Tassiny banks on festive sales

Around year end, for the past 20 years, Tassiny that sells school uniforms, bags and related items, had enjoyed brisk sales as parents especially in the Ampang area, would be shopping for the new school term.

But this time round, there are no parents and little feet of children running around the shop.

Sales of school uniforms and bags are down 80% at Tassiny, as schools, affected by the resurgence of Covid-19, remain closed till December 17.

While waiting for better days, founder Judy Lau is focusing on her other products – ladies and men’s undergarments as well as bags ranging from backpacks, luggage, pouch and waist bags.

She has to quickly beef up the selections to be in time for the festive sales; the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) period may be on, but people still celebrate on a smaller scale.

Over the past three weeks, sales for undergarments and bags have gone up slightly, with the current festive season starting with Deepavali, followed by Christmas and Chinese New Year.

“Luckily, sales have improved a bit lately,’’ said Judy. “It is mostly from regular customers.’’

She sold a lot of undergarments of normal and big sizes, while among the bags, backpacks were the most popular.

People may not be travelling much these days, but she still managed to sell some luggage bags.

About 80% of the undergarments at Tassiny are imported, mostly from China, and to make the product range more appealing, she started bringing in special designs from Thailand.

It is not only ladies but also men who select the various designs of undergarments for their wives and girlfriends.

Judy has a background in selling ladies wear; she was supervisor of the ladies department in the former Fajar supermarket in Damansara Uptown.

In the next company that she worked for, she was senior supervisor also of the ladies department.

She formed Tassiny in 1997, smack in the middle of the Asian financial crisis but her business was resilient.

Her strategy was to focus on items that were regarded as necessities – school uniforms, bags and related items as well as undergarments.

And that strategy had worked well until the pandemic struck; sales of all school-related items fell by 60%, while that of other products dropped by about 30%.

Throughout the years, Judy had built up a steady clientele for her three shops in the Ampang area.

Serving two generations of parents when they were school going, and their present young children, she had struck warm relationships with the families around the area.

Clients also come from the Melawati side, other parts of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

“We can chit-chat and laugh together like old friends; customers sometimes invite us for their children’s weddings,’’ said Judy.

By focusing on a few niche products and offering a wide selection for choice, she wants customers to think of her shop first when they are looking for these items.

In view of the new normal, she realizes that she has to learn more about online sales; her first step was to sign up on The Artisans Haven.

Judy really hopes that this spread of Covid-19 can be controlled soon, and parents can come shopping for the school reopening next year.

Keeping stock for school uniforms can be quite a challenge, with different sizes, lengths of sleeves, patterns and colours of, for example, yellow, green, pink and white, involved.

With suppliers, she finds that having built trust is important at times like this; she gets good terms and some flexibility in terms of payments.

Unlike during the earlier Movement Control Order (MCO) where part of the staff salaries was paid by the government, she has been footing the bill during this CMCO period.

Initial news of a vaccine being found 90% effective, makes her happy, and she hopes that this cloud of uncertainty hanging over her business, can be cleared soon.  

By Yap Leng Kuen, Chief Storyteller, The Artisans Haven


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