Inna Filipovich is engaged in a start-up project and dealing with developing the Kazakhstani brand of women apparel (co-founder and CEO of “Heybaby.kz” LLP). Prior to that, she held the position of Vice-Director of Samruk-Kazyna Invest LLP is an investment consulting subsidiary of the Samruk-Kazyna JSC (Sovereign Wealth Fund).
We asked Inna about the ideation of the local fashion brand, struggles, and expansion globally.
We wanted a business woman from Astana to look stylish.
The dilemma caught Aliya after her vacation in 2014, to return to the corporate sector or start a business. At the same time, startup movements captured Kazakhstan. She was surrounded not only by this, but her husband was also involved in various startup projects, which charged and motivated her to open her own business. She realized that there is a problem of choosing a wardrobe for a businesswoman in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. What was presented in the mass market did not satisfy the needs of a woman who works in the corporate industry, not a combination of skin color, shape, etc? The offer in the market was so limited that we even crossed paths with Aliya at some events in the same clothes. Then, Aliya suggested to sew a pencil skirt with our design and try to sell them. We liked this idea, we bought clothes, sewed them off and made our first photoshoot. A white bedsheet on the background, an amateur photographer, and of course us in the role of models. Now we look at these photos and laugh. Skirts were sold immediately, and we decided not to stop there.
In addition to skirts, we sewed dresses that were also sold very quickly. By the middle of 2015 Marina, Natasha and I joined the project, leaving the previous jobs and now four of us have already prepared collections for the next seasons, thought out and sketched with fabrics bought not in Kazakhstan. We wanted a woman from Astana in a business environment to look stylish.
It’s more challenging to live for courageous people.
We all worked in different industries, in the corporate sector, and for everyone, the transition to the new industry took place in different ways. For me, first of all, this transition has already been prompted by the rolling of thoughts that began at the time, this is overtaking, reassessment, the crisis of middle age among all people in the region of 30-35 years. By the age of 30, I already began to understand that yes, I get a high wage, but I do not see the obvious achievements of my work. It began to sublimate into something interesting, for example, I was looking for opportunities, where I can donate. I did not have much time, and I wanted to help financially. I actively participated in various projects of Global Shapers. This was the main impetus for the transition.
Secondly, I watched the movie “Territory” in 2014, a Russian production – it was a remake of the first film, which was shot back in the 80’s on the novel of the same name, which was written in the 50’s. This story is about gold diggers in Chukotka. This movie was remembered by three important moments: 1) very beautiful shooting nature, I couldn’t imagine how Chukotka can be so beautiful; 2) amazing soundtracks; and most importantly, 3) cool dialogues. One of the heroines said one phrase that it’s more challenging for courageous people to live because they live according to their dream. Many people are afraid of pursuing a dream. This phrase stuck in my head and I realized that I do not live by my dream. After this movie, probably in about two days, I resigned. By this time, Aliya came to my house with a test for pregnancy and it turned out that she was waiting for a second child, however, we built huge plans for our project. I had to immediately join the project, although I left work not because of it. I left because I needed to change something.
I was ready!
I have Russian and American education, successful work with high wage, and I was questioned by people, am I ready to exchange all this for such uncertainty? I was supported, and it wasn’t difficult! I was ready that my salary could be cut 10 times, and I would need to reduce my needs to this level. My colleague, Marina, was a little different, she worked in the creative field, so joining the project was not difficult. Natasha also refused to work in the banking sector in favor of her Moscow project then, which was closed in two years, because the project was connected to the market by subscription, and they have exhausted this goal, there could not be a logical continuation.
We came up with the name in five seconds. In fact, this is a discordant name, many of people ask, are these clothes for children or for pregnant women, as in our society the word “Baby” is known only in this way. But the name is memorable, foreigners like it, even at the reception at the American Embassy in honor to 42 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, many people who know about our brand were calling us “Hey Baby”! “It’s even like a greeting.” Now we are thinking about changing the name, we want our brand to be associated with us, not with children’s clothes. But although, even with this discordant title, we have accustomed people, and we are known.
We provide emotions and experience to our client.
We don’t call ourselves as designers, we are a Kazakhstani boutique brand. We do not express ourselves through the creation of any new fashion clothes, we see a clear problem, a need and try to solve it. We provide emotions and experience to our client. This is expressed through the consultation of stylists, we train our managers to select clothes competently for our customers. Also, in our showroom, our client can talk about an interesting topic over a cup of coffee.
The quality of service for us is the most important, if our client notices some kind of damage in clothes, then we give a big discount for her. Not only this, but if a woman due to the non-standard nature of the figure, needs a fit, we do it at our own expense. We are always open to any feedback on all platforms, and almost 24/7 we respond to feedback or questions on Direct, Website, Facebook, and WhatsApp. We take into account the color pattern, the physique of a woman from Kazakhstan, relying on the fashion colors of the season. Even sometimes, when the color of the season does not suit a woman, we can cunningly fit it into the whole image.
The whole process of creating a collection is very exciting. If they told me 10 years ago that I would do this, I would not believe it at all.
It all begins when Marina, our designer, hangs out the trends and colors of the season so that we get used to them. Next, Marina makes a mood board that we use to select and purchase fabrics and accessories, the last three times we were in Istanbul. We decided to change a strategy, we no longer go with prepared sketches, we select the fabric that we like, according to the season we are working on. This gives us more creative, we do not spend much time selecting fabrics for a particular model. After we have purchased all the fabrics, we break everything into color capsules. We have eight capsules, and in each capsule from 4 to 8 models, which are very cool to combine. For example, an orange suit and a turquoise blouse or a gray-raspberry dress and a black trench coat. After that, Marina begins to draw sketches, which approximately takes 2.5 weeks. Once the sketches are ready, we go through every sketch in detail with our design-constructor. During this process, we understand the technical part of creating a collection: what should be the length of the sleeve, whether the fabric is suitable to this model. Sometimes our designer-constructor can say that such a fabric is not suitable for creating this style, then we start brainstorming and creating a new model. After we go through all the sketches, we begin sewing! We encountered such moments when something goes wrong, the model does not fit comfortably, or the fabric does not fit, we try to correct the sketch, and of course, such cases happen rarely, we completely change the model. For example, we cut out a gray suit, which turned out very boring at the exit, we changed it into a fitted dress-shirt with patch pockets, which incidentally was a hit of sales.
I used to always think that in our country the profession of doctor, a teacher is underestimated and now I can include the job of a seamstress.
Schools of seamstresses and designers are not as developed as we say in Ukraine, and for us, it is a problem to find good specialists. I used to always think that in our country the profession of a doctor, a teacher is underestimated and now I can include the job of a seamstress because it is very hard work with various professional diseases. We provide very convenient and flexible working hours with an excellent view from the window, work in the city center, and also we write about them in our social networks, and they and our readers like it. In the interview, they note that they like the horizontal hierarchy and that they feel equal.
Many people ask us, how four girls in one team didn’t quarrel and continue building the business? In our team, we have been friends since school. I believe that if the friendship is sincere and real, it cannot be spoiled even by any business. The second point is the presence of brains. In critical moments, do not include emotions. If we see that one of us is in a negative mood, we give an opportunity to speak out. We never try to change a person in an aggressive mood, proving something. When a person cools down, we begin a constructive conversation. If in our team, someone criticizes something, then we always wait for the solution at once. I like that each of us has different traits of character, for example, I’m such a clockwork, energizer, wherein another hand Aliya is more measured, takes time for decisions, she can connect with a person I can not stand, for example. We have such a policy in the team, do not criticize without offering something; do not interrupt, listen to the end.
We have plans to go beyond Kazakhstan, into marketplaces. We have experience with the e-commerce project, Lamoda. When entering other countries, we will take into account the characteristics of women, appearance, physique. For this purpose we have two years, for the time being, we see great potential for development in Kazakhstan.