Meet CEO and the face behind the e-commerce sensation, AMI Clubwear, Yang Yang. She’s always had a love for fashion and designer brands, but could never afford the designer price tag. Her love for fashion is the sole reason that led to her career. She began by selling items at an affordable price on EBay and eventually launched her very own e-commerce site, AMIClubwear.com in 2004. The brand has since sky rocketed and is growing daily.
Based in Los Angeles, the stylish CEO took some time out to chat with Lioness about her growing company and its intersection of fashion, design and e-commerce.
Lioness: Why have you chosen to dedicate yourself to this particular business?
Yang: Growing up in a very strict family, along with attending a conservative school in Beijing, China, (you can only wear school uniforms and have short hair and no make up), inspired my love for fashion and beauty. I remember reading fashion magazines secretly, dreaming of the day I could pick my own clothes, not wear a uniform anymore, grow out my hair and wear makeup.
My father wanted me to be an architect like him. So I had all the professional training; sketching, painting, photography, etc. Although architecture wasn’t my dream, these practices helped me in my journey into fashion, design and the world of e-commerce.
Lioness: What makes business unique?
Yang: We offer a large variety of styles, adding 1,000 new products to the website daily. Swimsuits alone we have 7,000 styles. We pride ourselves in fast and efficient shipping. Unlike other companies, we don’t have buyers. I do all the purchasing myself, and dedicate a lot of my time to finding the trendiest styles at affordable prices. This allows us to keep our prices low, thus offering the best deals around.
Lioness: You could have worked for anyone and would have been successful, why become an entrepreneur?
Yang: Growing up watching my father start and build his own company, I admired the respect of being your own boss. Being the only daughter, I was expected to take over his company, but I wanted a business of my own. I was so inspired by him always sitting at the head of the table, and I wanted that role, but at my own table. Not to just come in and sit in his chair. By having my own successful company, I was determined to make my family proud of me.
Lioness: What was your last, “why did I go into business for myself” moment?
Yang: When my site went off-line on Black Friday because there’s too much traffic on the site. And my phone starting to get messages from people trying to shop on the site. Eeek!
Lioness: Every female professional should have __________ .
Lioness: If you could steal some business mojo from another mogul, who would it be and why?
Yang: Coco Chanel. She is stylish and created timeless fashion.
Lioness: What is your business motto?
Yang: Positive place for girls.
Lioness: If you could give other entrepreneurs three tips, what would they be?
Yang: 1. If you start a business working for yourself, thinking you are going to work less hours, you are wrong. You are going to work more. 2. Make sure to balance business and family life. 3. Owning a business, you cannot just do what you like to do. People say, if you find something you enjoy doing, then you are never working. It’s not true. Because there’s always something in the business that’s tedious, and not glamorous. Be prepared to do the dirty job.
Lioness: Has there been a piece of technology or software that has been a lifesaver to you?
Yang: My laptop, because I own an e-commerce website. Anytime there’s something wrong with one of the sites, I am prepared to fix it. I don’t need to wait for my programmers.
Lioness: What is your goal for the next year?
Yang: To spend more time with my kids, while continuing to grow the business.
Lioness: When someone is telling their friend about your business, what do you hope they say?
Yang: OMG, AMI Clubwear has the best styles and for half the price!