Japan.
Social media and influencer marketing have been the main tools used to drive traffic to the website but post pandemic . Key milestones include launching a new collection, changed the website, re-shoot the ecommerce products, revising the marketing plan, launched TikTok Chanel and invested in filming reels/short videos, which have started to generate sales. The intention is to take part in more physical pop ups and events to build brand awareness and loyalty.
The business was originally self-funded with Asya and her Co-Founder investing £1000 each borrowed from their parents. Sales reached over 20K in 2021 despite the challenges of the pandemic.
However further funding was required to support ongoing photoshoots, marketing and general working capital to cover the studio rent, so in July 2021 they applied for a Start Up Loan “
I knew that Fashion Angel specifically helped fashion brands access a start up loans from their work with London College of Fashion and Centre for Fashion Enterprise, so they seemed the logical Delivery Partner to work with. I found the process fairly straight forward although at the time didn’t fully appreciate why so much detail was being asked for”
“The Start-Up Loan helped us take OMNISS to take the next logical steps in growing the business. Thanks to Start -up Loan we managed to invest in areas that are crucial for the success of the brand and the support sessions were thought-provoking, offering alternative point of view on the growth routes and strategies.”
As with every business there have been challenges “Managing the cash flow through the turbulent last couple of years and the changes in consumer behaviour has been tricky, but we’ve adapted and started to add additional aftercare, repair and alterations services to be able to manoeuvre through the challenging and uncertain times.
Asya ’s advice for those starting out
1) Try, fail and learn fast . Move on faster.
2) Don’t take anything personal, be open to negative feedback, be critical but don’t overthink.
3) Find people who believe in your and your ideas
4) Don’t be obsessive about only ONE WAY to success but also, don’t spread out too much.
5) Don’t ignore data – focus on what is ALREADY WORKING, what is already making you money and scale that.
6) Minimise your overheads.
7) Be prepared that it will be hard but already remember why you started in the first place
10) Don’t forget to have fun!
Within the next 5 years OMNISS plans to have its own small scale production factory and be fully circular offering repairs, recycling services in addition to selling remarkable fashion pieces They would also love to have a physical space that’s become a hub and meeting point for sustainable style-lovers.
Follow Asyer’s journey on https://omnissworld.com/ Instagram @omniss
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