How many businesses, set up with a total investment of Rs45,000, achieve Rs1 million in annual sales within two years of their launch? SHAHZEB SAEED, a Karachi-based clothing brand for male corporate executives, is one such business. The brand has gained a strong foothold in the market for men’s formal shirts in a short period of time.
Featured recently as one of the ten entrepreneurs nominated for the Shell Tameer Awards 2012, and eventually winning the second prize, Shahzeb Saeed – the sole proprietor of his eponymously titled brand – thought of starting his own clothing line during an internship at Chevron Pakistan. “Executives there would often talk of the need for reasonably-priced, formal shirts that are well-stitched and made with good fabric,” Saeed tells The Express Tribune.
He formally launched his brand in January 2010 at an alumni dinner hosted by the Institute of Business Administration; where he was studying for an MBA degree at the time. On the inaugural night for the Shahzeb Saeed brand, he sold 20 shirts to 10 customers. From then on, with help from well-placed IBA alumni in Karachi’s business circles and frequent corporate events held on IBA campuses, Saeed capitalised on the easy access to his target market without incurring major marketing costs.
Made with similar quality imported fabric used by major brands like Cambridge and Cotton and Cotton, a formal shirt at SHAHZEB SAEED is priced at a reasonable Rs1,000 – about Rs800 less than what the other clothing brands charge.
Drawing inspiration from Ego – a clothing line for women that helps its employees become independent vendors by offering them interest-free loans to set up stitching machines and promising continuous business – Saeed has created three direct and seven indirect jobs.
SHAHZEB SAEED, which plans to gradually diversify into ties, cufflinks, trousers and suits, is currently based out of a retail outlet in Defence and relies primarily on word of mouth for advertising; especially in the vast IBA alumni network. “We have over 600 recurring customers right now,” he says.
“We’re going to introduce J. Hilburn’s business model for the first time in Pakistan, within [the] next two months,” he says, referring to the American luxury menswear brand. The new business model, Saeed says, will involve a relatively large sales force engaged on a commission basis. It will call on corporate executives with product catalogues, by appointment and at a place and time of the latter’s choosing, and take measurements and book customised orders.
“Corporate heads don’t have the time to drive to the tailor. We’d be the first brand to offer customised products to this market at affordable rates,” Saeed confidently reveals.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 2nd, 2012.