Chalita Hongsakul and Ornwassa Siamseranee
MBA classmates Chalita ‘Pink’ Hongsakul and Ornwassa ‘Ob’ Siamseranee decided to quit their jobs as lucrative management consultants to become sportswear designers for their own label Wakingbee.
The idea for the brand was sparked when both partners, once busy office workers who would go to the gym in their free time, realized that there were very limited sportswear options for women in the city.
Neither Pink nor Ob have a background in fashion, but they made Wakingbee happen by focusing on what women need from their gymwear. “Fashion is something we can add in after working out function,” says Pink. “We want to create sportswear that makes women feel beautiful and confident. The name Wakingbee is inspired by the bee, which is a very active animal. We want our clothing to push women to live an active lifestyle.”
“We blend function with femininity,” Pink continues. “For example, in our 2016 spring/summer collection, we had our sport bras and leggings stamped with soft watercolor-inspired prints.”
Though launched only one and a half year ago, Wakingbee has broken into fast-fashion territory. “Our clients are now aware that people recognize if they wear the same outfit to the gym,” says Ob. “So now we work on six collections a year: three main collections with 20 designs each and three supplement collections with 10 designs each.”
Their next step is to get Wakingbee recognized not only in Thailand but in other countries in Asia as well. However, to produce high-quality sportswear in Thailand, they would need to use a factory that’s equipped to handle large-scale manufacturing. “Production is the most complicated process. Our brand is so small compared to other sportswear companies that we needed to gain the trust of a big factory,” explains Ob. “We got them to work with us by giving them flexibility in the working process. We give them space to flex their expertise and we open ourselves up to their opinions.”