Q+A with Michelle Jung, CEO of Swatchon
By Amanda Harth
Michelle Jung is the CEO of the fabric sourcing company, SwatchOn. Headquartered in Seoul, South Korea they’re redefining how wholesale fabric is sourced on a global level. They’re goal is to make the process of fabric sourcing as painless as possible with their easy to use ordering process, their fabric visual guides, and their super duper helpful customer service.
Check out Swatchon
How did the idea for Swatch On come about?
South Korea is well known to have some of the best fabrics in the world. However, as textile sourcing can be a bit of an old-school industry, only Korean designers had access to this great resource. We established Swatch On to serve a global community of emerging fashion designers and provide access to South Korea’s local fabric. We knew that textile sourcing can be one of the most challenging aspects of development, so we have built a service that solves major pain points that emerging designers have. Here are some of our major benefits of Swatch On:
• Large selection of fabrics – 170,000 products from over 2,000 wholesale suppliers based in Korea.
• No Minimum Order Quantity
• Wholesale fabric available for re-order – if a product goes out of stock, they will always
find a replacement for you. Over 95% of designers are satisfied with the replacements.
• 100% free fabric samples – fashion brands can order customized Swatch Boxes for free.
• No sales tax or import fees (USA only)– As long as you’re sending the shipment to the USA, it’s less than $800, and it’s imported by one person on one day you are able to take advantage of this.
• Easy to use website and technology - easy to browse through fabrics, easy searching, complete visual guide of fabrics, online chatting, and so much more!
• Significant price drops– by automating order processing and reducing operational costs, they have recently reduced retail prices by at least 13-22% for retail and 31-38% for wholesale on ALL of their fabrics. If you are a designer, you can get additional 5% savings on orders more than $100 on top of their new prices.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced starting your business?
Every day is a challenge, to be honest. Processing orders without minimums can be a lot of work which means high operating costs. We were able to lower our operating costs by automating our order process for both free samples and fabric orders. Our current challenge is to continue to lower our operating costs, which can result in more affordable fabrics for designers.
It’s different for every business, but what are a few tips on ways to land an investor?
During the early stages of the business, I believe that having a ‘strong team’ is crucial. Swatch On was able to raise funds because we had a solid idea, a highly motivated and committed team that has the ability to well execute the idea.
Did you have any mentors in the beginning stages of your business?
Yes, we did. We had mentors from various industries that helped us develop and execute our ideas.
Are there any mobile apps, softwares, or resources you use on a daily basis that help you get the productivity out of your business?
We use software tools that help us communicate such as Slack, Dropbox, Gsuite, Atlassian, Etc.
How large is your team now?
We are a team of 13 young, global enthusiasts passionate about fashion and IT.
What do you spend the most time on in your position these days?
Nowadays I spend time on optimizing and automating order our process so that we can reduce operation cost, which will eventually help us reduce our fabric prices.
What is the most effective marketing tool for your business?
Email marketing is number one.
What is your winning formula?
Ethics + Passion + Perseverance
Let’s talk trends! What are textile trends we need to look out for in F/W 2019/2020?
One of the firm trends are reflective, glossy fabrics…specifically vinyl like textures. Retro street wear has been trending so TPU, PVC textiles are currently very popular. Textiles that have a natural and authentic feel are in trend as well. An example would be wrinkled and creased textures. Textiles that can demonstrate over-sized looks are also pretty popular. The material needs soft and has some strength as well to express the desired silhouette. Overall we are seeing color trends in pale tones. Bright colors but with less saturation, like lavender, pink, etc.
What changes are you most excited about for your business in 2019?
We will be introducing fabric suggestion tools, achieve even lower prices, much more variety in fabrics that can help emerging designers prosper their business.