If you love ladies shoes, you don’t wanna miss out on this post. Hashani Perera is the founder of Gabrielle’s Pick; one of the most popular designers wear ladies shoe brands in the country. She started with just one order per day and now does more than 100 every day!
Yes, Gabrielle’s Pick is doing great but this post isn’t about the success and glamour. This is about what came before all that success. This post is about “why” and “how” she started Gabrielle’s Pick. Without holding anything back, she shared her entire journey thus far so that you can follow the same road map to start your own business.
If you’re thinking of starting your own business in Sri Lanka, here’s all the motivation and tactics you’ve been waiting for.
Did you always wanted to become an entrepreneur?
When I look back, I was always passionate about designing and had a major shoe craze from a very young age, but I never thought about converting my passion into a business. The business happened much later.
Soon after I had my daughter, I had to consider all the options available because I wasn’t in a position to travel daily. That’s what made me start Gabriella.
Also here’s quick fact. Gabriella is the name of my daughter and both she and my business were born in 20
Why did you decide to sell ladies shoes instead of anything else?
I love shoes and I have always collected shoes! Everything came into place when my father-in-law decided to start a footwear brand called “Boshitele.” He is a businessman and is a person who is not afraid of taking risks.
I design everything and they are manufactured at my father-in-laws’ factory which is based in Bandaragama. Both my in-laws (Terence and Shanika Perera) are the backbone of Gabriella. They supply everything that I sell online.
Did you have any experience running a business on your own?
No. I didn’t have any experience. But both my inspiration and motivation came from the household itself. Both my in-laws have been in business for over 40-50 years. Thanks to them, I decided to take the challenge.
Were you doubtful whether you can pull this off on your own in the beginning?
To be honest, success and fortune didn’t matter to me. All I wanted was to create something that I love. I was happy doing what I was doing and eventually success came to me. I wanted to put my strengths into something that I loved plus gives me the benefit of working from home to spend more time with my new-born daughter.
How did you start selling your products?
I started with Facebook and Instagram first. Everything you see on our social media was created by me. I did everything from designing, marketing, accounting, selling, and packaging. I even played the role of foot model myself. In fact, I played the role of the photographer too!
I believe that marketing is the most important factor in any business. No matter how amazing your product or idea is, if you don’t market it to the right crowd, you are not doing justice. My target market is the youth and therefore I built all my platforms in a youthful outlook that would attract my target audience.
Did you have a website when you first launched your products?
No, I didn’t. Initially, I started with the basic social media platforms; Facebook and Instagram. At one point, I realized that it would be more rewarding to level up to a Website. I did my research on this and teamed up with WebXPay to make my dream website a reality. They did a perfect job and I’m still happily working hand in hand with them.
How many customers have you served so far?
I started with 1 order per day and have successfully leveled up to 100 orders per day. I believe the key to all the customer loyalty we have right now is putting customer satisfaction in the 1st place. I always do my best to be responsive to every message and call that comes my way. I also make it a point to treat all my customers as friends.
Are your products available in any other online shopping platforms?
No. My designs are exclusively available on my platforms because I’d like to keep the uniqueness and exclusiveness of my brand within my radar.
How does Gabriella stand out from the rest?
Gabriella is an online platform that purely focuses on locally designed and manufactured ladies footwear in the aim of promoting Sri Lankan designs, to the outer world. Gabriella prides itself in marketing and distributing some of the highest quality locally designed and manufactured footwear.
The factory is based in Bandaragama and armed with an excellent technical and friendly customer service team. We have established an efficient supply and distribution network across the country and even around the world.
However, the uniqueness surely lies in the mixture of colors, material and uncommon designs. The durability and comfort are highlights too! Consistency is the key.
What’s the biggest challenge you face currently?
Balancing time between my family and business is the biggest challenge I face.
How big is the team behind Gabriella?
Team Gabriella is all family. I have 5-6 very close friends/family members involved in different parts of my business. My husband; Tehan and My daughter; Teshana Gabriella, play the main role. Apart from them, 10-15 factory employees work tirelessly to make my designs come to life.
What do you want to tell someone who is desperate to start a business in Sri Lanka?
First, identify your talents without going with the flow. Everyone has unique talents that need to be identified.
Second, motivate yourself. Dream big and have a vision of where you want to be. Don’t let any external problems bring your spirit down. Aim big and work hard.
Third, Enjoy! If you do what love, and work hard, eventually you will end up where you want to be.
Now it’s your call
Share your biggest takeaway from this story. Add a comment below and let Hashani know. Most importantly share this post in your favorite social media platform and support local entrepreneurs. Click any social media icon you see here.
Then go and build your dream business.
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