Having graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in finance, Vikki Tear went on to work in the finance field before eventually joining her sister’s fintech startup as the Head of People.
On the side, she also ran her own beauty and wellness e-commerce store Naked Blend, and early this year, she started up another venture.
Called SoyCraft, the inspiration behind it is her beloved fluffy little Pomeranian named Soya.
As an existing e-commerce business owner who is a “dog mum”, Vikki had encountered some pain points that allowed her to gravitate towards finding a solution for the problem that she was experiencing.
When she went shopping for a pet carrier last year, she found that the existing local pet carriers lacked functionality — they were either too hard and uncomfortable, or too flimsy and lacked support. Most were also not very stylish or aesthetically-pleasing.
“With most of the pet carriers I found locally, I still had to carry a separate bag to store my essentials, leading to an extra burden whenever I brought my pup out,” shared Vikki.
Although there are more and better options for pet carriers internationally, she felt that they are either cumbersome to order, or more expensive due to the high shipping fees. Pet carriers from the US or China also tend to be thicker as they are designed to accommodate the four seasons, including winter.
As such, she wanted to plug the gap in the market and build a local pet brand that sells beautifully made, functional, and reasonably-priced pet carriers that are easily accessible by the local community.
First product launch was delayed by six months
Although Vikki has been running her own business for a while, starting and launching a new brand felt like she was starting from scratch.
“People don’t know about your brand — you start with a blank canvas and build your brand reputation and credibility from zero,” explained Vikki, who is in her 30s.
Preparing for the first product launch wasn’t easy. They came up with five different prototypes before deciding on the final product, which involved multiple rounds of revision, eventually delaying the launch by six months.
She shared further that the entire Research and Development (R&D) process — from ideation to production — takes up to 2.5 months.
After conceptualising the pet carrier’s design and concept, she would proceed to discuss the viability of the bag with the team’s craftsmen. After approval, she would source for fabrics as part of the crafting stage.
She stressed that their carriers are made with 100 per cent pure cotton, which is also used to make quality baby products. She reasoned that the material wicks away moisture and ventilates cool air, which helps make fur-babies to feel less hot.
“Known for its soft, natural and breathable qualities, we want to make sure your fur-baby is as comfortable as he/she can get,” said Vikki.
SoyCraft took five months to break even since launch
Vikki had allocated a “close to six-figure sum” to kickstarting SoyCraft as there is a Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) for every colour, design and size of their products.
The fabrics and materials purchased for the crafting process are customised as there is a high MOQ for them as well.
Additionally, since the pet carriers are structured and cannot be flattened, they are quite bulky and tend to consume more storage space. Hence, Vikki had to allocate a good sum of the funds just to find a suitable warehouse.
Thankfully, her investment has paid off and the brand broke even in just five months after launch.
Vikki shared that the response from customers so far have been very encouraging from the get-go, and customers have expressed that they love the functions and build of their pet carriers.
To date, SoyCraft’s best-selling products are their Cloud and Loaf Carriers. The Cloud Carrier doubles up as a pupper car seat, while the Loaf Carrier can be carried as either a shoulder or cross-body bag.
Striving to create the paw-fect pet carrier
Sharing more about her journey to build SoyCraft, Vikki said that there’s an undeniable excitement of sharing new products with the community, but there’s also a continual internal struggle to “find fault” with her own products in a bid to perfect it.
She added that she is a perfectionist, and often hold high expectations towards herself and the people she works with. She recounted how she would criticise herself when people cannot align with her pace and standard,
“It’s nothing personal, but not everyone can accept the same kind of work standards and may think I make things difficult for them. I used to beat myself up when people who cannot work on the same pace and standard as me, critic my expectations on quality. I doubted myself and questioned if I should lower my expectations to fit in,” lamented Vikki.
“While I still don’t believe in lowering my expectations to fit in with the norms, I have learnt to accept (small) imperfections and improve the product along the way.”
The key to building a good brand that stands the test of time is to stay relevant, adaptable, and up-to-date with market demands. “(You need to) have an eye to spot product gaps and always have a curious mind on how you can make products better,” she added.
Moving forward, SoyCraft will continue to build more comfortable and aesthetic pet products as it aims to expand overseas in the next one to two years.
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Featured Image Credit: SoyCraft