Creativity and hardwork lead to growing empire: The humble beginnings of Cosry Wise (M) Sdn Bhd are truly inspiring, considering the company is currently one of the leading names in Malaysian high fashion.

Updated: Wednesday February 12, 2014 MYT 8:26:48 AM

Creativity and hardwork lead to growing empire

BY ZIEMAN

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Cosry is owned by Ariff (left) and Putra Aziz, who is the designer

The humble beginnings of Cosry Wise (M) Sdn Bhd are truly inspiring, considering the company is currently one of the leading names in Malaysian high fashion.

Ariff Quasry Md Nor and Putra Aziz, the two partners behind the fashion house, started their business with seed money of just RM2,000 in 2004. Back then they offered door-to-door tailoring services to a small group of special customers that included ladies in high society.

Their reputation for reliable service and beautiful designs spread through word of mouth and soon they moved to a quaint location in Shah Alam to set up their boutique, and called it Cosry (derived from Arif’s second name Quasri).

“The boutique doubled up as our showroom and workshop. We sacrificed a lot of time and money to make sure our business grew. Each of our completed haute couture garments was a work of love and got positive feedback.

“Initially, these pieces had no price tag. We just wanted to build our brand name because that was more important,” said Arif, an accounting graduate from UUM, who is the managing director of the company.

Putra, the designer behind the clothes, said he remembered the biggest pay cheque they ever received then was RM3,800.

“We tried to cater to out clients’ specific requirements and we stood by the belief that our customers were always right. Though of course, we advised them on what was best for them and their budgets. Our affordable prices, high-end fabrics and quality tailoring delivered to their door steps proved to be a winning formula,” said Putra whose eye for colour, texture and quality of fabric has become a major asset for the company.

Since their door-to-door tailoring services were rare in those days, it became a hit.

That inspired them to labour on their passion more aggressively. Within a year, they managed to saveRM30,000, which made it possible for them to invest more in their business. The House of Cosry was officially launched in 2006 and operated from a small bungalow in Bangsar.

Since then, Cosry has earned a position in the Malaysian fashion industry as a boutique that creates elaborate, exclusive handcrafted kebaya adorned with intricate embroidery, lace, beading and modern designs.

Before long, Cosry’s stylish signature kebaya collections began to draw attention regionally.

“Initially, many felt our clothes were exorbitantly priced but that’s not true. A lot of effort is put into the designs and the intricate detailing. Each creation is unique and all the pieces are tailored to each customer. This is the essence of houte couture,” he said.

Today, after 10 years, the House of Cosry has diversified and branched beyond couture. The fashion house now offers the Cosry Boutique line tailored for modern professional women, Cosry Purple Label ready-to-wear traditional attire and Cosry BodyCurve girdles and corsetry.

Beyond fashion, the company now offers event management through its arm Cosry Event Management and Wedding Planner, and has a line of cosmetics called Cosry Skin Therapy.

“There was no short cut to get to where we are today. What we have achieved is a result of careful planning, research and hard work. All the accolades that we received only inspired us to spread the power of Cosry brand,” said Putra, who aspires to take Cosry designs to the next level.

An accomplished fashion designer in his own right, Putra attributes his success to accomplished Indonesian designers who mentored him.

For him, the most crucial skill for a fashion designer is to have creative drawing skills.

“You must be creative and have your own style and expression. A good fashion designer must have an eye for details,” said the 38-year-old bachelor.

Beyond his talent, fate and destiny helped shape Putra’s life. A chance meeting with Ariff in Jakarta years ago helped them build a life-long friendship. Incidentally, the two are also related by marriage. So when Ariff decided to start a boutique, he called Putra who was then 21, to join him.

A young Putra arrived and worked his way into the hearts of many loyal customers. His workmanship as a tailor was well established and immediately became the toast of many VIPs.

Ariff, who acted as Putras mentor, didn’t have to recommend Putra’s work to his friends and VIPs. His signature style spread like wild fire and he soon earned a name as the designer of local stars, high-ranking businesswomen and royalty.

Putra has designed lavish gowns for the likes of Siti Nurhaliza, Erra Fazira, Fauziah Ghouse, Lisa Surihani, Sheila Majid and other celebrities.

In October 2010, Cosry was chosen to organise the wedding ceremony of Malaysia’s first astronaut Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Sheikh Mustapha to Datin Dr Halina Mohd Yunos.

The event at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre was dubbed the “wedding of the decade” and was televised live by TV3 and TV9.

According to Putra, it is the detailing in his designs that make all his pieces unique and the little differences that make a design stand out.

“Once you put an idea on paper with a certain concept, the seamstress will be able to capture this visual and come up with a finished product,” said Putra who plans to start a new line of Cosry shoes next.

He says, to stay ahead of the fashion business, one needs to be creative.

“Creativity is important because fresh ideas will undoubtedly ensure you do not lag behind in the competition.

“However, ithout a thorough understanding of the business, especially the sales and marketing aspects of it, it will be difficult to stay ahead in this business. To keep the company profitable, that is the real headache,” said Ariff who is entrusted with the business aspects of the company.

Cosry now has 23 employees under its payroll and has three boutiques — one in Petaling Jaya, one in Bangsar and one in Mina in Saudi Arabia.

By April this year, the company is going to open two more boutiques in Kuching, Sarawak and Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei.

“We hope to open another boutique in Jakarta by next year and start introducing the Cosry Home Living furnishing line.

We are also working on the Cosry Hijrah line of attire specially for Muslim women, which will feature headgear, shawls, telekung and robes. Our aim is to penetrate the European and Middle-Eastern markets,” said Ariff, 42.

For Ariff and Putra, the key to their success is a strong sense of camaraderie and teamwork between the staff.

“All the teamwork and strong sense of collaboration is what drives us forward. We try to encourage our team to work well together by putting aside differences,” said Ariff who is regarded as.

Since looking after the welfare of his staff ranks high on his priority list, Ariff rents a premise to house them. This location also serves as a workshop. He also caters food for all his workers.

“Experience has shown us in order to have a winning team, we must treat our staff well. Only then success will follow. We must look after their needs, make them happy and they will give their dedication and loyalty,” said Arif who hails from Ampangan, Negri Sembilan.

The company is staffed by eight experienced seamstresses, seven bead artists in charge of beads and sequins and the rest help out with everything from sewing buttons and stitching.

One of the main reasons why the fashion house has made a big impact in the local fashion industry is because of the support from their loyal customers.

“We listen to our customers and try to live up to their expectations. We have to be prepared to adapt to our customers needs. How we win their hearts is what sets us apart from the rest,” said Putra who aspired to be a fashion designer ever since he was in his teens.

His main task now is to develop footwear, which will add value to Cosry designs.

“When it comes to designs, one has to be original. You can only imitate style to a certain degree. An the end of it all, its your own craft or style that matters,” said Putra, who is looking forward to grow Cosy’s product range over the next year.

As for its ready-to-wear clothes, Cosry is planning something exciting this year.

“We are coming up with a mid-range line to cater to the young and middle-aged professionals. We are trying to move away from the perception that Cosry only caters for the high-end group. So now our creations are for everyone,” said Ariff.

 

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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