Considered some of the finest fabrics in history, cashmere and Merino wool have attained near-mythical status for their lightness and comfort. These exotic materials can only be obtained from specially bred goats and sheep and the effort it takes to raise these animals, plus the sheer demand for these materials, means that cashmere and Merino wool accessories command premium prices. For example, a cashmere shawl from Hermès or Loro Piana will set you back US$1,304 (S$1,750) or more. Seeing an opportunity to bring these products to the masses, Donald Siegel founded Mogol International, a company specialising in featherlight shawls made of 100% Grade A cashmere and Merino wool, manufactured in Mongolia, and sold at a fraction of the prices charged by big fashion houses.
Arriving on Singapore’s sunny shores in the early-1970s, Siegel saw a land of opportunity. Over the years he has operated several businesses in Singapore. Before launching Mogol he ran Turning Point Concepts Pte Ltd which organised international seminars for spa industry professionals. Through these seminars, he got to know an American anthropologist who ran adventure tours in Mongolia. In 2009, she invited him to come on a family horse trek through central Mongolia. While there, the harsh beauty of Genghis Khan’s homeland sunk its claws into his heart.
Falling in love with Mongolia, Siegel made many trips back to the country and eventually started various businesses there. During his travels, he came to know about one of Mongolia’s most important industries: cashmere growing and manufacturing. Much of the world’s Grade A cashmere is produced in Mongolia and it is the nation’s most important export behind gold and copper. Throughout his time in Mongolia, Siegel came to know more about the industry and developed a relationship with its top manufacturers. Through these relationships, he learnt that there was a demand for premium quality cashmere and wool accessories, which were selling at exhorbitant prices in the market place. If one could bring the same quality products to market at lower prices, this would be a fantastic business opportunity.
Mogol was thus conceived to meet this demand, specialising in featherlight shawls made with either 100% Mongolian cashmere or 100% Merino wool imported into Mongolia from Australia. Ironically, the idea to focus on shawls came to Siegel, not on the frigid steppes of Mongolia, but in the tropical urban jungles of Singapore. The climate in Singapore is hot and humid throughout the year and so most indoor locations crank the air conditioning to compensate, resulting in uncomfortably chilly offices, restaurants, and shopping malls.
In such situations, Mogol featherlight shawls are a perfect accessory. At only 50 grams, they are fine enough to fit in a purse or bag, and cosy enough for use in chilly or drafty situations. Mogol manufactures the shawls in Mongolia and designs them in classic colours, making them suitable for casual and casual-dress events in any climate or season. Mogol’s featherlight shawls are best summarised by the Company’s tagline, “a cool way to beat the chill.”
Before launching Mogol, it was important to Siegel that he select the right supplier to do business with. There were two main considerations when choosing suppliers. The specialised machinery needed to create the fine weave in featherlight shawls, and the limited number of Mongolian manufacturers with this capability. Based on these factors, he sought out suppliers based on their quality standard, consistency, reliability, and ease of communication.
Because the techniques used to produce finely woven fabrics posed challenges to sustainability, it was important to Siegel that the chosen manufacturer practiced environmental responsibility and followed the Mongolian government’s strict protocols on waste disposal to reduce any environmental impacts. Ethical treatment of animals was also a concern. Mongolian herders raise their livestock according to traditional Buddhist and Shamanist beliefs which advocates respect for the environment and all forms of life.
Having found the right supplier, Mogol was launched as an online retailer, offering brand-to-consumer (B2C) and brand-to-business (B2B) services. Payment is fast and secure using Paypal or Braintree on their website, and the featherlight shawls are shipped to customers globally in attractive gift sets with a guarantee of quality and a 14-day return policy should any of the items be damaged or different from what was ordered. Mogol also supplies bulk orders of shawls in either promoted or customer-specified sizes and colours.
Apart from its specialisation in luxurious featherlight shawls, another thing that sets Mogol apart from other brands is its Private Label service, meaning manufacturing and supplying shawls under a customer’s brand name. The service is targeted mainly at retailers, hotels and resorts.
The relatively low prices of Mogol’s featherlight shawls is also one of the brand’s selling points. By keeping production in Mongolia, Siegel was able to cut down on manufacturing costs and offer them at affordable prices despite the premium fabrics used.
As a relatively new business, Mogol’s future remains to be seen. When asked about what’s next for Mogol, Siegel remarked, “We’re just getting started.”
Mogol’s main focus at this point is on selling its featherlight shawls through online B2C and wholesale B2B, and then building Mogol into a sizeable B2B business. Apart from shawls, Mogol is also in a position to cooridinate the manufacture of loungewear in cashmere as well as mixed yarns, made according to customer designs and specifications.
We will be watching Mogol’s fleece-lined journey from here on out with great interest, and trust us, you should too.
To find out more about Mogol International and their featherlight shawls, head over to their website using the link below: