Disclaimer: In Real Life is a platform for everyday people to share their experiences and voices. All articles are personal stories and do not necessarily echo the sentiments of In Real Life. It\u2019s no secret that large retailers are struggling to pivot during the lockdown, with many like Robinsons closing down or announcing huge losses.\u00a0 But there is opportunity in disaster. Smaller online stores, like Lazii Vintage, are popping up to meet local demand. Young enterprising couple Angeline and Alvin took the leap of faith and opened their online store in August 2020. Three months on, here\u2019s what they learnt so far. Angeline (21) and Alvin (21), founders of Lazii Vintage One day, Angeline asked Alvin: \u201cDo you want to sell secondhand clothes for a living?\u201d Angeline is a business student from Monash, and Alvin is a digital media student from One Academy. They met in 2018 through mutual friends at a Chinese New Year open house.\u00a0 During the lockdown period, Angeline taught herself how to sew. She started thinking, \u201cHow can I make money from what I love? How can I sell my art in a sustainable way?\u201d That\u2019s when she had the eureka moment of selling secondhand clothes to people who are in the practice of \u2018thrifting\u2019. Thrifting refers to the act of shopping at a thrift store, flea market, garage sale, or a shop of a charitable organization, usually with the intent of finding interesting items at a low price.\u00a0 People say, \u201cWhy would anyone consider buying a second hand item?\u201d So Alvin told me how the fast fashion industry is a huge contributor towards climate change.\u00a0 To top that off, virtually all large brands like H&M, Nike and Burberry burn their unsold clothes rather than repurpose them to maintain the illusion of scarcity. As time went by, Alvin and Angeline started to gain more knowledge about sustainable fashion, and fell in love with the lifestyle too. How they make the clothes from start to end product \u201cWe usually go to second hand stores and handpick the clothing that matches our store's aesthetic. Then we rework them before selling it,\u201d Angeline shared.\u00a0 Angeline reworks and sews the clothes, while Alvin produces the digital designs.\u00a0 Opening up their business was a struggle in the beginning. Having no idea which demographic to market to or access to market research, they fell back on classic trial and error.\u00a0 \u201cIt was only after we made various stylistic choices to the fabric that we started to get an idea of what people liked. Some were hot selling and some were not, so we tweaked our offerings based on that feedback.\u201d\u00a0 Since the thrifted clothes are reworked by hand, each one has a unique design.\u00a0 \u201cI think that is what\u2019s fun about the concept of thrifting in general. When you find something, you know no one has the exact same outfit as you,\u201d Angeline disclosed.\u00a0 After two months of running the business, they hit a plateau and had no business growth. So the two lovebirds put their heads together and brainstormed and pivoted on their marketing strategy.\u00a0 \u201cWe went from posting once a week to 3-5 times everyday. The more our followers saw our designs, the more they were reminded to buy from us,\u201d Angeline shared. The unique challenges Angeline and Alvin faced \u201cThere have been times when we had disagreements with each other. It was hard to find a work-life balance, our business life was taking over our own personal lives, and I could not cope with balancing studies and working,\u201d Alvin shares.\u00a0 \u201cOne time, the needle went clean through my finger and I had to be rushed to the clinic to get stitches. While it was healing, it happened again! On the same finger, and in the same spot! I was so mad,\u201d Angelina laughed. Angeline is the type of person who wants to solve problems immediately. So her solution to this problem was to have a discussion with Alvin to set their priorities. \u201cFirst were his academics, then business, followed by his hobbies only if there\u2019s spare time.\u201d\u00a0\u00a0 \u201cOwning a business will have good days and bad days. For the bad days, you need to be mentally strong and positive as your energy comes off to your customers,\u201d said Angeline. \u201cDuring our rainy days, I have to remind myself that I have to make it work, it's my life now so I just have to pick myself up. I am also lucky that I have Angeline to encourage me,\u201d Alvin says. Over time, the business has grown.\u00a0 The Lazii VIntage website. IG handle: lazii.vintage. \u201cStarting out, we used Instagram DMs. Now that we get a lot of orders, it\u2019s so hard to handle in a short span of time. So we opened up a website in October 2020.\u201d\u00a0\u00a0 They try to create strong bonds with their customers. \u201cWe always interact with them very carefully and closely to give a personal touch,\u201d Alvin shared. Now, their orders have grown by 32%. By the start of December 2020, they\u2019ll open their own physical store.\u00a0 \u201cWe never expected it to pick up as it has right now.\u201d said Alvin.\u00a0 Angeline and Alvin have planned it to be a studio, or maybe a boutique. They will start seeing customers on an appointment basis -- or maybe just a few walk-ins. \u201cOur room is so messy with hundreds of items of clothing that are just waiting to be released.\u201d Angeline quipped. Both students dropped out of uni to focus 100% on their boutique. \u201cI discontinued my studies in Australia so that I can focus on this full-time.\u201d shared Angeline. \u201cSame here,\u201d Alvin nodded. \u201cI am dropping out of university so that I can put my 100% into this.\u201d Luckily, Alvin has understanding parents that are fully supportive of his plan. \u201cI explained to them my \u201cwhy\u201d and I convinced them that I will work on this no matter what.\u201d \u201cAlthough it\u2019s important to get a formal education, people tend to stay in their comfort zone after getting the certificate. When you are in your safe zone, you tend not to grow,\u201d Alvin said.\u00a0 Angeline\u2019s parents had differing reactions to her decision. \u201cMy father was very supportive but my mother is always fretting about our futures. Lately she has been coming around, though.\u201d In future, they hope to expand their business internationally to Singapore and Brunei.\u00a0 \u201cOur goal is to inspire more people to contribute to sustainable fashion instead of fast fashion. They are usually the same, great quality.\u201d Angeline shared.. They want this way to motivate people to do their own part in saving the environment.\u201d Alvin said.\u00a0 What advice would you give people who want to open their own business?\u00a0 \u201cThink to yourself: "Can I see myself doing this after 5 years?" Alvin resumed, \u201cOpen what you want to do and this will keep the passion burning despite the downfalls.\u201d Angeline said she would tell them how hard and prepared you have to be to open your own business.\u00a0 \u201cYou have to realise you are going to be doing everything. All the hardships you have to endure, you must endure it professionally. Do your research. Even if you feel like you are thinking really far ahead, think further than that,\u201d Angeline concluded. For more stories like this, read:How to Adapt Your Business to a Post-Pandemic World in 2020 \u2014 With Azran Osman-Rani and Malaysian Confessions \u2014 Why Are Some People Driven To Become Entrepreneurs? If you like what you read, follow us on\u00a0Facebook,\u00a0Instagram Got a story to share? Send it in to firstname.lastname@example.org and you may be featured on In Real Life!