Lost and Founded Series - Firas Alsuwaigh

Meet Firas Alsuwaigh, co-founder of Marcella - a custom apparel retailer that has taken Singapore by storm and is going global.


Author: DBS BusinessClass, Administrator of DBS

Firas Alsuwaigh, co-founder of custom apparel retailer Marcella, wants you to rethink customization. Marcella, which has since raked in sales of over 100,000 shirts and unveiled outlets in Singapore, New York and Melbourne, aims to offer customers the best of both worlds – that is, quality, customized shirts at a great price.The National University of Singapore law alumnus, who has leaped the great divide and successfully crossed-over into the business of tailor-made suave, is, in his own words, now just another guy trying his best to build something from the ground up. Besides revealing that startup life come with its fair share of ‘crap and sh**,' and letting slip that he's in dire need of a workout, Firas has also confessed that he harbours a hidden taste for ‘chick-flicks.' We observe that Firas is surprisingly bad at keeping secrets – and he wholeheartedly agrees.

People say you are"FirasAlsuwaigh, Co-founder of Marcella". Who do you say you are?

Just another guy trying my best to build something from the ground up.

Best moment in your startup life.It was so good you wanted to fly BusinessClass somewhere with someone, and pop open the most expensive bottle of champagne there.

There have been a few. Opening our first store in New York was pretty special but mostly my best moments have been pretty humbling - moving into our first proper office being right there with the best of moments. (we worked out of our local workshop for the longest time)

What secret did you hide from your co-founder or partner or parent for the longest time?Why?

I'm terrible at keeping secrets.

What's the most eccentric thing about you?If VCs found out, they won't have signed the term sheet then. But hell with that now.

I enjoy chick-flicks. Very much.

Have you ever cried?Or what was the lowest, crappiest moment in your start-up life.You wanted to give up everything. You wanted to kill someone. (During your startup career of course) Tell us more!

Suffice to say that there has been a fair share of crappy moments, though (thankfully) not to the point of making me want to give up (knock on wood). But it's just the way it is - choosing to embrace the start-up life includes embracing all the crap and sh** that comes with it. It's what makes the wins that much more special.

What are you up to today? What gets you up in the morning?

Running Marcella pretty much takes up all my time. We are pressing on with our international expansion, this time closer to home, and that's really exciting for us.

How do you keep yourself physically and mentally fit for start-up life?

I get a good dose of mental exercise running a start-up and it's no secret that it's a 24 hours job. So, I find it crucial to carve time out to relax and get my mind off work for a bit each day -- my excuse to watch an hour of TV each night before bed. And thanks for reminding me that I need to exercise.

Offer a life hack (or two) to a young founder.

Your team matters - there's nothing more important than working with the right people.

Movie or song that best describes you

Braveheart - my favourite movie of all time.

Favourite quote.

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.

Who and what inspires you?

My co-founders and my team.

Tell me about Firas Alsuwaigh in 2030.

It's hard to say, really. But I'll be pretty pleased to be lying on a beach somewhere working remotely on my laptop and clocking 4 hour work days.


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