When Yang Yang, the petite entrepreneur extraordinaire behind Amiclubwear arrives at the scene of her interview, she is dressed in an all-white-outfit. At first glance, she looks more like a freshly-scrubbed fashionista with lustrous, black tresses and minimal make-up. But, Yang is actually a dynamo who has earned her stripes at the helm of a burgeoning fashion empire.
Looking at the spacious office Yang Yang, and Operations Director Tim Lam now occupy with distinct ease, it is hard to imagine that in 2004, they had to break down a wall between two small warehouses because they simply didn’t have enough space. To top it off, they were also understaffed. Everyone had to pitch in because multi-tasking was a necessity. It wasn’t at all unusual to find that an attractive warehouse worker would also double as a model. Yang Yang herself, assumed many roles when the company was starting out as an online retailer.
Lam recounts with a bemused tone, “She was in every department. She was on the marketing side but she would also assume the role of warehouse worker without any hesitation.” Yang goes on to add with a chuckle, “We only had 3 people in the company. So, in addition to my business responsibilities, I was also the photographer as well as the model. At one point, I had bruises all over my legs from carrying stocks. But giving up isn’t part of my vocabulary. What my father told me has always pushed me to go the distance. He said: Don’t think about the money when you’re doing business. Work hard. Have fun. Do something good for your employees. Treat your employees well. And, I treat my employees well because I want good people to stay. Good people give my company the backbone needed to execute my vision.” Lam agrees, “She is the creative visionary. As someone on the sales side of the business, I execute her goals so her vision is realized. That’s what we all do for her, from the staff to the models to the warehouse workers.”
It is this faith in her ability to turn any business around that had Lam working with Yang, to turn a computer business they had established in 2003 into something that was so far removed – shoe retail. This new business direction immediately presented Lam and Yang with an interesting problem. Ironically, Yang Yang’s marketing background from Cambridge, her attention to details, and unerring fashion sense resulted in a sudden spurt in business that had them dealing with more orders than they could handle.
Yang recalls those harried days, “The cowboy boots followed by the fur boots were sold out almost immediately. We grew too fast, and we were not prepared. We were working all day 7 days a week. We lacked sleep. We even forgot to eat!” Lam observes in retrospect, “It was a good problem, but it was a problem we didn’t anticipate.”