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Two College Entrepreneurs Dress for Success

Blank Label founders Fan Bi and Danny Wong have made more than $350,000 in their first year.

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This story appears in the April 2011 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »
If the shirt fits: E-tailers Fan Bi and Danny Wong.
If the shirt fits: E-tailers Fan Bi and Danny Wong.
Photo © David Lang

For thousands of Shanghai residents, shopping the city's fabric markets represents little more than an errand. But for Fan Bi, a 23-year-old native of Sydney, Australia, a visit during the summer of 2008 represented both a consumer epiphany and an entrepreneurial milestone.

The founder and "chief shirt" of apparel company Blank Label was vacationing between semesters at the University of New South Wales when he first discovered the vast difference between shopping by size for a pre-made garment and shopping by fabric for a custom-made garment.

"I used to buy dress shirts off the rack in Sydney," Bi says. "But this idea of going to a fabric market, being measured, being able to choose different fabrics … I thought, 'Wow, you know, this is a really different experience.'"

Not only was it a superior experience and product, Bi says, but it was also far less expensive than purchasing shirts of similar quality in stores--an advantage that led him to consider college students, a demographic urgently in need of dress shirts and suits upon graduation, but just as desperately in need of savings.

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