Imran Sheik (Exclusive Interview): First-Ever Virtual Styling App In Malaysia

Being an entrepreneur is no easy task, it requires great determination and hard work. Lots of people aspire to own a business themselves and succeed, but not many are able to do so. 

Imran Sheik's portrait
Source : @imranbsheik on Instagram

After successfully operating two restaurants, he decided to challenge himself and take on another route to expand his business legacy. 

Meet Imran Sheik, the founder behind a virtual styling app called Ombre. In 2016, he became the CEO of Ombre which is a business-to-consumer (B2C) styling app. However, his main focus on the app now is to grow it and make it a business-to-business (B2B) type of service. 

In the interview session, I was also joined by their Chief Marketing Officer, Fildzah Zulkifli, who joined the company late last year and whose focal point is to manage a B2B styling plugin. 

The Idea Behind Ombre

Virtual styling app by Imran Sheik
Source : Lucaspeebo on Twitter

When he was only working as a fashion consultant at Topman, Imran started to notice a huge issue among the customers.

“I saw there was a common problem where people do not know how to match or buy clothes based on their body shapes, height and even skin tone.”

From then onwards, he was motivated to create a service to help these people by digitizing it as a software whereby anyone can use it from anywhere and not just the privileged who may afford to hire a stylist to help them.  

Imran Sheik's app Ombre
Choices on Ombre by Imran Sheik
Screenshots from the app Ombre

In Between Two Worlds

Besides being the brains of the app Ombre, he is also simultaneously running two very famous restaurants that are a hit among Malaysians. Located in Subang Jaya, Jibril serves varieties of comfort food such as the renowned Salted Egg Butter Series menu favoured by the locals.

Jibril by Imran Sheik
Source : jibrilss15.com

Whereas in Mona, its’ idea revolves around a retro perspective type of eatery. With all the dainty pieces of decoration, it exudes an 80’s style of classy and sophisticated atmosphere for the guests. 

When asked about the obstacles he faced in juggling these 3 businesses, Imran stated that upon creating Ombre he is aware it is a completely different domain than his restaurants since it is a tech startup company.

In order for him to focus on Ombre, he sought help by hiring full-time operational managers in Jibril and Mona. Predominantly, during MCO whenever problems came about, he relies completely on his creative consultant to manage the issues. 

Mona by Imran Sheik
Source : EatDrinkKL

Aspiration

From Imran’s point of view, to begin with, the creation of a styling app is to make fashion more accessible to the market.

As of today, one can see that sometimes being fashionable is only noticeable within the advantaged individuals where they have access to fashion stylists to help them with their physical appearance. 

I had the opportunity to acknowledge a snippet of how fashionable Imran can be and he told me that although he is quite stylish, but not to the extravagant sort of a person, rather, he is more comfortable with a standard day-to-day basis style. 

Founder of Jibril's Instagram
Source : imranbsheik on Instagram

These days, it is no shocker to see someone venture in any sort of business. Especially for the younger generation that would like to have a stable side income for themselves.

“In order to do so, it is important for youths to acquire basic business skills,” said Imran. Even so, this knowledge is not only applicable to business owners because it also applies to regular consumers.

As a consumer, it will help us to make better decisions in purchasing goods or services. Hence, why even as a mere customer we too must have strong consciousness with our purchases. 

Furthermore, Imran also pointed out that to join the bandwagon of being a successful entrepreneur, it is not a necessity to master every aspect of being one, just enough to understand the basics for those are the main roots you want to hang on to.

However, having some form of a safety net is also crucial for a startup to help sustain their business in the beginning to avoid financial strains.

Stumbling Block

“Having set forth into a tech startup after handling an F&B line of work, the few reasons why it is complex to launch Ombre is due to it being an AI software,” said Imran.

He further elaborated how hard it is to market his new styling app due to its demand of needing a lot of manpower and also recruiting business people to join forces with and most importantly, the funding needed to help establish Ombre.

That said, the problems encountered may vary and as Imran highlights, the software has a multitude of problems to tackle. 

Foreseeing The Future

Intrigued with what Imran was planning to take on next, I asked him what exciting things he has his eyes on. In response, he just smiled, saying it would be a big spoiler if he had told me. But, he did mention that it has something in relation to film production.

After the success of his political thriller film Daulat, which was released in April 2020, and a television drama Jibril, in October 2018, it is no surprise Imran will continue to produce top tier films again.

Daulat and Jibril are both available for viewing in Iflix and Viu respectively. 

Some Words Of Advice

Some major pointers that Imran shared in regards to starting up a business of our own, is to have a deep interest and be passionate with the business of your choice, even if it does not guarantee immediate success. He mentions that it’s important to make you strive harder.

“Profit alone won’t sustain you emotionally and spiritually”

Imran Sheik

Furthermore, you must find the right team to support your journey and business. In order to assemble an ideal team, you must first recruit diversely skilled individuals that complement each other’s skills set so that the overall business outlook is diverse, especially if you are eager to start a business with your close friends. 

All in all, it was a great experience to sit down and have a talk with an entrepreneur like Imran Sheik and try to understand the glimpse behind his successful journey, not only as a businessman but also as someone who has worked in film production.

If you are keen to stay updated with his journey and want to be the first to receive news about his upcoming film production project, do follow Imran here on Instagram

To download the app click in the link below :
IOS – https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/ombr%C3%A9-your-fashion-stylist/id1292156749
Android – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.lacunalabs.ombre&hl=en

Ainarissa Nasir
Ainarissa Nasir
aspiring writer.

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