In today’s highly competitive and demanding world, having children is a life changing event for all parents. But for young women especially, giving birth is a dramatically transformative experience that not only affects their personal growth but also their career and future prospects. So when Uyanga Amarsaikhan, a banking professional in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, found herself at home looking after her first child, she realised she did not want her professional ambitions to lapse.
“Stress from giving birth combined with the pressures of social media takes a significant toll on women’s mental health. I simply could not sit around, confined at home. So I began exploring business ventures that could be managed from home,” says Uyanga, explaining the genesis of her children’s clothing brand, ‘UR.mine’, which translates from the Mongolian ‘Үр Минь’ to ‘My Baby’.
With advisory services provided by the EBRD and funded by the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), Uyanga has propelled her start-up into a thriving business that not only addresses the challenges new mothers face, but also creates employment opportunities for them.
Opportunity in disguise
As Uyanga’s newborn grew into a healthy infant, finding suitable baby clothes became a constant challenge: quality materials, affordable prices and a good selection were never available at the same time on the Mongolian baby clothing market. So Uyanga sought to solve this, setting up a production facility in Mongolia and establishing her company in 2017. With slogans on products that translate to endearing phrases such as ‘Boss of the household’ and ‘Beloved by mummy and daddy’, UR.mine’s first batch became a hit.
Uyanga’s second success came two years later, when she impressed investors on the Mongolian adaptation of Dragon’s Den and gained 71 million MNT (approx. €22,000) in funding, allowing her to establish a partnership with an organic cotton producer in Guangzhou, China, and launch the first official UR.mine brand store in the capital city of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar. Fast-forward to 2022 and Uyanga provides employment to 18 stay-at-home mothers and sells her merchandise through 7 domestic brand stores and 4 distributors internationally.
Room for further growth
Although UR.mine enjoyed considerable success, Uyanga knew that she needed professional assistance in order to improve her company’s business processes and ensure the business’s strong performance in the future.
“With other competing brands entering and growing in the baby clothes market, we started losing out on contracts and orders from our customers. We desperately needed professional guidance in brand management to make the business sustainable,” explains Uyanga.
This was when she learned of the EBRD’s Women in Business Programme, which aims to promote women’s participation in business with advisory assistance specifically optimised for the needs of women entrepreneurs.
Under the programme, UR.mine received professional services from BrandArte Consulting Agency, which helped UR.mine relaunch under a new and exciting brand identity empahsising material quality, comfort, design and price. In a short time, this bold campaign increased the brand’s visibility in a market ripe with competition.
“The advisory project had a deep impact on customer perception and retention. This joint action gave our company and our employees the push we desperately needed to get ahead of the competition. We now have more customers than we have ever had before,” notes Uyanga.
An international future
Now, firmly rooted in the Mongolian market, UR.mine is keen to explore tailor-made baby clothing opportunities for Mongolians living in Japan and the United States. Furthermore, the revival of a cashmere collection under the advisory project has nurtured fresh demand among parents for soft and warm winter protection for their newborns.
“Since the relaunch, our monthly sales have tripled. We are planning to export cashmere products by 2023,” notes Uyanga, providing a glimpse of the UR.mine brand’s future. “As the first ever children’s clothing brand using organic materials in Mongolia, we have an abundance of capacity for growth. But without the EBRD’s support, none of our aspirations could have been realised.”