Atziluth: Where the Light Begins

Atziluth: Where the Light Begins
Author: Xuanhao Yi

In the dynamic world of fashion, every brand has a story. Atziluth, a brand founded by Qiumo, stands out for its unique blend of mysticism and innovative design. Let's dive into the journey of Atziluth by this conversation, from its unexpected inception to its current success.

Xuanhao: Could you briefly tell us about the origin of the Atziluth brand and why you wanted to build a brand in the first place?

Qiumo: In fact, there was no original intention. It all began at the end of 2019 when my friend encouraged me to start a business. At that time, I was still working in a regular job. My friend came up with the idea of starting a business together and convinced me to join. Unfortunately, my friend's business plan eventually fell through, but I decided to stick with it. I found my job quite mundane and felt that many skills I had learned in school had not yet been applied. I always had the desire to create and express through my own designs. Therefore, at the end of 2019, I founded the Atziluth brand. Additionally, because the pandemic had just started, the lockdown period gave me a chance to calmly think about what else I could do. Once the lockdown ended, I put this plan into action. I didn't see starting a business during the pandemic as a particular challenge or difficulty. Entrepreneurship is always a challenge, regardless of the timing. You just need to have an idea and go for it.

Xuanhao: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and experience as a founder?

Qiumo: My educational background is that I graduated from the London campus of Marangoni, where I majored in fashion design.

Xuanhao: Okay, so did you start Atziluth right after graduation, or did you try something else first?

Qiumo: I've had a total of three jobs since graduation, but they were all very short-lived. My first job was with a newly established couture brand, but the boss's vision for the brand was quite immature. After just two months, I decided to leave.

My second job was as a designer for a Chinese Taobao streetwear fashion brand, but the daily work was just drawing design sketches. It was very monotonous and did not contribute much to my career growth or personal development. I realised it wasn't what I wanted, so I left.

The third job was with a shared wardrobe company, which was a brand new concept. This job was quite diverse; I was involved in tasks like making tables and analysing data. However, due to the company's financial issues, I had to leave. This experience did help train my logical thinking and market sensitivity.

Xuanhao: Looking back, these three jobs seem to have significantly contributed to your eventual success as an entrepreneur. Your first job at a startup required you to handle many miscellaneous tasks, learning and adapting as you went along. This is quite similar to the early stages of entrepreneurship, where you acquire essential skills. The second job, with its heavy focus on design sketches, familiarised you with commercial production processes and allowed you to directly and quickly engage with customers through the Taobao platform, giving you better market insight. Your third job's data handling aspects honed your logical thinking and taught you how to use data from one stage to inform decisions for the next, which was your first lesson in brand management from a data analysis perspective. Then, Has your overseas study experience helped in building a domestic brand, and have you encountered any difficulties in the process?

Qiumo: In my opinion, the content taught at my school focused on very practical techniques and crafts. The curriculum was designed to align with current trends in the clothing market, making these skills applicable in any market and industry, thus eliminating any issues with transitioning back to the domestic market after graduation. Secondly, my years of overseas study and life have cultivated my self-learning ability, enabling me to quickly solve problems encountered during the entrepreneurial process through self-learning. This experience also stimulated my creativity and strengthened my understanding of brands. I believe that a new brand in its initial stages will encounter all kinds of difficulties, which is very normal. Everything is difficult at the beginning. However, I approach everything step by step, focusing on doing things well rather than pursuing speed and quantity.

Xuanhao: Practicality is a very valuable quality. It's commendable that you haven't only pursued speed and money, completely ignoring the core of the brand and the quality of the individual products. It's great that you have stayed true to your initial vision. Can you tell us a little bit about the history and development stages of the Atziluth brand?

Qiumo: Hahaha, of course. In the early stages, I remember that my products in the first few seasons now look very immature. At that time, I was still exploring and experimenting, not yet knowing what kind of brand I wanted to create. It was a period of trial and error. Eventually, I found the style I was good at and determined the tone of the brand.

In the development stage, I participated in the Shanghai Fashion Week's Ontime Showroom twice, which is located at the West Coast Art Centre in Shanghai. The second time, I presented a long dress with plant dye that became a hit that season. The entire dress was dyed using a plant dyeing process, with the colour being manually sprayed using a watering can. This dress went viral online, significantly increasing the brand's recognition. It was during this stage that I realised the importance of online marketing.

Now, we are in a stable stage. Currently, Atziluth's main sales model relies on fashion boutiques, buyers, and retailers. I have about seven stockists, with two buyers that continue to cooperate regularly. There are also a few more buyers I'll be releasing to. However, with the brand's development, the sales model will definitely shift more towards our online official website and offline retail. This is also why I continually adjust and optimise my designs and products every quarter.

In terms of online marketing, we work with influencers like Cookie Sue, who has significant influence and a body shape similar to mine, which perfectly fits the clothes I design. The advertising results are excellent. Our team also includes a part-time PR professional who handles various promotions and collaborations. Each season, we select a dozen or so influencers and content creators that align with our style. Additionally, we maintain a strong presence across various platforms, including Little Red Book, Instagram, our brand's official website, and our official WeChat account.

In the future, I plan to diversify my designs and offer more styles to suit various occasions such as commuting, parties, and so on. I will always consider practicality; I hope my designs can remain staples in my customers' wardrobes and be worn often, as that is the greatest value of a dress.

Xuanhao: Did you have a target customer in mind when you first set up the brand? If so, does the current picture of the target customer group overlap with the original vision? Is there any difference?

Qiumo: Yes, I did have a target customer group in mind. The primary target was young women with slim figures, and this has proven to be quite accurate. The main customer groups are now internet celebrities and international students. Customers are generally between 20 and 30 years old. Some slightly more mature women also purchase items like suits. Additionally, many cosplayers and fans of Lolita fashion culture are attracted to my dresses.

Xuanhao: Let's talk about the brand concept that runs through all the collections. We also want to know more about the brand's identity and characteristics, how to distinguish it from other brands, and the reason behind the brand name.

Qiumo: The name Atziluth comes from the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, specifically from "Olam Atsiluth," which means "the World of Emanation." It is considered the highest of the four worlds in Kabbalah, representing a place close to God and the source of divine light. This reflects my view of Atziluth as a place where light is originally generated.

Xuanhao: So, essentially, it is a brand concept wrapped in a seemingly dark aesthetic but with a warm core?

Qiumo: Yes, exactly. I am an enthusiast of mysticism, and I often draw inspiration from it for my collections. Our brand's colour palette leans towards dark tones, and the style is inclined towards court and gothic elements. However, the themes for each season ultimately convey a warm concept. For instance, our latest collection, "Three Hares Motif," is inspired by the ancient motif of three hares sharing ears, which has appeared across the Eurasian continent. Its origins are unknown, representing a collective human subconscious and the interconnected fate of humanity. The central triangle formed by the three hares' ears symbolises eternal motion and the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.

This season's silhouettes blend different regional styles to depict a scene of peaceful coexistence, reflecting my hope for peace in these turbulent times. The next season's theme is butterflies, symbolising the connection between the living and the memory of deceased loved ones. Visually, our brand is also recognised for using long sleeves and extended button rows.

Our customer base is very young, but they will grow older. To continue engaging them, we may introduce product lines that better suit their age groups, making the designs more practical while retaining our core aesthetic.

Xuanhao: As a designer and manager, what do you think is your competitive brand? What are your advantages and disadvantages compared with similar competitors? Do you have any innovative strategies?

Qiumo: In fact, I think every brand is unique, with their own concepts and interesting ideas. I believe the advantage of our brand lies in our clear and innovative concept. Our clothing style is distinct and cohesive, which has earned us strong recognition in the market. However, we must admit that we are still in the development stage. Currently, I only have a plate maker to assist me, and the rest of the work is done by me alone. As the manager, I need to focus on building a stronger team, as the team's strength should surpass that of a single individual.

Additionally, our range of clothing types is not yet comprehensive, and we lack basic models and customized products. We need to create new and trendy items each year, which is both a challenge and an opportunity for us. These are issues we plan to address in the future, continuously evolving to meet market demands and stay ahead in the industry.

Xuanhao: We have learned that Atziluth will be launching a collaboration series with M.Wong. Why did you choose M.Wong to start this collaboration?

Qiumo: First of all, M.Wong is a leader in the field of jewellery. As both a brand manager and a consumer, I strongly resonate with the products and concepts of M.Wong. Additionally, I felt that our current products lacked metal accessories, particularly in clothing.

This collaboration idea began during last year's Shanghai Fashion Week when I had a casual conversation with Miya, the founder and designer of M.Wong, at the same showroom. I mentioned that one of the standout features of my brand is the long rows of buttons, and Miya happened to have an interest in creating silver buttons. We immediately clicked on this idea.

Starting from buttons, our creative synergy quickly expanded beyond that, envisioning various metal accessories for clothing. This is my first collaboration series, and I am very excited about it. Moving forward, I remain open to more collaborations, hoping to spark different inspirations with various partners. Through this collaboration with M.Wong, we aim to enrich our product line, create unique and innovative items, and bring fresh and distinctive products to our consumers.

 

Atziluth's journey is a testament to the power of perseverance, creativity, and adaptability. Qiumo's dedication to her craft and her willingness to embrace challenges have positioned Atziluth as a distinctive brand in the fashion industry. As the brand continues to grow and evolve, it promises to bring even more innovative and unique designs to its audience, staying true to its mystical yet warm core.

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