Meet Jessica Stephens and Stephanie Holland, founders of Hong Kong based fashion startup, AURZA. Recently completing one of the largest crowdfunding campaigns in Hong Kong history through indiegogo, these women have caught the attention of many, including Forbes. We had the chance to sit down with Stephanie, a graduate of our 10 week Digital Marketing Business Course for a quick catch-up on how things are going post GA and where AURZA is headed next.
What is AURZA?
AURZA is an online fashion brand that allows women to design their perfect dress, which we then make for them in standard, mix and match or custom sizing.
Our aim is simply to help women like us look and feel fabulous, without compromise.
How did it start?
Jess and I founded the business at the end of last year. We were best friends from 4-18, lost touch after school and met randomly at a bus stop in Discovery Bay 2 years ago. We both had children, loved clothes but were so frustrated that we couldn’t find things that made our post baby bodies look great. Everything on the high street was never quite right and had clearly been designed with younger, different shaped ladies in mind!
We decided to use the resources that were at our door and started working with local tailors to develop our concept as we figured they had the skills and operation set up to do bespoke pieces quickly. We were wrong. The results were terrible, our friends laughed and many in the industry told us what we wanted to do couldn’t be done (at least not to a high standard that competes with the likes of Reiss and Club Monaco). So we went back to the drawing board and researched fit, pattern making and design and found 3D scanning and went through contact on contact to find a manufacturer that would work with us to create our vision. We decided to do a beta test using Indiegogo in November to generate enough orders to pressure test our manufacturing and overall concept.
What was your biggest obstacle in getting AURZA off the ground?
Finding the right partners to help us create a unique product and website that met the standard we aspired to deliver.
What’s been most exciting to you in starting AURZA?
Delivering a product that genuinely makes women look and feel fabulous. When we did our first photo shoot we asked normal ladies here in Hong Kong to come for a make-over and wear our dresses and they looked amazing. When we shared the photos on our blog and facebook the positive feedback was overwhelming and this gave us real confidence to know we can get it right.
What course did you take at GA?
10 week digital marketing course with Jay Oatway.
How did this course help you with AURZA?
It was amazing. Before the course I had definitely underestimated how much social media needs to be part of our business plan going forward. Having spent 15 years in global blue chip businesses I had a traditional sales and marketing background and relied heavily on agencies and so the course enabled me to understand how to get started, where to focus my efforts vs where to get outside help. There are a lot of areas that I would have assumed would be outside my capability which I can now do myself. Also the course was pivotal in how we set up and communicated our Indiegogo campaign which recently ended with over 150% of funding achieved and left us as the 2nd most funded campaign on Indiegogo in Hong Kong.
What makes AURZA different from the competition?
1. You no longer have to compromise on style or fit – there are over 300,000 different combinations resulting in a perfect dress for everyone.
2. We have invested heavily in 3D body scanning / pattern development resulting in a superior fit and the ability to mix and match elements e.g sleeves without compromising the look.
3. The 3D development allows us to make ‘fit recommendations’ for women based on either a photo that they send in or coming in for a body scan if they are in HK.. This means without any measuring we can tell our customers what size to order and whether we need to tweak or fully customize a garment. This capability is still a work in progress and something we are testing through our indiegogo campaign, but hope we can make it automated online at some point next year.
What’s next for Aurza?
Our focus right now is on delivery of the dresses and accessories from our Indiegogo campaign and taking all the learnings from it. After CNY we will be launching the website with the advanced sharing, fit and design capabilities. And after that we want to be the ‘shoes of prey’ for women’s dresses!