MsHem founder: Emily Guo
1: Can you tell us a bit about the origin of MsHEM?
I guess that starts with me – I am definitely an entrepreneur! Before MsHem, I started up my own logistics business by myself and ran all aspects of the set-up, establishment and operations. So that included quite a lot – outsourcing the website programming, marketing and branding, supplier management, finance, legal/compliance, HR/recruitment and also operations. I learnt a lot from that and it’s great being able to take those learnings into this venture, and at the same time follow two of my true passions – fashion and design.
It’s great that I was able to find like-minded co-founders and so we decided to go all-in with building MsHem as a fashion brand, from the ground up. The philosophy we decided on for MsHem was to encourage women to “be your own muse” - through creating high-quality fashionable garments that can be adapted for almost all occasions simply by adding a small creative touch.
2: We love that you advocate ‘Slow Fashion’. What does being sustainable mean to you?
Like many others, I had spent many years being a culprit of the over-consumption mindset, constantly purchasing cheap, low-quality garments, and regularly prioritizing quantity over quality. Only to find my wardrobe full of garments that have only been worn once. But, in this world of abundant choices and rapid consumption, there is now a growing awareness of the need to slow down and ‘have ‘a cup of tea’.
At MsHem, our vision is centred on sustainability - to create garments that will last for years because they are well-tailored and made from high-quality fabrics. Alongside this is our brand philosophy, which is defined by a sophisticated, timeless style that exudes confidence for the modern woman; a style that can easily be adapted alongside other pieces or accessories and therefore add that element of longevity to our garments.
3: Where do you see the future of fashion going?
We think that consumers are increasingly coming on board with the slow fashion concept – which is like a first cousin of environmentalism. We think that a large number are turning away from traditional choices – the large retail stores with the same labels and similar styles, and are looking for something unique and stylish. Clearly, interacting with fashion online is going to continue growing – so providing the ease of interaction which is centred on the customer experience is going to be key.
We are also involved in an exciting Artificial Intelligence project. We can’t give away too much at this stage! But we think it is going to enhance the user experience even more and will provide greater comfort around sizing and style considerations.
4: What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever been given?
Consult, consult and consult! Never assume that your initial reaction to a question should be the final answer. What you might initially think looks good may not appeal to your customers. So, seek input along the way and road-test ideas before you push the button.
5: We’ve always thought MsHEM designs juxtaposed pretty and masculine with beautiful prints and colours with structured and tailored designs. How would you describe the MsHEM woman?
I think that can be summarised fairly succinctly. The MsHem woman – or “muse” as we like to say – has fun with fashion and uses her outfits to express herself as a connoisseur of style and elegance.
6: Would you say you have more of an intuitive or analytical approach to design?
Can I sit on the fence on this one?! I think it is really important to have both. From an analytical standpoint, it is important to understand your customer as best you can. Who are they and what are they likely to identify with. But at the same time, having some degree of intuition is really what defines who you are. If I had to pick one over the other, I would say it is probably more led by intuition and then supported by an analytical approach.
7: How would you describe your personal style? Do you look up to anyone for fashion inspiration?
Well, I think my personal style is largely a mirror of MsHem – or the other way around perhaps. I do regularly wear MsHem items – and trust me, it is great to get compliments from people when I do!
8: Do you have any advice you would give to someone wanting to start their own brand?
It is hard work! There is a lot to get to grips with that most people working as employees won’t have had exposure to. Be prepared for that by establishing a support network to help you deal with the various issues that will arise. Addressing legal issues. Running a payroll. Negotiating property leases. Complying with taxation requirements. Engaging with suppliers. And funding all that! The personal fulfilment from building up your own business is rewarding but It is important to bear in mind the hard work that goes with it.
Doing this by yourself is even harder. So people need to understand the journey can be lonely until you can establish a team so having resilience to deal with these challenges is critical.
9: Would you be able to share your biggest achievement with MsHem so far?
There have been a few things I’m really proud of. But so far, at the top of that list would be seeing models wearing MsHem garments on the catwalk for the first time – which was at the Shenzhen Fashion Week. And then seeing footage of that on TV was such a fantastic feeling.
After so much effort in building a new fashion label from the ground up, that was so rewarding.
10: Do you have a particular piece or collection you are most proud of?
The Elina blazer set is our best-seller – I like to think of it as a timeless design. It is amazing to see so many of our customers try it on and tell us how comfortable they feel in the fabric. It’s absolutely rewarding when you know you’ve succeeded in providing your customers what you had promised to create – a high-quality and versatile garment that makes them feel good about themselves.
11: What does success mean/look like to you?
I would love for MsHem to be renowned as a revolutionary fashion brand. That will take time and hard work – but I’ve enjoyed every minute of the journey so far.