Shaping Success: Q&A with Elida Teh, Founder of D’Elegance

Elida Teh is shaping her success with D'Elegance

Shapewear — no one likes to admit they’re wearing them, yet they are one of the most essential pieces in a woman’s wardrobe.

D’Elegance is a homegrown brand that focuses on creating fashionable shapewear that combines light and airy fabrics with the latest innovations in design and technology.

Many of the brand’s customers – distinguished guests, working professionals, homemakers and beauty queens – came to know about D’Elegance through referrals. Today, the brand is known for for quality, comfortable foundation garments that are designed not only to contour a woman’s curves but raise her self-confidence, enhance her true beauty and empower her to lead a more fulfilling life.

LadyBoss spoke to Elida Teh, Founder of D’Elegance about her entrepreneurial journey.

Q: Tell us about your business, how long you’ve been doing it, and who your customers are?

A: D’Elegance is a Singapore-based shapewear brand that creates figure-contouring lingerie for the Asian silhouette. I founded the brand in 2004 and we’ve since earned a reputation for service excellence, owing to our one-to-one shapewear consultation and fitting that is provided to each client. Besides having results-driven, ready-to-wear products, this focus on service is what defines the D’Elegance brand – especially in a time where large retailers are walking away from professional bra fitting services.

Our clients come from all walks of life – we’ve served distinguished guests, business owners, working professionals, beauty queens, homemakers, and more. Many of them came to know about D’Elegance by word-of-mouth. Today, D’Elegance is the leading label for quality, comfortable shapewear that is designed not only to contour a woman’s curves but raise her self-confidence, enhance her true beauty and empower her to lead a more fulfilling life.

Q: What is shapewear and why is it important to women?

A: Shapewear is specially designed underwear that lifts, shapes and firms women in all the right places to create a well-proportioned figure instantly. This makes it easier for us to dress well, stay poised, and present ourselves in a more confident manner.

Shapewear also supports us and helps us to maintain a good posture, so that we can enjoy better health and slow down the ageing process.

When most women hear about shapewear, the first thought that usually comes to mind is that for it to work, shapewear must be worn as tightly as possible. And if you believe in that too, then your next thought will likely be about how dreadful it’s going to feel when you have to go outdoors in a humid climate like Singapore.

Q: Is shapewear suitable for women to use in a humid climate like Singapore?

This is always an interesting question for us. The answer is that it depends.

When most women hear about shapewear, the first thought that usually comes to mind is that for it to work, shapewear must be worn as tightly as possible. And if you believe in that too, then your next thought will likely be about how dreadful it’s going to feel when you have to go outdoors in a humid climate like Singapore.

But that’s not how it’s supposed to be. When you’re trying to find shapewear that fits, listen to your body and make sure comfort comes first. In particular, pay attention to the fabrics used. They should be light, airy, stretchable and durable. Having these qualities means that your shapewear will be able to compress and lift as needed, but will also allow your body to stretch and your skin to breathe. Technology can help too. For instance, some of our shapewear make use of the Japan-patented Wincool fabric which, when worn, can lower your skin temperature by up to 2°C to keep you cool and comfortable.

Always remember that a good set of shapewear should feel like second skin on your body – you put it on and forget it’s there (until you take it off).

 

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Q: In terms of sales and marketing, how do you reach your customers? 

A: Having our brand featured on local publications, TV programmes, and radio stations has helped enormously. We’re grateful for the support from the editors and producers. On that note, we thank the LadyBoss team for giving us this opportunity to share our story.

We also reach out to our clients by advertising in print media, participating in trade exhibitions, conducting shapewear seminars for organisations, sponsoring beauty pageants, and more. All these play an important role in generating brand awareness and building credibility for D’Elegance. Digital marketing has also proven to be very effective for us. We’re still experimenting with our options and learning as we go, but if I had to choose one platform, I’d say Facebook marketing has given us the highest return on investment to date (and no, it’s not about getting ‘Likes’. What you want are ‘Leads’.)

We’ve also realised that collaborations are crucial if we want to remain competitive, and have been doing our best to forge the important ties that bind. For instance, we’re working with PCC Products, a fully owned subsidiary of Thomson Medical Centre, to introduce our shapewear to new mothers and aid them in postnatal recovery and shaping. We’re also partnering with businesses whose offerings are complementary in nature (beauty salons, portrait photography, dating and image coaching, and more), and whose values are similar to D’Elegance, especially in delivering service excellence. The goal is to reach out to as many women as we can – as long as you wear underwear, we’ll find you.

Having said all that, I believe that word-of-mouth is still the single most important thing that has worked, and will continue to work, for D’Elegance. Whenever our client refers their loved ones to us, the happiness and pride that we feel is indescribable. It’s what keeps us going when times are tough.

 

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Q: What is your best-selling product/service?

A: We always tell our clients that the most valuable thing that they’ll get from shopping at D’Elegance is our service, and that it’s free. By that, I’m referring to the one-to-one shapewear consultation and fitting that we provide for each and every client. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to try before you buy – it’ll save you time, money, and effort. Regardless of whether or not you make any purchase, you can be sure that you’ll walk away knowing what to look out for when buying your next pair of undergarments. This knowledge will stay with you and benefit you for as long as you wear underwear.

Our best-selling product is the D’Elegance Long Girdle. It was designed to shape the thigh, tuck in the tummy, and lift the bottom. The first two areas are a major concern for many clients regardless of their weight. I recommend the Long Girdle to all my clients also out of personal experience. After doing a fitting for my mother, I discovered that it’s not just our skin that sags with age, but our internal organs too. That’s why it’s important to have something that holds and gives our body the support it needs.

Our vision is to become Asia’s favourite luxury shapewear brand. This means we’re always exploring opportunities to internationalise D’Elegance.

 

Q: Where do you see the future of your business?

A: Our vision is to become Asia’s favourite luxury shapewear brand. This means we’re always exploring opportunities to internationalise D’Elegance. We’ve heard from some potential partners who have expressed interest to take the brand overseas, and are weighing our options carefully before we take the next step.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to carry out our mission of helping women feel beautiful and confident about themselves and their potential by providing them with the best-in-class offering of shapewear complemented with our consultation service.

I also hope that by doing what we do, we’ll be able to raise the service standards for bra and shapewear fitting across the industry, so that all women can benefit from a better fit (no pun intended).

Q: Tell us about your Number 1 business challenge?

A: Our Number 1 business challenge is getting the right people to join our team. This requires us to look not only at specific skills and knowledge, but more importantly, at character, work ethic, and values. In a manpower-lean economy such as Singapore, this makes it even more challenging for us during recruitment.

The good news is that there is a strong and sustainable demand for quality shapewear, and we’re hopeful that professional shapewear fitting can become a vocation for women. Thus, we’ll always be looking out for women who are client-oriented, self-driven, and team players to join us as shapewear consultants and deliver the service and consultative shopping experience that customers have come to expect of D’Elegance. We’ll also have to grow our team to provide support from behind the scenes.

Thankfully, with the support of SPRING Singapore, we completed a Service Excellence Programme in 2015 and managed to put in place a number of plans and programs that will help us train and develop the right people (once we find them).

We aim to develop a strong Singaporean core soon, one that is ready to help D’Elegance grow locally and globally, and achieve our vision of becoming Asia’s favourite luxury shapewear brand within the next five years.

Written By

Liyana is a Co-Founder and Editor of LadyBoss. She is also Co-Founder of Anagram Group, a corporate training company which serves over 100 MNCs and government clients in Singapore, Asia, and the UK. She also advises SMEs on their marketing communications strategy through her communications consultancy, Anagram Communications. Prior to Anagram, Liyana was Head of Communications for Singapore's largest foreign chamber, and Content Editor of Singapore Business Review. Outside of work, Liyana enjoys travel and spending time with her husband and baby twins.

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