Mr Chee Chon Chong: Threading Lives One Shirt At A Time
Elegance Uniforms Pte Ltd
Perhaps no other apparel can be more ubiquitous, spiffy and versatile than the humble yet indispensable shirt. Because of its high demand, the market is flooded with ready-made shirts which, while conveniently available, easily drown out in the crowd. Amidst this, one clothing and corporate apparel business stands out: Elegance Uniforms Pte Ltd. Founder Mr Chee Chon Chong shares how each shirt embodies their business philosophy and vision to “thread lives, one shirt at time.” Here, he shares his formula for success – and like his shirts, you will find that his view of entrepreneurship is refreshingly different.
From A One-Man-Operation To An Enterprise
Established in 2011, Elegance has seen steady growth. From one-man-operation, it now has its own garment manufacturing facilities, design and operations department, and its own Quality Control Process. The process ensures that production standards and product quality are consistently met and delivery to clients is always prompt and on time.
Elegance Uniforms is also the marketing and sole distribution company behind reputable brand name Cotton Planet.
Unlike off-the-rack apparel, every shirt originating from Elegance is custom-made. Explains Mr. Chee, “Clients come over and talk to us about their desired corporate shirts. We design for them.” Customisation and the quality of fabrics are the two qualities that make Elegance shirts stand out from competition. “We use higher quality of fabrics that feel soft and are more comfortable to wear,” says Mr. Chee. It’s no wonder corporate clients who need uniforms for branding or corporate events, choose Elegance to be their provider. Furthermore, most of the clients are from word of mouth referrals.
At the start, Mr. Chee sacrificed working long hours. Sleep was elusive. “Every day I reached office at 7:30 am. I leave 7:30pm. When I get home, I still continue to finish up my work for that day. Over time, I realised that there is a time for everything and a season for every activity, a time for work and a time torest. So now, come Sundays I take a break and spend time with my family.” he shares.
Apart from sacrificing time, Mr. Chee said that as a start-up entrepreneur, he was also did everything on his own. “The good thing about being hands-on is you are in control of everything from marketing to delivery. Later I realised that I was only doing sales and marketing and nobody was taking care of logistics. My mindset had to change. I can do everything, yes, but it was better to get a team. A team can achieve more.”
In the next five years, Mr. Chee envisions the company to live up to its name and indeed “clothe the planet.” He shares: “The company’s vision is “Threading Lives.” We stitch different parts of the fabric to make clothes. It is the same thing. We want our clothing business today to thread other similar businesses. As such, we continually look to develop new concepts and enhance our product line, so that we can offer a complete, one-stop solution to our clients.
With his business processes in place, Mr. Chee says that duplicating Elegance’s business model in many parts of the world is easy. “In the future it will be franchised. Everyone can make use of your proven processes to be successful. Business partners and resellers from other countries can make use of the system and maintain the same quality of shirts which we are known for.”
The Three Ps to Elegance’s Success: People, Principles And Product Innovation `
Mr. Chee shares that the secret to Elegance’s success revolves around having the right people, principles or virtues and product innovation based on sound technological systems.
He did not stop at just finding the right people; he continues to nurture them in the team.
“The first thing I look at is their spirit. Whether they have the spirit to grow and learn new things. To them, this is a new industry. We are doing new things and every day is new experience. They have to have the spirit of adventure and entrepreneurship. When they make mistakes, I will highlight to them and encourage them to learn from mistakes, move forward and continue to try new things.
Mr Chee is also committed to his staff. “Our staff have their own friends and families. While it is important to meet tight deadlines, it is even important that our staff have a good balance between work and family life.”
“Integrity is when nobody is looking; you still do the right thing. We always maintain the quality of our products even if customers presses our price. Sometimes they say, it’s too expensive just lower the quality. We don’t do it that way. We would still deliver the best quality.”
As per their commitment to excellence, Mr. Chee ensures that all designs are made with best effort. “We go to customers and understand what they want. Attention is paid to every detail.” This, Mr. Chee shares, also has practical reasons. “It is more expensive to get a reject and do things over again.”
Product innovation is at the heart of Elegance. “We will constantly come out with new designs to suit customer’s requirements. In this way, every customer’s shirt is unique.”
Word For The Rising Entrepreneurs: Dare to Try and Never Give Up
Holding the helm of Elegance, Mr. Chee is inspired to make it big to be able to help others. “I read of pioneers and philanthropists. They are businessmen and they help build hospitals, build schools and create livelihood opportunities in the community,” Mr. Chee says about what inspires him to be successful.
For young entrepreneurs, his advice is to “Keep trying and dare to make mistakes. Because being entrepreneur is not easy. We are in the new frontier and there will be obstacles along the way. Don’t be afraid and keep on trying because we know that obstacles produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope .”
Just like most entrepreneurs, Mr. Chee fears failure. But, he quickly adds a clearer perspective on this, deeper insight that not many people are able to tap into: “A greater fear is actually succeeding in something that doesn’t really matter.”
Elegance’s journey to success has inspired many lives. And this is just the beginning. Today, Mr. Chee continues to journey with excitement to bring his company to greater height. He feels a sense of pride and satisfaction to see his customers donning his shirts. Some customers become his close friends and even drop him thank you notes.
To Mr Chee, a true mark of Elegance’s success is being able to do what matters most to his customers. “What does our client want? All they want is professional looking, unique and comfortable shirts. With this in mind, we believe that integrity, commitment to excellence and innovative design is the way to go.” the successful entrepreneur shares.
Elegance Uniforms Pte Ltd67 Ubi Road 1 Oxley Bizhub #07-15 Singapore 408730 Tel:68718738 Website: www.cottonplanet.sg