Taking the right calls at the right time is a part and parcel of being an entrepreneur. Suvindili Fernando, affectionately called Suvi, is the CEO of Limited Edition (LE) store who told Nation last week that closing down the outlet which operated from Liberty Arcade was one such call that was taken for the better because her customer base which predominantly consists of millennials – females to be specific, between ages of 15 and 35 – preferred to shop online as opposed to putting themselves through the hassle of going to a store and buying things in person.
Makes sense to anybody who has a clue as to how bad Colombo traffic can be during any given time of the day. Suvi told Nation that the move was a very calculated one and isn’t a phenomenon that is too uncommon globally as there had been parallel scenarios where brands, especially fashion, have either moved completely online or invested heavily on their virtual stores as opposed to physical.
Q: A lot of your customers panicked when you closed the Liberty Arcade store. There was a considerable buzz online. What made you take that decision?
We were operating from Liberty Plaza close to a year and then moved to the Arcade. What we noticed is that the online sales were still much higher compared to the sales at the store at Liberty because our clientele preferred to have things delivered to their doorstep as it is convenient by them. A lot of my clients are women and young girls either studying or working. Finding the time to actually come to a store and pick something up is sometimes not an option given how busy they are.
It is apt to say the store didn’t give us much new business because most who visited were also online clients who just wanted to see what else was there at the store. It didn’t make sense and by and by we decided might as well invest that time and money into expanding our online presence. That is the way forward for most small businesses especially in the fashion business. We have to get with the times and tailor the way we sell things to complement customers’ lifestyles.
Q: Tell us a bit about Limited Edition store.
We are an online store that is focused on selling jewelry, sunglasses and accessories as such at affordable prices to Sri Lankan customers. Almost all products are imported from Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
We have been around since 2013.
Q: What inspired you to start your own venture?
I did three corporate jobs before Limited Edition store. None of them gave me the kind of satisfaction that I get from working on my own. Well, technically I have about four people working with me but being an entrepreneur has been risky yet far more rewarding than working a nine to five job.
I started LE as a hobby. Before making a business out of it, I wanted to see how others will like or accept my style and preference. Who would dare to be different than the rest. This is the inspiration behind LE. I want my customers to create their own identity. I wanted to enable them to stand out. If there is one thing I love about LE it is the happiness of my customers who adorn LE jewelry and feel proud about themselves. I love them.
The greatest challenge I’ve faced is to convince myself to embrace the side of me that is entrepreneurial and creative and express it. Working for a company was never my cup of tea. I believed I was destined to do more.
Q: Have you at any point regretted the decision you took to quit a stable, day job and start a business? Could’ve gone either way…
When you run your own business, you have to live it 24/7 and I believe in trying to continue to grow, learn and understand my business. For a long time, I didn’t like talking about my jewelry business — it wasn’t a “real” career to me, and yet my creative side kept me trying, pushing, and exploring where it could take me.
Q: Would you like to share with the readers some leanings of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
One thing I learnt is that when your business grows you cannot handle it alone.
One mistake I was going to make was to try doing everything on my own because to me LE was my baby and I was not comfortable handing any part of the operation to another. But with time I realized it is essential to trust and delegate if you want to grow. Because you cannot do everything on your own. You just HAVE to delegate and lead.
So I did. I immediately started trusting and believing in my team. It is important that your team, your employees believe in the core of the business. It shouldn’t just be YOUR baby, it should be their baby as well. And it is up to you to make them feel the same way. A little appreciation goes a long way. We always have to put ourselves in the employees’ shoes when making decisions. Always remember that happy employees create happy customers.
Q: How easy or difficult has it been selling things to Sri Lankans online?
It has been a rewarding experience. I don’t come from a business family so everything I know, I learnt, has been through trial and error. The customers have been supportive, understanding and overall easy to work with. The best part about selling online is getting feedback. I have a collection of feedback from customers and this is my source of motivation to keep going. I love what I do because it makes people happy.
Q: What does the future hold for LE?
We are looking at expanding our product portfolio. In a sense, something we’ve noticed is that customers’ tastes tend to differ based on location and other factors as such. What we have in mind is to broaden our collection so that everybody will have something they will like. The taste of someone from Colombo differs to that of somebody from Kandy. We want to study this better and cater accordingly. Other than that we’d love to ship overseas also. But the challenge right now is the absence PayPal.
Limited Edition store is accessible via their Facebook and Instagram accounts. LE’s official website is www.limitededition.lk.