Meet Zhang Caihong: How she left school at 15 and built a business selling plus-sized clothes

Meet Zhang Caihong: How she left school at 15 and built a business selling plus-sized clothes

Staff Writer
Staff Writer
Pinduoduo Content Team
March 5, 2020

In the lead up to International Women’s Day on March 8, we celebrate success stories of women on Pinduoduo (PDD).

Name: Zhang Caihong

Age: 30

Occupation: Retailer of womenswear

Annual sales: RMB2 million ($287,000)

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Zhang Caihong, 30, runs a successful womenswear business selling plus-size clothes for mostly petite Chinese women on PDD’s e-commerce platform. Her company, Nuren Diguo, which translates into “Women’s Empire”, currently records annual sales of 2 million yuan(US$287,000).

Like many of the female merchants on PDD, Zhang (her first name Caihong means “rainbow” in English) is an entrepreneur who succeeded against all personal odds to emerge a winner online. In her case, lady luck supported her plus-size apparels at a time when oversized clothing was becoming a fashion trend worldwide.

Born in Pingdingshan in the populous Henan province, Zhang struggled a lot financially before turning entrepreneur.

She left school at 15 to work and contribute to her family expenses, but with no high school diploma, her choices of employment were limited with plenty hardships.

She worked at a fish market that left her with frostbites from having to repeatedly sink her hands into freezing water to handle seafood.

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A listing from Zhang's store.

In 2006, she later moved to a job at an electronics factory in Guangdong province, where she worked 15-hour shifts for a paltry sum of 330 yuan ($47) a month. Unfortunately for her, the factory relocated overseas and with it went her job.

Unemployed, she decided to use her last remaining savings to enroll in a computer class.

“I felt that I had to have skills to feed myself and raise my competitiveness, make myself more indispensable,” she said.

She worked hard in class, well enough to eventually become an instructor. Armed with a new circle of contacts and newfound confidence, she went to work in another factory, where she was promoted to quality control supervisor after two years. Her monthly salary rose to 7,000 yuan ($1000).

Zhang first heard of Pinduoduo from her friends while having supper after work. A good friend had done well selling clothes on PDD’s e-commerce platform and suggested Zhang give it a try too.

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Products from Zhang's suppliers being prepped.

And so, her online entrepreneurial adventure began in early 2018.

Luckily for Zhang, the setup costs were low and she was able to open an online store on the PDD platform in no time. She was surprised to receive her first order within two weeks. Managing the store in between her factory shifts wasn’t easy but Zhang learned quickly from other more successful merchants online, who were happy to share their best practices. She was soon receiving 20–30 orders a day.

Thereafter, Zhang finally decided to quit her job and plunge into e-commerce full-time. The attention and dedication paid off, and the number of orders increased to 100–200 a day and soon surpassed 300,000 yuan($43,254) in monthly sales.

Soon, she built a team and made strategic decisions that led to more online stores on PDD. She also built long-term partnerships with two factories, ensuring a steady supply for her business.

“In this world, luck and opportunity can come at you continuously,” Zhang says. “When the opportunity lands, you have to be in the position to seize it.”