The GLBS team would like to thank everyone who joined our first digital event with Mia Lei, Founder and CEO of MIASUKI yesterday. Below are the key takeaways from the event.
1. Experience helps you grow
When asked if she would redo anything in starting and growing the brand, Mia Lei answered that she would not. It is her journey, and MIASUKI is a chapter in it. Building her brand was tough, with finding the right manufacturers, the pandemic, getting the website hijacked, retailers dropping the brand because it was not making sales but then others taking it up again, but she would not change one bit. It is about perseverance and counting one’s blessings. All the challenges she faced were learning opportunities.
In your 20s, don’t be afraid to go through the process of discovering as much as possible about yourself. Learn what your strengths and weaknesses are, and how you can add value to a community. Trust your gut feeling and take risks. You get nothing if you risk nothing. Be yourself and be different, don’t give into the pressure of conforming to what other people are doing. Having meaning will set you apart. Have a thick skin and stand by your decisions. Learn to welcome criticism with open arms and strive to become a better person everyday in all your roles (for Mia, as a daughter, wife, mother, businesswoman). Learn and grow continuously. As a clothing brand, if you have the chance to learn manufacturing through hands-on experience in Italy, it is the chance to learn how products are really well made. Having proper craftsmanship in clothing makes all the difference.
2. Stay true to yourself and your vision
One of the key elements of MIASUKI’s success is that the brand is a reflection of Mia’s own journey. She began horse riding to overcome her fear of it, and when practicing the sport found no clothing that fit her needs for something beautiful and stylish, but also comfortable. MIASUKI emerged as Mia’s solution to something that was missing from her personal life, which other female horse riders could relate to. Her products are created on the basis of what she herself can experience, use and love in years to come, created with top-notch craftsmanship. For instance, when asked if she could see a line for men in the future, she replied that she herself cannot know how it feels to ride as a man and therefore would not be able to provide products that are up to her standards. The notion of restricting, and focusing on quality over quantity was one of Mia’s imperatives for her brand to stay true to herself. She wants the MIASUKI experience to be as authentic as possible, to share her experience with her customers. To accomplish your dreams you will always need to collaborate and work alongside other people. Know how to find the right people - investors for example, only look for numbers which, for Mia, adds pressure to deliver, potentially compromising on the quality of the products and making it more commercial. Mia was not only selective in the materials she used, and craftsmanship of her products, but in every person and name she associated with.
3. Be a Hustler
Hard work always pays off. To find the best factories and manufacturers for each of her products (ensuring the best craftsmanship, whether it is a pair of socks, breeches, a shirt or helmet), Mia used the power of networking through friends and their contacts, but it was not just about having the right people in her phone. You also need to “be an absolute hustler” and not be afraid to sometimes be a little aggressive (and sell socks…). Stand for what you believe in and never settle for less. Go after what you want, even if you have to go the extra mile. It will show in the final result. For your brand to stand out, you can’t be shy or embarrassed to ask questions or do certain things. The high costs of production and levels of competition in the fashion and luxury industries makes it very hard for brands to survive. Even with extremely talented designers and creators, at the end of the day, a business still needs to survive in commercial terms, and for that, you need to hustle - and work with the right people to get you to where you want to be.