Twenty3 began as an apparel reseller, but Sherlyn Tan, the CEO and founder of the label, soon realised she could not solely rely on sourced goods and with that, began designing her own collections.

Taking cue from her growing number of fans following her online photo diary, she left her job as a business development director to pursue her dream of being an entrepreneur.

“I had a penchant for 1980s-style boat neck dresses and flare skirts, and that was what I initially focused on,” Tan said of her start adding, “My philosophy is to never sell what I wouldn’t personally wear, and at that time, I was very much into that classic girl-next-door aesthetic.”

With that in mind as the core of Twenty3’s offerings, Tan expanded with a signature line called Sher by Twenty3, which showed at the recent Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week 2015.

The collection was a hit as it captured the spirit of empowerment, personifying strength and confidence through sharp, structured career wear as well as sportswear-inspired designs.

twenty3

Sher by Twenty3

Tan revealed that the line was also inspired by her startup trials – she shared that her greatest challenge was cash flow.

Beginning with RM5,000, the Penangite says that much of that money was initially wasted on bad website designs and defective stocks. Also, being a new small startup in a highly competitive industry saw few that were willing to fund her cause.

“It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to roll that initial outlay to hit RM3.6mil in sales in just two years.”

The collection called Derecho (“straight” in Spanish), also describes a linear storm cloud that may appear unassuming and ethereal at first glance, but packs the force of a tornado.

“It’s an interpretation of my triumph over depression earlier this year, during which I embarked on a journey to discover the ‘Sher’ persona within me,” Tan shared.

Armed with her fighting attitude to succeed, Tan says that her vision is to cultivate a stable of young, hungry fashion designers and help them combine their talent with business acumen.

“Many designers focus too heavily on the creative aspect and ignore how to sell. We want to help change that. There’s so much talent that doesn’t reach the market because it’s not marketed well. I hope to be able to help raise local talent to the international stage,” she concluded.

The label can be found online at www.twenty3.my and at its retail store in the Klang Valley.