Most of you may not know who I am (until now that is). I am Mel, COO of Faire Leather Co. - and that liner you see above has been my personal motto for as long as I can remember identifying with one.
A Typical Day @ Work
On a “typical” day, I cover an array of daily duties including keep tabs on our inventory levels, shipping efficiencies, P&L, as well as purchasing timelines just to name a few. As we speak, I’m working on improving our ERP system for real-time updates across multiple platforms and tools that we utilise. Recently, I’ve also taken on customer service with an aim to keep our response times within 48 hours, and our quality control in check.
As a feedback-aware brand entering the highly-competitive marketplace, we promised ourselves to rise above by not only creating stellar products like luxury travel bags, leather tech organizers and slim leather wallets to help you organize your daily lives, but also never forgetting that our customers (before and/or after the purchases) will always be our utmost priority, and a key factor to our long-term success.
The “busy-ness” does come in waves, and sometimes you don’t even know what hit you! (See what I did there?) Yet that’s really what keeps this role exciting - there are never two days that round up too similar, which really keeps things dynamic.
Other Areas of Work
From time-to-time, I also sit-in for our Product Development meetings, contributing with my past experience as well as ensuring that we optimise our packaging for cross-border shipping. This is not a typical focus for a Product meeting, but it is when I am there! This ensures that we don’t have to factor a huge percentage just to cover the shipping costs. This is done, of course, with no compromise on the functionality or design of the product(s).
I also partake in our external meetings with potential collaborators and partners, understanding their business strategies and goals, and aligning them with ours for synergy.
All Rainbows & Butterflies?
Anyone who tells you Yes is probably lying :)
One of the most difficult (and less typical) parts of eCommerce-based businesses providing Products which most might not know of, is Logistics and Fulfilment. For one, without a clear picture of the options, lead-times, potential hidden costs, as well as pros and cons of each option, costs could spiral out of control even before you know it. Additionally, any inability to optimise these options based on factors such as product weight & size, customers’ geographical locations as well as any special requirements could lead to much frustration for both the brand and customers alike.
As such, the first major task I took on was to understand the options we had, crunch the numbers, run a few rounds of negotiations, and pick the right ones for us. Between our first batch of fulfilment and the next few, we managed to reduce our shipping costs by a significant percentage, thereby allowing us to raise prices at a much slower rate than our costs were increasing.
Rule of Thumb
I always bear in mind that I am a consumer too - and in every decision, I contemplate. Will our customers be alright with this? Will they understand? What can we do to make it better?
Despite our carefully thought through processes and efforts, we do still face (some) customers who tend to get nasty; and I admittedly get personally affected because I know for a fact that we were doing absolutely whatever we could to optimise the purchase journey, including staying up till the other side of the globe woke up for the day just so we wouldn’t have to wait another day to process things. At times, I questioned why I was working so hard…
Above all that though, are the positive encouragements from other customers, family and friends, and the support from the Faire team that make the tough times worth it, and keeps us going and striving for more.
The Road that lies Ahead
There is no telling what lies ahead with absolute certainty, but I do know that the team will continue to work tirelessly to bring you more functional luxury at a fair price, along with outstanding service and communication.
Whilst striving to excel at this role, I will also strive to leave my laptop temporarily (please understand if I disappear for awhile!) to sneak in a Zumba class or two, join my Dragonboat team for a training session, or read a book to regroup my thoughts as I strive to excel in living Life as well.
For there is a wise Chinese saying - 休息是为了走更长远的路 - that reminds us that we rest for the continuance of the longer journey ahead.
Prior to Faire, Melissa Kay Soh (Mel) was Head of Brands Development at the Y Ventures Group (Joint Venture partner of Faire) managing the Amazon (North America) business unit through the value chain; she was also part of the key team leading multiple brand projects, including the launch of Faire Leather Co. via Kickstarter.
In the early years of her career journey upon graduation, Mel honed her skills in the areas of Product Development, Channel Management and Business Development.
Mel holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accountancy and Marketing from Singapore Management University.