Your new go-to brand for style, comfort, and affordability
Digital platforms have made shopping easier, no doubt. But with so many options available, it can get quite confusing, and difficult to find exactly what we're looking for. Even more so, perhaps, for men seeking comfortable, stylish everyday wear.
Bringing a one-stop solution for just that, Plain and Simple is the new brand to look out for. They offer casual, simple, yet chic designs for you to look your best on a daily. We sat down with Yusuf Ahmed, Co-founder of Plain and Simple, for a virtual chat on how they started and what the brand stands for.
Tell us when and how you started, and what the initial stages were like.
We officially launched Plain and Simple in February 2020, but the idea had been brewing in our heads for a while since mid-2019 really. Initially, it was I, Zishan Mahmud, and a third co-founder who later left. The idea kind of grew out of my experiences at Daraz Bangladesh. I used to manage Daraz Bangladesh’s private label department, and I got a pulse for the F-Commerce and E-Commerce market of Bangladesh. The major opportunity we found was that there was a lack of standardization in the market. It was either ODC (Dhaka College) or nothing at all, if you're looking for very simple, everyday wear.
Early on, we opened with a lot of excitement and really hit the ground running. But soon after, we were hit with the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. Initially, we were very concerned. We had just launched a new business, we had a lot of inventory, and no idea of what was about to happen. But after the first few weeks, we were immensely surprised by the sharp rise in business. Our sales grew 200% and we were actually scared of running out of inventory. The accelerated growth of e-commerce and digital platforms due to the pandemic proved to be a blessing in disguise. Since then, there was no doubt that we had an incredible opportunity on our hands.
Who does Plain and Simple cater to? How do you ensure your products match the needs of your target customers?
Age-wise, we planned to cater to young people, primarily in the ages between 18 and 30. The target customers we had in mind were university students, fresh graduates, and young working professionals. Right now, the majority of our customers are between the ages of 18 and 25.
We are always looking to ensure customer satisfaction. We have a 7-day return policy, we are present-day and night at the factory floor during production, and we try to keep our prices as low as possible without compromising with the quality. We actually take time every week to go through each review our customers leave, whatever platform it’s from, and constantly use it to improve our products and services.
What makes your brand stand out from the rest?
We listen to our customers.
Our ambition is simple. From what you wear in the morning to what you wear to bed at night, we want to be your go-to everyday wear. Whenever something is wrong, we are always attentive to what went wrong, understanding our mistakes and fixing them. Our customers keep on coming back to us because of that.
What challenges have you faced in terms of the establishment of your company?
One of our problems has always been inventory fulfilment, replenishing inventory on time. At times we go a few days without having some product which customers always need because we can’t go from production to shelf fast enough.
Along with that, we have a lean team just to ensure we can pass the savings on to our customers. At times, we bite off more than we can chew, but that’s the price you pay for being an entrepreneur and wanting to make a difference.
On a side note, without our team, we couldn’t have been where we are now. Kudos to Faiza Islam, our very creative marketing manager, and Ajmain Faieq, our very hardworking customer support executive, for making all the difference.
Are there any specific difficulties that clothing brands solely operating online may face? How do you plan on tackling those issues?
At the end of the day, touch and feel is an important factor when it comes to clothing. You want to feel the fabric, the finishing, see how it actually looks, sees if it fits or not. It’s still hard to accomplish that online. For example, we’ve been planning to launch a women’s specific line, with t-shirts and casual tops, but we want to make sure that we get everything right. But a combination of multiple lockdowns, and not being happy with sampling, has caused us to push it back.
We also face some blowback from the fact we’re still operating solely online. E-commerce is still a relatively new concept in Bangladesh. If it weren’t for the arrival of Rocket Internet, Daraz Bangladesh, and eventually Alibaba, it wouldn’t have had grown to the level it has today. I urge all e-commerce players in this country, to always act ethically and professionally because trust is the most important thing we’re trying to establish now. If customers trust the ecosystem, then it’ll be easier for all good-intentioned businesses to achieve success online.
At the moment, we have some innovative marketing plans drawn up, and we want to spread our name even further. The best way to really solve this issue is by word of mouth, and ensuring your existing customers talk well about you. In the near future, we also plan to build small kiosk like shops and showrooms so customers can get a more physical experience.
What can your customers look forward to in the future?
Range expansion, for one. We will be launching a women’s line in the near future, along with expanding the current men’s line to Polos, more casual shirts, and increasing the colour range of our t-shirts. Winter will be here before you know it, and we plan to launch many items across our winter range. Once the pandemic is over, we’ll be doing a lot of physical pop-up shops and partnerships so that our clothing can make more people happy!
Finally, do you have a message for our readers?
Stay safe, buy more clothes online, and as usual, keep it simple.
Learn more on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/howikeepitsimple