Forbes Feature: Our founder and CEO, Linh Thai, shares her story!
Her passion, dedication, and work ethic motivates us to push forward, think outside the box, and work harder every day. We are so proud to share her story and cause with you! Linh Thai shares her story behind Rita Phil, experiences as a Shark on Shark Tank Vietnam, and how her role at VinGroup Venture is working to help improve the lives of people in Vietnam.
Shark Tank Vietnam's Co-Star Talks Recent Investments And The Country's Startup Ecosystem
Author: Sara R. Moulton
"Linh Thai wears many hats. Though for Thai, it might be more appropriate to say that she wears many skirts. She is the founder of Rita Phil, a custom clothing company for professional women; CEO of VinGroup Ventures; and a co-star on the angel investment reality show Shark Tank Vietnam. Thai is dedicated to growing opportunities and businesses in Vietnam and for Vietnam."
"Her mission is personal. She was born in Vietnam and left when she was two-years-old. As her family fled Vietnam after the war, Thai and her mother lost Thai’s sister, who was just four-years-old. She and her mother first arrived in Malaysia and then eventually settled in the U.S. She explains that these sacrifices that her family has made are what drives her. Here, Thai shares her experiences and the lessons she’s learned."
"Sara Moulton: Why did you decide to enter the textile business in Vietnam and found your company, Rita Phil?"
"Linh Thai: I saw an opportunity to bring something that Vietnam is very good at to the rest of the world. Vietnam’s tailors are highly skilled and are capable of creating and sewing intricate designs. The gap I saw was custom-tailored fashion for the U.S. market, which is non-existent, and which we take for granted in Asia. I also wanted to leverage the increasing preference for online shopping, especially for busy professionals who do not have time to wander the malls and fitting rooms."
"However, when it comes to online shopping, there is one major pain point: fit. Most online retailers experience a return rate of 50%. Ours is 1%. We’ve essentially removed the issue of fit from the equation entirely."
"Around 90% of our customers are from outside of Vietnam, mainly in the U.S. and Australia. We also receive orders from other countries around the world as word-of-mouth continues to grow, over 10 by my last count. In business, people often talk about competitive advantage, but we prefer to look at the unfair advantage. What Rita Phil has is access to highly skilled seamstresses, direct access to quality local fabric manufacturers and customer service that is passionate about the company and our product. Our secret sauce is our ability to take the best of what the East and West have to offer and create a product that over-delivers."
"Rita Phil is an ethical, slow fashion business where all staff are paid a living wage. How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors?"
"Yes, we truly believe in slow fashion. And I think there is a large portion of the market that also wants the quality and attention to detail that comes with a handmade item. But slow fashion doesn’t necessarily mean that the customer has to wait longer. Nordstrom, one of the retailers in the U.S. known for its great customer service, promises delivery of its online goods in 10 days. Rita Phil is able to deliver bespoke slow fashion at the same speed as they do."
"How do we differentiate ourselves? First, we create high-quality slow fashion pieces at fast fashion rates. Our team is able to do this by restructuring our production process to eliminate the standard production lines that exist in most factories. We offer better wages for highly experienced seamstresses who are able to create every item from start to finish. The change from a production-line to a production-team model ensures higher quality pieces made more efficiently."
"Second, we focus on custom pencil skirts because they are the new power look for professional women. Unfortunately for most women, pencil skirts are also very difficult to find the right fit—too loose and you look frumpy, too tight and you look like you’re headed to a bar. And the reason they’re so hard to fit is that they have to follow your figure, while not hugging too tight. Our solution uses a set of formulas that adjusts the curvature—in the hips, butt and thigh—to each individual woman’s measurements. And we use the data from prior customers to continuously update and improve these formulas."
"Third, we are hyper-focused on the perfect fit. We believe this comes from a combination of many variables including measurements, body shape, proportions, personal fit preference and fabric selection. Most importantly, we offer one-on-one video chat consultations to enable the customer to truly feel the custom tailoring experience. One of our popular features is the Enhancing Seam, where we strategically change the curvature of the seam to make a woman’s butt seem larger, or smaller, depending on her preference. All of this has enabled us to achieve a 35% repeat purchase rate."
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