Lulu Alhadad, a well known fashion designer for muslimah wear; I have never imagined that one day we would sit down together and have a chat! Despite her ultra busy schedule (2 businesses and 2 kids), in this peak period of Ramadan month, she still made time to meet up. What really surprised me was how sincere she is! I’m sure she doesn’t need another interview, but she was so patient to answer my questions and generously shared with me every single thing that I wanted to know. I’m very lucky to be introduced to Lulu and learned from her directly!
Lulu Alhadad, 34
Founder, Lulu Alhadad Designs
| Star Profile
| Skills and Passion
|| Life Motto
Lulu came from a family which her father is a serial businessman and mother a seamstress. When she was a kid her mum always sat down with her to show her about sewing, sometimes involved her in making clothes together. Soon Lulu started designing clothes for her family too, with 5 siblings (3 sisters) and a big extended family apparently there are enough models and demands. She was still a teenager, but was already picking up business. During secondary school time, she also designed dresses for her friends to attend prom nights. 16 years old, really? Wow!
Her fashion was highly appreciated when Lulu first started at school; with the overwhelming response she knew she would be in this field in future. Knowing that she wouldn’t want any other job, Lulu decided to pursue her passion after graduating from Temasek Polytechnic (major in finance and accounting). Through some family connection, Lulu went all the way to Indonesia to learn more about sewing, embellishments, embroidery etc. Lulu already knew about sewing, but she still spent a year there to build up solid foundation in fashion. Nobody would teach things like this in school, she saw this as an 1-year internship for herself.
Lulu Alhadad Designs was Launched!
Upon return to Singapore Lulu launched her own namesake label Lulu Alhadad. With a very small capital that she had, she spent the money to put up the first collection of 16 pieces of dresses. All sold out in 3 days! That was in 2005, where Facebook was just started and Instagram wasn’t even born yet. She was using an online social platform called Multiply (which is now not at all well-known), but her most powerful marketing and sales channel was herself. Every time she met someone (friends / family / strangers), she would share with them about her brand. Like what her husband often joked about, she could sell ice to Eskimos. She’s very confident about her own products, truly believes in what she does; that’s why she can sell well and that’s also how she gains confidence from others too.
With the success of first collection, Lulu used the profit to make the next series, and continued the same cycle to grow the business. She doesn’t believe in taking loans, hence she’s very conservative about financial expenditure, always manages company cash flow and plans things ahead. “It’s very easy to start a business, but few can last.” 11 years into business now, Lulu still manages her finance in the same way because it really works.
From Local Business to an International Brand
Lulu was the first at that time to launch a fashion line like this, which merged the best of both worlds – fashion from middle east and art from local community. Inspired by middle east fashion, she made a whole new image of the cuts to tweak them into modern yet modest styles. Her designs are very colorful and vibrant, she wanted to impart colors to daily life too. Lulu Alhadad was well received since the first day it started, just a year into business she began to hire part-timers (mostly her friends and family), and now with a few full-timers. There is no physical shop yet, everything is still sold online. But e-commerce is also the reason why she could easily expand business overseas; although, that also translates to 24/7 work hours. Nowadays her customers are from everywhere in the world, US, Europe, Australia.. even people from middle east!
Competitors are Friends!
Lulu started her second business, Lulu Alhadad Bridal after her first ready-to-go fashion business. Whenever she heard about someone else running bridal business, she often reached out and shared ideas together. The local market for Muslim bridals is relatively small, it is so important to help each other grow. Although she has her own fashion line, she still wears dresses from other brands, endorses them, sometimes shoutouts through her own social network too! It has never hurt her business. Whenever she has the time, she shares her own experience with other startups or new business owners too. “I love what I do, and I want to motivate and inspire people,” Said the smiling Lulu 😊.
- About social media
- Involve yourself in social media helps to gain traction; and stay committed in good days or bad days
- Even a bad criticism online is still a publicity!
- Although nowadays social media is free for marketing, word of mouth is still the most powerful one
- For youth / new business owners
- It’s good to dream, but more critically, take time to learn and plan things out, build a solid foundation first
- Stay very committed, don’t let the excitement get in for you
- Believe in your product, go out and start selling!
- Learn to delicate tasks to ensure things are done efficiently
- Be positive
- Every criticism is a chance to learn and improve
- Don’t brood about it, think about it. Find solution in every problem so that next time you know how to solve it
- The society has changed, either book-smart or street-smart we can build career out of it
- The number one skill to be street-smart is to know how to interact well with people
Lulu Alhadad Designs | Lulu Alhadad Bridal (LA Bridal)
- Lulu Alhadad designs is a fashion line for muslimah wear
- LA Bridal offers bridal packages and outfit rental for muslim community
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