How Styline Has Built An Everything Modest Lifestyle Marketplace
Styline is a modest lifestyle marketplace headquartered in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Launched in April 2015, the relatively early days of a fast-growing fashion trend modest fashion, Styline has experienced phenomenal growth over the past four years and has successfully positioned itself as a leader in modest fashion online marketplace space in Bangladesh.
Styline started with one product-line: Hijab. In the early days, it used to import and work with local designers and sellers to aggregate excellent quality and beautiful design of hijabs. It became an instant hit. In no time modest fashion lovers started to flock to its platforms – website, app and social media channels. While Styline grew quickly and consistently, it remained true to its ambition – turning itself into a modest fashion destination for women.
Enabled by initial growth, Styline has invested in innovation, opened up its marketplace for other modest fashion brands and expanded to a host of verticals related to fashion and beauty. In 2016, it added the modest dress to its product-line – a new category comprising of burka, Abaya, and other related modest fashion products. In 2018, it added halal and organic cosmetics. Both segments have seen healthy growth.
With the expansion of its product-line, Styline also invested in growing its marketplace. The drive has paid off. Today, almost all the top modest fashion and organic beauty brands have a presence on the Styline marketplace, many of whom have seen incredible growth in sales from Styline. Styline aims higher and is working on bringing foreign brands on the platform.
While these expansions are a manifestation of the consistent growth of Styline as a company, it also tells that the modest fashion industry in Bangladesh is poised to grow exponentially. That it is a demand-driven market where innovation and hard work can go a long way.
“The opportunities in this space are endless,” says Styline Founder and CEO Khobaib Chowdhury. “To ensure that we stay ahead in the market, we have been investing consistently in innovation and people. We have built a culture of learning and innovation that we believe is essential to achieve our next level of growth.”
“Our study gives us immense confidence. In 2019, we plan to bring at least 400 active dress partners in Styline platform. It will help to grow the SKUs, which will positively affect the sale. For this to happen, we need smart people in our team – who can build process and make plans, and then execute our goals.”
An incredible opportunity
Styline’s expansion to categories like dress, halal and organic cosmetics has given it an incredible growth opportunity. “Each of these categories is exclusive, untapped, niche and has all the potential to become an independently huge business in the next few years,” says Khobaib.
Styline works with leading local and international brands who sell their products on Styline marketplace. Although Styline started with hijab alone, today it sells everything modest, including but not limited to, abaya, burqa, exclusive hijab, organic cosmetics and so on. All these products come from various leading brands. Styline has many leading local and international brands on its platform. But the company aims higher.
In 2019, it plans to launch multiple new product-lines for the same consumers and complete the circle.
“People know Styline for hijab. While we cater to our own hijab brand for the last few years, we are also a marketplace of modest lifestyle products. Over the past few years, we have come to understand our consumers better. Today, Styline is a reliable name in the modest fashion space. If you ask a customer why you go to Styline, they have an answer for that,” says Khobaib. “Now we are at an exciting stage where we are inviting top local and international modest fashion and beauty brands to Styline platform. The goal is to become a complete destination for modest fashion and beauty needs of our users.”
At times life gives us an opportunity to build something consequential and of great impact and scale. If you are some who finds meaning in creating and building things, the market where Styline operates offers a similar opportunity (Styline is hiring in its leadership program).
An ingenious strategy
“If you observe, you will see how meticulous we are when it comes to launching a new product line. A lot of work goes into making these decisions. From outside, it seems no brainer that we would expand to adjacent markets, but it is rarely that simple. Adjacent vertical is not enough, you have to see whether there is a real growth opportunity. Every new category that we launched so far is unique and independently offers unparalleled growth opportunity,” says Khobaib.
This deliberate approach to expansion has been a huge advantage for Styline. In most cases, it has been able to successfully identify hits. The advantage Styline has from the beginning is that it has started in a niche. Niche is the mother of all good strategy on the internet. If you read the success stories of ecommerce companies, most of them started in a niche and gradually expanded to other markets. Amazon is the epitome of this strategy. “This is what we follow – choose a village where you are strong and win it. Don’t go to the city at the beginning. This is one of the reasons why a lot of people don’t know about us and we are OK with that because we only go to people who need to know about us. Probably this is a reason lot of male people didn’t hear about Styline”, says Khobaib.
Styline at a glance:
- Styline was launched in April 2015 with only one product-line – Hijab. Since then, it has expanded to multiple verticles
- In 2016, it expanded to modest Dress
- In 2018, it entered Halal and Organic Cosmetics market,
- Styline introduced its new retail concept in 2017 and today, has 5 experience hubs a.k.a outlets in Dhaka, Chittagong, and Sylhet. The ambition is to integrate online and offline shopping experience
- Styline is working on an expansion plan outside Bangladesh to cater its existing niche market where it has built expertise over the past years.
- In November 2018, Styline was selected as one of the top 40 next-generation internet companies in South Asia and Southeast Asia that led to the opportunity to join Alibaba’s eFounder Fellowship Program.
Online to offline – building trust brick by brick
In 2017, Styline introduced its first offline experience hub in Shyamoli – a Styline retail outlet where customers could come and check Styline products and then order offline or online. The following year, 2018, Styline opened three more outlets – one in Jamuna Future Park, one in Sylhet and another in port city Chittagong.
Getting into physical retail is an ingenious strategy on the part of Styline. These physical stores could be an entry point for many customers who are not accustomed to online world or have limited faith on the online sellers and eventually help Styline to have an initial interaction with the customers and turn them into loyal customers.
“We are integrating online shopping and offline experience by setting several experience stores. This works as a bridge between what our customers see online and then experiencing it in real life,” says Khobaib. It makes decision making easier for our customers.”
Globally, consumers spent $254 billion on modest attire alone in 2016, according to the latest Global Islamic Economy report. The report predicted the market could reach $373 billion by 2022. If you add other verticals like cosmetics, it offers an unparalleled opportunity. In Bangladesh, modest fashion is one of the fastest growing trends.
In last 3 and a half years Styline has grown from a one-man show to a 40+ people team. It has expanded to multiple verticals, built excellent brand awareness in the market for modest fashion and become the largest online marketplace for modest fashion and beauty. It has opened 5 outlets across Bangladesh and plans to offer more sales points to connect online and store shoppers.
Styline is now working on its next level of growth and is working on finding talents who can lead it down the line five to ten years. “Everyday is a new day,” says Chowdhury. We have had a good run so far. As we are more sustainable now, we are focusing both on short term growth (sales) and long term goals (business development). We are at a stage where we need leaders who are driven and smart and can execute and deliver the result to take us to the next level”.
Within a short period of time, Styline has been able to position itself as a leading marketplace for modest fashion in Bangladesh. It has many plans. It is working on a project to launch designers’ dress in collaboration with fashion designers in the modest fashion space. “We are planning to launch a series of new dress collection with 100 fashion designers”. It has started a small scale experiment in collaboration with a few manufacturers where its customer can get custom made dresses.
Styline has ambitious goals for two of its relatively new categories: cosmetics and dress. “We want to be the largest marketplace for halal and organic cosmetics.”On the modest dress part, though the demand is super high and the market is big, still the product line is not nurtured in a structured manner – a totally untapped market to try. “Our study gives us immense confidence. In 2019, we plan to bring at least 400 active dress partners in Styline platform. It will help to grow the SKUs, which will positively affect the sale. For this to happen, we need smart people in our team – who can build process and make plans, and then execute our goals.”
An opportunity of a lifetime
At times life gives us an opportunity to build something consequential and of great impact and scale. If you are some who finds meaning in creating and building things, the market where Styline operates offers a similar opportunity (Styline is hiring for its leadership program).
Globally, consumers spent $254 billion on modest attire alone in 2016, according to the latest Global Islamic Economy report. The report predicted the market could reach $373 billion by 2022. If you add other verticals like cosmetics, it offers an unparalleled opportunity.
In Bangladesh, modest fashion is one of the fastest growing trends. Styline understands this opportunity. It has slowly been building its foundation over the last three years and is now ready to go to the next stage. “Our goal,” says Khobaib Chowdhury, “is to become the lifestyle platform of Bangladesh within the next 10 years. What we are doing is utilizing technology to offer customers an excellent shopping experience. Our ambition is to support 1 Million SMEs to build an e-commerce ecosystem in Styline platform by 2024 and we are looking for people who could contribute to building that future.”
Styline is well on its way to becoming the Lifestyle Platform of Bangladesh. Styline is hiring for leadership positions and you may take a chance in making something happen.
Make a difference: Exciting Career Opportunities at Styline
If you are someone who finds meaning in creating and building things, if you are passionate about modest fashion and want to build a meaningful career in the industry and be a leader at a fast-growing startup, this is your opportunity to make a dent in the universe difference. Explore opportunities here.
(This story was developed by Storylab, Future Startup’s in-house branded content studio, in collaboration with Styline marketing team.)