She’s just like you and me. She is a student at one of the most reputed institutions of the country, Institute of Business Administration, Dhaka University. Lubzana Afrin is in her early 20s and already running a popular Facebook store for shoes and jewellery. Facebook has enabled many to run small businesses of their own. Through a page, or a group you have a scope to directly engage customers. Lubzana has made very good use of this virtual platform alongside studying for exams, meeting class assignment deadlines and making her mark at MUN competitions in Bangladesh and abroad.
Tell us about you. How did you end up as an entrepreneur?
I was born in Dhaka. I went to Viqarunnisa Noon School, Mymensigh Girls’ Cadet College, and currently studying at Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka. My father was an engineer, and my mother was, well to put it perfectly, a dreamer. I grew up watching local women doing handicrafts for my mother’s boutique. She worked at Save the children, and her designs would be exported to many countries across the world. Children learn what they see. So I dreamt of becoming a fashion designer when I grow up! Ever since 3rd grade, I would draw designs in my notebooks, price them, and pretend selling them to friends! If anybody would ask me, where you see yourself after 10 years, I would promptly reply, I want my own identity, my own fashion house!
Alhamdulillah, my friends say I am the only one they have ever seen, who is exactly where they wanted to be 10 years back!
Tell us about your business.
Touch of Tradition is a Facebook based store, dedicated to bringing footwear and jewelry for women. We also have deal with some e-commerce websites like Kaymu, Biponee, BDBazaar etc and our shoes were sold there. We do not have any employees at the moment; I work under the guidance of my mother! She is the Managing Director of this small venture and I am only the marketing executive, which sounds realistic enough for an undergrad student
What is your target market for the business and how do you reach them?
Our target market is the fashion savvy young female of Bangladesh. We target customers who are better informed about what they buy so they readily realize that our products are quality products. They eventually end up our brand ambassadors through word of mouth marketing as such customers usually tend to be opinion leaders within their circles.
What is your business model, how do you make money?
We do not follow any particular model at the moment! Our business is small. We are still bootstrapping. Our strategy is to lower the profit margin and maximize sales! When it comes to fashionable jewelry and shoes, I can proudly say that Touch of Tradition is definitely one of the price-market leaders in Bangladesh! We also have a group for the customers on Facebook. it helps us engage them and at the same time give them very personalized care, meeting some very specific demands.
What are some challenges you have faced?
This question directly took me back to my recent encounter! One of my peers (Yes Peers), in the middle of an entirely academic argument chose to respond to me by making fun of the fact that I run a shoe store. Well, it really is very, very difficult to ignore these comments and move along! Well, there is one thing I truly believe, Love will find a way. If someone really wants something, they will find a way to achieve it! I have seen my elders look at me in despise when I said I want to become an entrepreneur, I have found my peers saying I don’t want jobs because I am not good enough to get one. My dealers (especially sub-continental) still have a hard time believing that a woman and a girl comes to their offices and talk professionally about businesses.
I have faced obstacles in every possible form. I have been calm and faced them all. Because I had one support, strong enough to stand against the whole world. My Mother. She was there, in everything I wanted to do, she gave me wings to fly as high as I wanted. And Alhamdulillah I never have I done anything to let her down, nor will.
Heard you are an active MUNer. How would you say has it contributed to your entrepreneurial skills?
Well MUNing has only added colors to my business., firstly teaching me to say “WE”. MUNing is all about diplomacy, negotiating, and selection of words and those skills are bolstered by your communication with people there! At Touch of Traditions we build our trust with our conduct. 90% of our returning customers say that they come back for they love talking to us! I believe we have assured the sense of commitment and security to our online customers who don’t hesitate to pay enormous amounts from their mobile wallet, wait patiently when we are late to deliver, or say they have to wait a month for their orders to be fulfilled! Trust me; I give all the credit to MUNs.
Find out more about Lubzana’s startup ‘Touch of Tradition’ at https://www.facebook.com/barbieboutiques?ref=bookmarks