Interview with Natasha Lee
Interview with Natasha Lee, the founder of Ultra Fantasy Lingerie.
A story about the business described as Fun, Luxury, Artistic!
Tell us about yourself and your business?
I am Natasha, the founder of Ultra Fantasy Lingerie. I have a strong passion for lingerie. I graduated with a degree in translation and worked in a multinational bank for a few years, but I wanted to take a leap for a new career. I visited a lingerie fair in the States and realized that there is a gap in the Asian market! We need more quality lingerie and I decided to be that person to breach the gap. Apart from selling lingerie, I really love modeling and creating artistic artwork in lingerie too.
Tell us more about your business?
I love getting harness, open crotch style lingerie and bodysuit in affordable price. I soon found out it is hard to find them in Hong Kong, either too cute or too pricey. Realizing there is a niche market of lingerie in Asia, I started by carrying quality lingerie from the states to Asia. This year we started our own production and design of lingerie, which is already targeting both overseas and Asia, with the warehouse in Miami and Hong Kong. Our target customers are lingerie models, alternative models, the Rave community and individuals who are looking for some items to spice up their relationships. Lingerie is surely a luxury. It is not a necessity, but it adds a sparkle to your life. It is about design and people, who love to add some excitement to their life, enjoy something different.
How the idea was born and what were your first steps?
The idea was born with a strong passion! The first steps were visiting lingerie trade show overseas and getting inspiration from them in terms of marketing, design, and branding.
What was your biggest motivation and inspiration when you decided to start your business?
My biggest motivation is some American based online lingerie stores with costumes, different kind of lingerie and kinky accessories at an affordable price. I wanted to do something similar but with different designs and items. An online platform for lingerie lovers filled with your wildest fantasies.
What was the most challenging part of starting your business? (How did you overcome it)
The most challenging part is managing cash flow and managing inventory. If you want to set up an online store, make sure your products are unique and in a niche market. While for lingerie, there are too many competitions for lingerie brand in the States while Chinese are in generally conservative and do not wear special lingerie for various occasions. Tackling the mentioned issues differently, we have our own very special designs and own production of harness for the overseas market and in Hong Kong, we focus on education.
For you, personally, what was the most difficult part when moving from working in a bank to being an entrepreneur?
While I was a relationship manager at the bank I focus on business development but being an entrepreneur has so much more to handle than that, such as marketing, logistics management, inventory management, human resources management and cash flow management, which are the most challenging part for me to adapt to a new environment.
How did you fund your business?
I fund my business with my own savings.
What you wish you had done differently?
I have been carrying a different brand of dancewear and lingerie to Hong Kong and focus on the retail market in Hong Kong. I should have focused on the international market since the day one, as the purchasing power of USD, AUD and Euro are much higher, while Hong Kong is too close to the manufacturing ports - China and Vietnam, and items are selling at a cheaper price in Asia in general.
Now, once you’ve already been for a while in the business, what are the main characteristics of the industry? What should one now and be aware of?
The lingerie industry is dynamic and blooming. Not only they are used in the bed but is also a blooming trend for EDM parties, a night out and for photo shoots. What’s more, they are not limited to seasons. If you plan to sell something online, you should be aware of the exclusiveness of your products, it’s not easy to stand out in a pool of competitors on the internet thus I suggest you all take more time on market research.
Tell us about your first client?
I could not recall my first client. Haha. The first costumer should be a pole-dancer as we started by carrying pole-wear from overseas to Hong Kong.
What is that sets apart your collections?
Our collections are versatile and we carry our signature harnesses and sweet Lolita collection, which are hard to find in the market. Our harness could be worn as lingerie in a BDSM style and also clothing accessories.
What buying your items is bringing into people’s lives?
Getting our items are fun! It is kinky and chic. We hope everyone is having fun and filled up his or her fantasy on and off the bed.
Which marketing tools you found to be the most successful? Which methods worked the best for you to acquire new clients?
Instagram is one of the most successful tools for us. Given our items are unique in the market. Facebook and listing on different selling platforms like Amazon and Etsy boost our sales too.
You work between two cities or better two continents. For you, what are the main differences between working in Hong Kong and LA?
Americans like things wild and sparkling. They don’t mind to pay more but they would like to get them fast. Most Asian sizes are too small for them and we have been promoting a lot of plus size lingerie in America. A harness is absolutely common part of the culture.
Being an ex- British colony, in Hong Kong we prefer European and French styles. Lace, elegant and black color is the first choice. Most Asian girls are slim and they are looking for lingerie with padding and smaller size.
What did you find to be the most difficult part about running your own business?
I feel lonely running my own business. Unlike working in a company, there is no one motivating you except yourself. And I work on the computer most of the times which made it somehow boring. Discipline is easier to be said than done.
What is the silliest prejudice you’ve seen about your industry?
Plus size girls don't dare to wear lingerie in Asia. They are not confident in their bodies which is sad.
The other prejudice I have seen in the lingerie industry is that it’s a taboo for the Asian girl to wear sexy. I saw my models in the States “freeing” their nipples and wearing sexy and they still feel chic and that they belong to a high fashion. I can’t say that about Hong Kong, and I really hope girls in Asia could be the same one day. At the moment, wearing sexy or posting lingerie picture are labeled as indecent in Asia, it’s hard to promote lingerie in here.
What is that you love the most about what you are doing?
I love lingerie, I love to be sexy and seeing others being sexy. Costumers satisfaction are my biggest motivation and made me so proud of what I am doing.
What is your favorite part of the day?
I love the morning! I love to start the day by writing down to do the list of the day and go to the gym.
Your days must be busy, could you share with us your time management ideas and secrets?
Most people in Hong Kong are busy! But that’s what I love about Hong Kong. I would write down a to-do list in the morning and hit the gym every second day. At the end of the day, I would check my progress and review if the day was effective. I travel regularly so I love to work on weekends too.
Which are the advantages and disadvantages of having your own business?
The advantages of having my own business are to enjoy a flexible schedule. I could work anytime and anywhere on my computer. And I come across different people, from all walks of life, with different nationality, skin, and culture.
The disadvantages of having my own business are that it is too stressful. Business has its ups and downs and takes many years to be established. Also, cash flow is a headache. I miss having my regular salary.
What is your entrepreneurs' superpower?
My entrepreneur's superpower is to follow my passion. I am a lucky girl that there is a business opportunity for my passion. I just need to work and don’t be lazy!
When times get tough, what helps you to keep going?
When times get tough, I go to the gym or I go to find my friends for a talk. I believe that a positive mind brings a positive result. And my friends they always give me valuable advice.
What are your business plans for the year?
Exhibiting in Comic-con in London and Sexpo in Australia. We will be focusing on online and international sales. We are looking to sourcing stable supplier and designer to work with.
Exhibiting in Comic-con in London, Sexpo in Australia.
Focusing on online and international sales. Sourcing a stable supplier/ designer to work with.
What would you recommend to someone debating to start her business?
I suggest you do a market research and ask friends for advice. Finding other sources of income so in case the business fails it would not affect your life. Try it and learn from mistakes. Experience works much better than learning from other stories.
What is your motto?
My Motto is Be Sexy, Make Money, Make Love. These are my passion.
Describe your business in 3 words?
Fun, Luxury, Artistic.
We have been exhibited in Pole Dance Expo 2017 in Las Vegas.
We have been working with models/celebrities in the states with over 200K followers.
Apart from Website and retail shop in Hong Kong we also have stored on Amazon and Etsy, targeting costumer from overseas.
What a wonderful story about entrepreneurial passion and day to day struggles!
Thank you for your interview and I am sure that your story has empowered many inspiring female entrepreneurs to try even harder to make their dream come true!
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