GOBI’s branch store to launch in Los Angeles, the USA on September 16th. Accordingly, we interviewed Ariunaa.B, Director of Foreign Trade (the USA and Asia) of the GOBI.
GOBI will soon open its branch store in Los Angeles. Mongolian cashmere products somewhat entered the international market, especially, the American market. What are the special features of the soon-to-be-open store?
Gobi has been exporting its products to the USA for quite some time. But it was franchise sales. Now, we are going to open our official branch company in Los Angeles, on September 16th. This company will handle online shopping in South and North America. As the world market approach mostly focuses on online shopping, the activity of the branch company will solely focus on online shopping in the beginning.
Does that mean a customer anywhere in the USA can order GOBI products and get it delivered to their home?
Time is indeed valuable in the modern world and online shopping is growing rapidly worldwide. Nobody wants to waste on time going to the shops physically when there is an opportunity to buy stuff online. Especially in the case of America, the country with 51 states, the online shopping, and delivery system are well developed. Depending on when the customer wants to receive the product, the delivery cost varies and all arrangements are very easy. We will sell our products using this type of advanced online shopping services. GOBI products will be delivered to anywhere in the USA within 24 hours.
Online shopping is an unlimited market. How much growth is expected in the sales volume?
We aim to sell one million products through online shopping in the USA within one year. The numbers of products we previously sold in the USA are rather low and the USA was not our main big market before. Our main markets were Europe and Asia. Therefore, if we work hard starting from this September we believe we can reach our goal.
There was a question that if cashmere products will be able to sell in a warm-weather country like America?
When we think about cashmere, we imagine warm sweaters, hats, and scarves that we wear in winter. But that is a traditional and outdated concept. In general, cashmere consumption and global trends have been changing dramatically over the last decade. In the past, people used to think cashmere products were expensive and people, who were over 45 or who have quite a bit of income, buy cashmere. However, now cashmere products are, somewhat, included in collections of all brands from ‘fast fashion’ to luxurious and to high-end. This helps to change the concept of the cashmere products among consumers. Following the development pattern, cashmere products are not limited to traditional warm sweaters anymore. Today, the cashmere product options are variable from everyday wear to luxurious wears such as silky cashmere sweaters, not textile, but knitted shawls and suits made out of fine cashmere threads that we can wear in summer and fine coats, as well. Nowadays, people of all age can wear cashmere in any season under any circumstances.
Which product will fascinate the Americans the most? How did you identify the target groups?
Looking at the American and European consumerism, they are usually interested in woven products. Woven sweaters, accessories, and shawls, etc. Plus, the GOBI aims to become the No.1 producer of the 100% cashmere coats in the world. People imagine traditional heavy woolen coats when they think of coats. But cashmere coats are 2-3 times lighter than the traditional woolen coats and the cashmere coats are very warm. Even if you wear the coat on a naked body, it will not make you feel uncomfortable and inconvenient. We are planning to sell the sweaters along with the cashmere coats. As cashmere is very soft, making clothes of unisex and frees size is common with cashmere. We offer products that are comfortable and will fit any type of body. The USA is the No.1 market in the world. Brands from small size to the high-end, are interested to make it in the American market. The reason why we thought the USA was possible is that there are either only expensive Italian brand cashmere products in the market or cheap cashmere products that are sold in bulks. The research has shown that there is no cashmere company that produces affordable and quality products for middle-income people, who are interested. That is our main target. We plan to offer to the middle-income groups 100% cashmere products, which are made out of hand-sheared rare raw materials that are also luxurious and high quality.
Big markets like American obviously requires special attention on the fashion design?
Our main Mongolian fashion design team works on the company. In order to follow the world fashion trends and standard and learn from these, we work with Italian, German and Spanish designers on short term on a contract. We learn from them, as well. We regularly participate in fashion shows in Italy, where the world fashion trends are defined. There, we study the fashion trends and colors of the next collections. We, also, have some 60 franchised shops. We learn from and exchange ideas with the other brands that exist next to us.
Is GOBI becoming the first Mongolian company that solely focuses on online shopping in the world market?
Yes. There are no other Mongolian companies like us, as we studied. We made related research during the branch establishment period to find out if there are Mongolian companies that established a branch in the USA to exchange experiences. There was not a Mongolian company that officially established its branch, yet. Therefore, our company is special in the sense that we are the first. Although we are establishing the GOBI branch, we carry Mongolian cashmere and brand reputation behind us, which is very responsible work. If we set a successful foundation, we will create an opportunity for the other brands and factories that will follow our steps.
The USA is in the process of approving the Third Neighbor Trade Act for Mongolia. There is no doubt that this will help facilitate the cashmere sector. There is a criticism that the cashmere sector is a small matter to discuss?
Agricultural products, production, and export are of great importance to our country. In a related context, our sector’s officials presented this law to the USA and now they are working closely with the Congressmen, who initiated this law, as well. We put great importance to this and support the idea very much as we are the first company and main player in the sector. Let me state the facts about the reason why the agricultural sector is very important. Firstly, Mongolia has more than 800,000 households, of which some 220,000 are herder families. We live and work with the traditional animal husbandry whether we want it or not. There are negative talks about goats damaging the pastureland and we are suffering goats to take their cashmere. When studying the matter from the scientific perspective and talking with herders, goats do not damage the pastureland alone. From a different perspective, taking the cashmere out of the goats is actually a help to the goats. If not taking the cashmere out during the warm season, goats can develop scabies, become the target for the ticks and even have holes in their skin. Therefore, taking out the cashmere from the goats by hand is the traditional method to prevent from these, as well. This, in turn, becomes environmentally friendly production.
Shall we end our interview by giving information on how the agricultural sector benefits the economy and what are those benefits?
Another reason why we are specifying this sector is that the main developing sectors such as mining and construction are male-dominated. But on the other hand, this causes unemployment for women and single mothers and increase the demand for women to work. There are at least six people behind single mothers including children and parents. It is possible for our industry to be female-dominated. Our factory has 3000 employees, of which more than 75% of them are women. Accordingly, American congresswomen are putting great importance in this matter as well. One of the few sectors of Mongolia that that is capable of improving the women’s livelihood and increasing the women’s employment is our sector and this is why we are supported by the Trade Act as well. Also, I’d like to point out that exporting value-added products that are made in Mongolia than exporting large quantities of raw materials that could not make it to products, is a huge contribution to the economy.