Interview: Emcee Couture
Mei Chi, a self-taught tailor with some help from her mum started her career at a young age by creating dresses for her Barbie dolls has since grown her brand Emcee Couture from tailoring her own designs to sell on her blogshop to a growing company with a production team that offers customizations. Check out our exclusive interview with her here:
Int: When did you discover you had a passion for sewing?
MC: Well I started sewing when i was really young. I think when i was 8 or 9, I started making little clothes for my barbie dolls. Because my mum has been sewing for me pyjamas so it’s just natural to just follow her like “What can I do with the machine?” So I started to make little dresses for barbie dolls out of scraps.
Int: Did you officially took lessons or was it self-learned?
MC: It was all self-taught and my mum have some knowledge so she taught me how to use the sewing machine so that’s how i started and it got more interested and there’s actually a lot of resources that I realize online like there’s a sewing community “buddha style” I’m not sure whether you’ve heard, they got patterns, they’ve got tissue and there’s tutorials. There are plenty to learn online.
Int: What/who has drawn you start with your own business?
MC: I guess in the beginning it was not the idea of starting a business. It was really just enjoying sewing. So I started off sewing and making clothes and when I was in Uni people started asking like can they buy it from me and at a point where there were blogshops coming up so I thought like “okay, maybe i can get some pocket money out of this, seems feasible”, when there’s order i make one.
Int: What was the first piece of apparel that you created?
MC: It was a checkered gingham off shoulder smoke top. I think it was 5 of the sexiest back, it was very popular smoke top so everything was elastisize so i was very keen “How can I make it?” I was very excited to make a smoke top back then it was a really big.
Int: What kind of fashion aesthetic you always go for personally?
MC: I’m always into clean cuts and also printed fabrics. It always the fabric that would attract.
Int: Do you have fashion designers that you always refer to? Or look up to?
MC: I look up to Zac Posen. I always look at the way he construct so i find that the way he does it. It is really quiet different from other designers. He pays a lot of attention to lines and details. That was very interesting to me.
Int: What type of materials do you usually work with?
MC: Actually, we don’t have 1 type that we work with all the time. We experiment with different kind of materials. So, as time goes by actually it’s quiet seasonal. As you can see, your target audience grow and you actually have to look for different kind of materials of course with the technology there is always new thing for you to experiment. Nowadays, there’s a lot of new print. New things are always exciting!
Int: How long does the process take from conceptualizing a design to producing the actual piece?
MC: All in all, I take it takes about 3 months. From playing around with ideas, what sort of design, what sort of cut you want to try with, looking for the fabric, looking for the material that sometimes take a while more and the whole process making it and then try and error, perfecting the cut. All in all until the end, it may take about 3 months.
Int: What are you focusing more on for emceecouture?
MC: Now we are trying to focus more on customization so we want to fulfill that gap in the market whereby they are still little online shops that would do customization. We offer customization whereby our pieces can be customized to your size either dual sizes or if they’re taller or shorter, we can actually make adjustment when they order. We make a new one according to what they need.
Int: How has your work evolved over the years?
MC: I would say that it has been an exponential learning curve. Every year everything changed, from how it started off as a blogshop, online shop is the not the same anymore 3 years back compared to now. So, it always so many things to learn when it comes to talking about product merchants and of course there’s thing to experiment with fabric wise, colours for season, different cuts; how it suits Asian body or different kind of body. There so many from production. When we talk about marketing, because we have an online shop we also do online as well so when it comes to online, there are so many things. Everyone talks about essential, decision marketing, how do you market yourself in social media, how do you make used of all these platforms to sell your things so many things to learn.
At the mean time we do have our production team. It’s a pretty much up and going but i still work on most area by myself. From designing, getting supplies and even preparing cuts and patterns to ensure that is what the outcome that i want it to be and to marketing and modelling, you will still see my face on the website so pretty much everything.
Int: Will you expand your business anytime soon?
MC: Yes! We are actually thinking about of course you want to build more offline presents so we think that other than because we get feedback saying that online makes them feel a bit uncomfortable with online shopping because they feel like when it comes to customization they dont where to measure and things like that. We think online shop so that they can come to do fitting for them, we do measurement so definitely we want to grow the offline presents. We also trying to surf different kind of online market. We are having a pop up store now in Sunway Pyramid. Many different things we are looking to.
Int: Fashion industry is extremely competitive. How did you sustain throughout the years?
MC: I would say… Firstly it has to be passionate, it would outweight a lot of things so if you like what you are doing being in fashion like for me is passion and of course the old cliche perseverance because it is very competitive and the minute you realize you are not working hard enough, you are just stay behind.
Int: Do you keep your creations for your own wardrobe?
MC: So I usually make for myself, I keep most of them because I only make things that I like. It has to be something that I would wear and I like to wear then only we can have other factors to design.
Int: Are there any closing comments you would like to add?
MC: Just be very sure that you are passionate about it. That is most important because that would be probably many nights that you would feel like “oh no…. This is not easy.” But at least be passionate and always persevere. Be aware whatever that is around you. Keep an open eye because that is where you get inspiration and also be aware of what is happening so that you know where you stand and where you want to go.
Get to know more about Mei Chi’s work via these links: