Wasna Roongsaenthong and her husband Vassilios Lathouras launched NaRaYa in Bangkok in 1993. The couple built the business from scratch, starting out with less than 20 sewing machines and 20 employees to make the products and accessories, which they sold out of a 20 square meter booth.
Fast forward 29 years and NaRaYa now owns 4 factories in Thailand, with over 2,500 employees and a network of more than 4,000 makers. The open source manufacturing model is one of the unique features of the business – comprised of farmers, day workers, and elderly family members, this network that is based in the countryside is responsible for producing half of NaRaYa’s volume. In addition to a female founder, women make up the backbone of the company, with 71 percent of their direct workforce and 90 percent of their maker partners comprised of women.
Global markets are extremely important to NaRaYa. While international sales currently make up roughly 20 percent of their overall business, the team is looking to focus their efforts on expanding to new markets and growing that portion of the business. “China has the biggest potential for growth this year,” explained Hartel, adding that Korea, Japan, and the United States are also of great importance to NaRaYa.
“Online is the first step to getting access [to global markets],” emphasized Hartel. The growing business is constantly looking at new tools they can incorporate into their operations in order to simplify their processes and connect with customers and partners more effectively. Traditional cloud-based messaging tools have become essential platforms for document sharing and project management as well – where employees can share photos and contacts, provide updates and communicate in real time about projects and events.
“Everyone’s connected now,” highlighted Hartel who advises entrepreneurs who are thinking about taking their business global to “leverage technology.”