When the going gets tough, Amalia gets going

Dresses with various patterns are also available.

Some small business owners are staying afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic by adapting themselves and innovating their products in alignment with the current circumstances. Read how online boutique owner Amalia Afifiyati Iman Sholeh manages to do so.

The Covid-19 pandemic and its associated restrictions have left few economic sectors untouched, negatively impacting almost every industry including tourism, entertainment, food and beverage, and so on.

Among the segments which have been hit hard by the ongoing pandemic is the retail sector.

Amalia

Businesses and retail outlets have had to adapt to the current standard operating procedures (SOPs) put into place according to the ever-changing Covid-19 situation.

This includes complying with the guidelines on reduced opening hours or even temporary closure for weeks at a time, especially if they are deemed non-essential.

For some businesses, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the financial strain during this volatile period proved too much to bear and they had little choice but to close down.

Nevertheless, some small business owners have managed to stay afloat by adapting themselves and innovating the products they offer, in alignment with the current circumstances.

One such example is Amalia Afifiyati Iman Sholeh, 28, who owns Rayya Rue — an affordable purse-friendly clothing and accessories online boutique which has been in operation since 2013.

She said that her main struggle now is pushing sales.

“It is quite difficult to get sales every day. This is because the nature of my business is non-essential — it is not what people need and have to buy every day.

But thank goodness, everything is still fine,” she told New Sarawak Tribune.

She said to maintain her business during the Covid-19 pandemic, she had minimised her stock intake to 50 percent of what she would usually have prior to the pandemic.

“Stock intake control is important to avoid holding stock for too long and not getting any sales,” she explained.

She has also adapted by taking in more stock of items which her customers demand, such as mask chains, which have become a popular item during this Covid-19 era.

A mask chain is clipped onto a face mask and worn like a necklace to provide convenience for the user. The user can simply wear their mask around their neck when it is not in use, rather than placing it on potentially unclean surfaces or holding it in their hand.

“So instead of selling only earrings and dresses, I have added in fashionable mask chains for both adults and children in order to boost my sales,” said Amalia.

She said that only online orders are available for now.

“To avoid risk, I only do self-pickup by preparing a collection box outside my house. I also prefer online payment methods just to avoid any risk as much as possible,” she said.

She said she relied mostly on her regular customers, pointing out that these customers were active on Rayya Rue’s social media pages.

“They know my products in terms of what I sell and the quality,” she remarked.

She said she also had access to new customers through her loyal customer base, as they would share and tag Rayya Rue in their photos posted online and new customers could then find her online store.

“To me, these regular customers are superstars! Without them, my small business is nothing,” she said gratefully.

At the same time, she believed the government had been helping many small businesses by providing funds and grants.

Amalia said her business had also received some assistance from the government last year, which helped her in raising some capital for her business.

“I just hope the government would help those who do not have a business license by giving out some small funds to help them to start their business. I am sure they would like some help too,” she said.

Noting that everyone in this sector is going through similar struggles, she urged other boutique and small business owners not to give up.

“Try to boost your posts in every social media platform there is. With mine, I only have Facebook and Instagram.

“There is also Tik Tok, which I need to figure out how to use because the audience and potential new customers there are wider than Facebook or Instagram,” she said.

Once the Covid-19 pandemic is over, Amalia hopes to continue on to her next step of opening up a booth or pop-up store, as well as join in on market events as she did before the pandemic.

Rayya Rue can be found on Facebook and Instagram (@rayyarue).