[Interview] A Gentleman’s Tale co-founder Lyn Chan on innovating and building a successful start-up in Singapore
People often associate tailoring as an antiquated trade. A Gentleman’s Tale is breaking such misconceptions by breathing life into the trade with their bespoke mobile tailoring services. Known for its innovative twists and fine craftsmanship, A Gentleman’s Tale brings a whole new definition to the meaning of convenience in the tailoring world.
Born out of love
The idea for the start-up began when co-founders Lyn Chan and Kenneth Chia had a simple sit-down in 2015. “A Gentleman’s Tale started from a conversation that were along the lines of what we were both doing, what we used to do, and what we would love to do,” Chan revealed.
“Few months down the road from that conversation, we started A Gentleman’s Tale with considerations of how do we bring convenience to our customers while keeping a low start-up cost. A Gentleman’s Tale is born out of love: love for having someone look good which would give them confidence and gives us a sense of fulfilment, love for design and creation that we can share with others, [and] love for growing a seed of an idea into a business.”
This idea took off, with research and careful planning forming the start-up’s success. “When we first starting planning the business model for A Gentleman’s Tale, it was targeted at the male population,” said Chan. “We researched and got feedback from our friends on what were the top three considerations for them while searching or engaging a tailoring service. Convenience came up as the top consideration repeatedly and we designed our business around that.”
Staying on top of the game
Part of A Gentleman’s Tale success factor can be attributed to their endless creativity when it comes to their business. The trailblazing start-up is not afraid to experiment and set forth new innovative ideas.
Chan reminisced: “We started off as mobile tailors bringing our cabin luggage and travelling on public transport to visit our clients. From there, we planned out the finances of our business and worked out the amount we required to put a deposit on a van, thereafter working towards the first goal of purchasing a van. Once the van was purchased and customised to our needs, we became Singapore’s first mobile tailoring showroom.”
To Chan, it’s also important to have a unique twist in order to stand out from a sea of competitors. “We believe that we stand out not just of the mobile tailoring service that we offer but also our style(s) and personality. Our clients dubbed us or introduced us as the ‘hippie’ tailors as we are known for our quirkiness and fun elements found in the smallest details. We are able to customise anything that a client wants (within construction means), as we tailor everything from scratch without the use of any templates or pre-existing moulds.”
Amplifying the unique selling point (USP) of the business and building a cohesive brand identity is definitely crucial for success as well. A Gentleman’s Tale’s USP factors in through “our mobile service and the sense of cosiness when you step into our premises”.
Chan elaborated: “Every business should identify how they are different and stay true to that without conforming to what society [has] deemed is the norm and trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing.”
Overcoming challenges at the start
The road to success is never a straightforward path, and A Gentleman’s Tale has had its fair share of challenges as well. “When we first started being mobile tailors without a physical space, fabric suppliers were hesitant to work with us as we didn’t have the credentials and a fixed location,” said Chan.
“We had to purchase our fabrics at a higher price. This provided us a lesson in building relationships, in sharing with others our ideas, and building their confidence in us.”
The co-founder also recalled the gritty early days of the start-up. “At the beginning, our time management and schedule planning were very important as we only relied on public transport and had to be mindful about that,” she said.
But instead of viewing the hardship as misery, Chan perceives it as a learning opportunity. “That was a challenge as we had no control over certain delays, but it was also a lesson in time management which we are grateful for up till today.”
In the beginning, the start-up relied on word-of-mouth instead of social media. Whilst it was tough, it also allowed them to master the finer details of the business.
“New customers were always referrals from existing customers, which taught us to value quality and service above anything else. We think challenges are opportunities to learn; it is [a form of] training, to listen to what is going on and adapt and grow the business with those lessons in mind.”
Never give up on chasing your dream
Citing courage, tenacity and entrepreneurial stamina as the most important elements for a successful start-up, Chan urges new business owners to consistently be on the ball. “Always listen to what the market wants and constantly tweak to meet the needs of the market,” she quipped.
“Establish a set of guiding rules for the business, for the partners, and for the staff in the business that will guide everyone through daily operations and expansion plans. Most importantly, have compassion; do not chase for success, chase for excellence [and] the rest will follow.”
On exciting things to expect, Chan teased an exciting new aspect of the business: an online collection of ready-to-wear outfits. The initial launch of the capsule collection of fabrics from Italy took place late last year, garnering well-received fanfare.
The business seeks to launch a new collection soon, this time made up of “outfits that would be suitable for work purposes, [are] able to work for a date, or a night out with friends and even appropriate for special occasions”. The new collection will launch on their new platform, AGT Basics, where orders are tailored and made on-demand.
You can shop all the exciting forthcoming collections from AGT Basics, or experience A Gentleman’s Tale impeccable tailoring service. Keep an eye out for more news on A Gentleman’s Tale on their Facebook and Instagram.
Feature image from A Gentleman’s Tale