Kate Robertson always wanted to be an entrepreneur. To fulfill her dream and experiences adventures, she joins the Peace Corps as a Small Business Development Volunteer after her graduation in business administration. After joining the Peace Corps, they sent her to the Andes Mountains of Peru. She worked two and half years in Peru with the artisans and developed a new business plan in her mind. So, in 2010, Kate created the company called Mayu LLC in Chicago. Mayu LLC offers hand-knit fashion accessories. These accessories made by the artisans with pure Peruvian alpaca fiber. Though she creates this new business for her own profit, but she also wanted to be in touch with the Peace Corps community.
Through Mayu LLC, Kate wanted to give an additional income source to the Peruvian women and help them to start a better life. She also wanted to fulfill the market demands for knitwear products. And the knitwear that Mayu LLC provides in the market is very real of a kind, it’s very different from other stores because all of the knitwear company did not provide real product, so the market demand of her product was very high. But Kate started Mayu LLC so quickly that she did not even have a proper business plan. After one year, Kate started to face a number of challenges. The major problems Kate faced that she had no proper team to work with. She only received advice from her family. In her company, her father acts as a legal advisor and had only one web designer who guided her to managing a web site. She had a normal web site from where she manages her online sells. But knitwear products are all about the feel of the alpaca fiber. A normal website cannot give that to the customers. For this reasons, at last Kate set a short term plan for Mayu LLc. To improve her business, she plans to hire a specialized fashion designer in knitwear. She also completes agreement with a professional photographer, model and a make-up team. Kate also know that it would be difficult to manage Mayu LLC from Chicago so she decided that she will travel to Peru periodically to work with the artisans face to face. She thinks this new business plan will take her business into the next level and make her a successful entrepreneur.
As Mayu is a small company. The product of Mayu is unique in the market. To increase the sale, The Mayu has to promote the product. The target market has a huge audience; the marketing budget is very high. The expense of every platform of digital media is high. It is difficult for a small company. They are trying to promote it on Social media, Website on each clicks.
Brand recognition means a consumer can easily find a product. But the Mayu company failed to promote the product. They want to sale the product through online. It is cost effective. In 2010, The Mayu are selling the product though online. At that time, Consumer buy product from online. A limited number of people buy from them. There was no promotion about The Mayu product on social media or TV platforms. They did not have any commercial Advertisements. So, the Consumer do not know about the Brand.
Communication as a challenge:
Kate is operating in Usa. It is difficult to manage Mayu from her home which is based in Chicago without frequent visits to Peru. She communicated with her producer via telephone and occasionally by e-mail. The Artisan do not know how to use computer and did not have consistent access to cellular phone. It is very difficult to maintain a good relationship.
Take a long time to reach the raw materials:
The Artisan live in rural areas. It is very far from the capital (Lima) of the Peru. When the artisan orders the raw materials, It took a long time to reach. They order the raw materials from the online. It takes a long time to reach.
Tendency to buy fashionable and luxurious product:
The Mayu Company have targeted the female audience. The female audience are attracted to buy the fashionable and luxurious product because it shows a different personality. The Mayu products are very simple. They are not fashionable product.
MAYU LLC is a Social spirit driven company selling hand knit unique alpaca fashion accessories and clothing. Kate Robertson is the founder of Mayu LLC. At first, Kate started the company with selling hand-knit fashion accessories made with Peruvian alpaca fiber by the artisan with whom she worked. Then, Kate observed the market opportunity and demand that gave her the motivation to fulfill her entrepreneurial spirit.
Mayu LLC is now a registered trademark. Kate made online marketing strategy to build up a high quality, one-of-kind, ultra-classic alpaca accessories. At the same time, Kate took the attention of American consumers by exclusive, stylish design and offering a unique difference from other mass-produced, machine made accessories found in brick-and-mortar and Internet based shops in Peru and United Stated.
In clothing and accessories industry, Kate faced various ill situation in stabling the economic growth but never tumbled from the target market and grabbed the opportunity of Green, sustainable and online trends. Now, Mayu LLC establishes a renowned place on e-commerce and fashion industry.
Problems Faced by Mayu LLC
- There are some offline and online stores those have advantages in terms of brand awareness and online presence over Mayu LLC. These well established and renowned stores have a higher budget to expand business and develop marketing strategies.
- As Mayu LLC has not an established brand yet, it’s difficult to sell the costly and high end product through online. A customer gets the beauty of alpaca when he/she could touch the materials and try out the products in physical market. Kate was driving the customers towards website with a limited marketing budget and convincing them that higher – priced products were worth the investment.
- It’s difficult to hire 3 proper sales representatives for East, West and Midwest coast those who will represent Mayu’s product line perfectly. Because if Kate fails to hire the proper sales representatives, it will decrease both the company’s profit and brand recognition.
- Kate did the plan of participating in trade shows such as Chicago’s StyleMax to place Mayu’s alpaca accessories in front of thousands of retailers. But It would cost nearly 5000$ (which is pretty high for a small company like Mayu LLC) and profitability is not guaranteed.
- It’s difficult for Kate to maintain the communication with the artisans because they are not enough computer literate and don’t have a consistent access to cellular phones.
- To ensure the consistency and quality of products, Kate faced some problems. The Peruvians were less demanding and had different ideas of what constituted high quality. The artisans were dishonest as well. They kept claiming certain products would arrive on certain date but they had not even been knit yet in reality.
- Kate was receiving advices from a number of individuals. But she did not have a fixed formal advisory board. So there was lack of consistent advices as well.
Recommendations for Mayu LLC
According to the case, the problems faced by Mayu LLC were quiet tactically handled by Kate Robertson. She used various newer and up to date strategies of e-business to tackle those situations which helped Mayu to overcome many of its downturns. Yet there are some other measures Kate could take to overcome the problems.
Building a strong strategic team consisting of experienced and experts in the fashion and e-commerce fashion industry can help Mayu a lot to thrive amongst the ever growing competition.
Kate can use the method of outsourcing some less core works to some experts such as outsourcing the logistics in order to lessen the amount of time it takes to get the supply from Peru. Of course after getting a proper cost-benefit analysis.
Another way of increasing channel would be creating a mobile app of MAYU LLC which would enable the users to order and pay via mobile technology and thus it would make more impact on the recent generation who prefers handier shopping.
Mayu is already a trendy organization supporting recent trends such as Green trend, sustaining the economy trend, wearable trend causing little to no harm to the environment. Also Mayu has established a benchmark in corporate social responsibility.
They can achieve and retain the target market more by promoting the trends more and more rather than just promoting the products.
Again can consider creating a great entrepreneurial organizational structure by incorporating young fresh minds who can come up with newer entrepreneurial strategies keeping pace with the up to date market, demand and technology.
As Mayu did not start with a proper business plan it can consider revising its strategies and incorporate a proper revised business plan considering information of the production, distribution and marketing.
Another strategy to overcome the communication problem with the artisans who produce the products can be educating the force for the minimum communication abilities. This will not only reduce the communication problem but also serve as a strength to the company as a CSR activity.