“Khos bekhi” brand- Dream came true after 12 years


2018-03-28 08:30 GMT+8

                                                              -Start up business-

When I first started working, I was determined to keep up to the faith my sister had in me. Then my boss sent me to the university and I strived not to disappoint my colleagues, my boss, and teachers.

All those determination and ambition to keep those people’s faith and confidence in me, I came to value quality above all. For this reason, I always tell my co-workers and employees to do everything with high quality and nicely.

D.Binderiya, who has worked and taught many others in textile sector for 20 years, shared her start-up business story with us. Based on her experience in the textile industry, she established “Khos Bekhi” LLC.

Binderya carried the dream of her own cashmere and textile company for over 12 years, which has come to be fulfilled. Today, the company produces various cashmere and wool products, namely chic dresses, cozy sweaters, warm coats and many more under the brand name “Khos Bekhi”.

“Mongol Mind” invited her as the next businesswoman.

- First of all, could you please introduce your brand and products to our readers?

-Our company, “Khos Bekhi” LLC was established in 2014. We produce and provide care services for cashmere, sheep wool, and yak wool products. Main products include decorated dress, sweater, capes, coats, hats, and scarves. In addition to those products with classic design, we also produce clothing with Mongolian traditional design.

Plus, we also produce personalized and special products upon orders from fashion designers. We have some talented designers as customers, such as Katya Zol, Ariunaa Suri, and Ch.Sarangerel. It’s not like every young designer has the means to establish a textile shop just to create a design. Therefore, these young designers cooperate with workshops like us. 

- How did you come to become a businesswoman?

- Well, there have been times that my friends opened their own companies and offered me to work with them. Some of my students, who came to me for advice in their business, have now become quite successful as well. Even though I pursued an academic career, I guess I always had a hidden desire to start my own business.

In the last few years, I had completed my master’s study, enrolled in doctorate degree, and took part in a professional development training in Germany, all thanks to our university and projects I’ve been working on. My education has been such a blessing to me so I couldn’t just bring myself to quit.

So it went like that until 2014, when I finally decided to get out of my comfort zone and test my limits, thus starting my private business.

-You are an experienced professional in textile sector. However, as an entrepreneur, management skills are also needed in addition to expertise. What was the first thing you noticed as you started your business?

-Well, I used to think that I could do all textile procedures with my eyes closed. That was my founding hope I guess. However, I realized that technical knowledge and expertise are not enough for doing business. It requires marketing, management and leadership skills, and financial knowledge on top of professional skills, all in relation with each other.

Doing what you love is the key to sustainability. I’ve dreamed of my own business for 12 years, until finally registering my company in December 2014. As expectable of someone who worked only in academic sphere, I honestly knew nothing about business.

Exactly one year ago, my mother-in-law told me about a course, intended to provide grants for start up businesses after participating in trainings twice. Therefore, I went to the Women’s business center, which is financed by the Asia Foundation, City Governor’s Office and KOICA.

Trainings conducted by this center really did attract me like a magnet. After the first two trainings, not only I continued to attend, but also didn’t miss one. The Women’s business center trainings are only four hours long per day, but are very fruitful, inspiring for the participants, explains unknown topics very clearly, and in a way, called me to come back every time.

At the end of last March, a call for projects for Incubation program was announced. I used to prepare project documents for others before, so I thought writing proposal would be no problem. However, having found out more about writing a project proposal during the training, I spent over 10 days effort to finish the proposal. Thankfully, my proposal was selected for the Incubation program and was awarded to participate in a four-month accelerated program. That was a very precious moment.

The accelerated training of 4 months incubation program provided expertise and help of various mentors from project stakeholders, namely Development Solution NGO, City Governor’s Office, Golomt Capital LLC and Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce, about basic business knowledge of product/service development, team/HR composition and development etc.

The trainings were fantastic. Start-up entrepreneurs had the opportunity to take useful, inspiring advises from good mentors. They taught us everything related to business, where to start and how to keep it successfully. For example, I made a thorough research again and identified our brand’s target segment anew.

-You are a former university professor as well as an experienced professional. Could you tell us your career story, and why did you choose textile sector?

It happened 22 years ago, when I was a young mother. At that time I was looking after my baby and unemployed. One day, my sister told me that the Gobi factory was recruiting trainees, and to go apply for apprenticeship there. Although at first I didn’t even know where the factory was located, I became one of 36 apprentices in the sewing section. After 4 months of apprenticeship, I became a full-time employee there.

I was very passionate to learn, try and explore back then. The more someone told me to give up or cease something, I would put more effort to succeed that I used to observe every single procedures of the factory to learn. After three years, I won in a three-months campaign called “100% quality worker” among over 100 workers. I was awarded a cashmere sweater, and I still recall the occasion until today.

One day, our engineer called me and asked, “What is your future plan? Are you planning to study?”

Studying in the university is my childhood dream. So I told him I would. At that time, Gobi factory had 1800 workers and there were only 5 invitations from the university. Receiving one of those 5 invitations, I enrolled to the School of Textile in the University of Science and Technology and studied in evening classes, while working as well.

-What is your business principle?

-Quality. Quality must be a priority in everything and everywhere.

-How did you come to start working in the Textile Institution after graduating, instead of continuing your work?

Well, sometimes when I look back and think about it, I feel like a “traitor”. Between 1999 and 2003, I studied in the university and worked at the factory at the same time. My company provided me with the opportunity to study; therefore I used to think I’d dedicate my knowledge and abilities for the factory.

Then, just before the graduation, our professors offered me to work at the Textile Institute. As I spoke my mind, they insisted on me working there for a short while. Right at that time, I had my annual leave from the factory, and decided to work at the Institute during my vacation. However, one day, the accountant called me to the office and handed me an appointment as a assistant researcher and my salary. So, it turned out that I couldn’t leave the Institute anymore. Quite a “traitor” I am, aren’t I?

For 17 years, I’d worked on various projects at the Institute and in 2007, I started teaching for university students, adult training centers, as well as providing consulting services to factories.

-Women’s Business center provides grant to those who graduated from Incubation program trainings for equipment. Which equipment did you buy with the grant?

Everyone received a grant for equipment after completing the Incubator program. I used the grant to buy a buttonhole machine for 4 million tugriks, a machine that I’ve been almost dreaming. We used to make buttonholes using an old machine with lots of additional handwork. Now it takes only 30 minutes to make buttonholes for 10 shirts, which used to take a whole day with the old machine. It really did increase our productivity greatly.

In addition to the investment to our factory, I’ve gained much more on a personal level, broadening my horizon of goals and ambition. At the beginning, I used to think that getting a loan would solve everything. But then I’ve come to realize that apart from getting a loan, one can make do with the opportunities in hand. It is much more important to understand one’s customers, build a team and maintain an effective communication. Looking back, the year 2017 was a fruitful one for me, in terms of personal and business achievements.

I’m always striving to turn the knowledge and experience I received from the Business Incubation Center into reality. The Women’s Business Center provided me with materials covering Basics of Marketing, Accounting and Organizational Psychology etc. I’m still reading and learning from them. I realize that my professional experience and technical knowledge are just some tiny parts of leading a business.

Managing and finding the key to a communication is important in leading a company. This month, we are conducting a health screening for all our employees. We’ve established cooperation with a private clinic for a yearly medical check-up with discount for our employees. It is our belief that people who are healthy and satisfied with their condition are able to work well.

-How did you resolve the very first investment?

-When I was a factory worker I used to collect old sewing machines, which were considered not fitted to the production. Working in public sector, I could not save money, let alone much for investment. I started my project with two knitting machines and increased its numbers one by one.

Seeing my old machines, some people get surprised and ask how it was still working and not in the museum. But I don’t undervalue old machines. In the university, we used them to teach students and many Mongolian textile factories started their production with machines like them.

Of course I want to buy new equipment and use new technologies. But some old machines are actually much more capable to do certain techniques compared to the new ones.

-How was your team when you first started, and how many employees do you have now?

-I was almost on my own. I started with receiving orders from companies. However, they refused to transfer the payment to a personal account. Back then, I didn’t know and care much about social responsibility, taxes and such. So I registered my own company with the help of my younger sister for paper works. Now our workshop has a team of eight.

-There are many textile workshops in Mongolia; maybe in relation to the availability of raw materials. What is the difference that set you apart from others?

Quality. I would and will say quality again and again. We try our best to make elegant and quality products. Working with sincerity is crucial in everything, be it sewing the collars and attaching the sleeves to the body.

Quality in terms of sewing starts with fitting the tightness and looseness of threads and materials. When sincerely made with quality, it should not be too tight nor too loose, but just right. I always tell my employees “Sew nicely, knit properly, do well” over and over again. Sometimes one gets disappointed or sensitive about criticism. In that case, I ask them how they would feel, if they were to buy some badly sewn, ugly clothing with the money they worked so hard to earn. I used to think that way since I’ve been a factory worker. Quality was always my priority.

Moreover, during my work on various projects, I had the opportunity to take part in quality assurances of big factories alongside my teachers. Now we try to implement the same quality standards on our workshop and products. Why should it be not possible for a small workshop to have high standards?

-What about sales? Do you have own brand store or sell your products mainly through online platforms?

We’ve been mainly selling through word-to-mouth sales. Our first customers recommended us to someone, and that someone bought from us and told someone else etc. The first two years went exactly like that, but it soon became stagnated.

We recently joined the Mongolian Chamber of Commerce and Industry as a member within the scope of WBC’s financial support. Also, we have some interns from the Business class of University of Agriculture. They contributed much to our marketing and business aspects, and I’ve learned a lot from them. Now we’re planning to try some new things in our marketing and sales strategy.

-Can you please share about your goals and objectives in the near future with us?

-Actually, we have an idea. But it’s not the time to talk about it yet. All I can tell is we’re targeting specific and foreign market with our new idea. We are still in the research and development stage. Hopefully we’ll have it ready around this time next year.

-Thank you and I wish you good luck.

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