Often people consider business disruption as solely relating to digital technology, but according to the owner of one leading family-run company, business disruption has a wider meaning.

In the last couple of years, there has been a lot of discussion about disruption in industry. Normally, this has focused on disruption caused by digital media. However, in reality these disruptions vary from industry to industry and might take different paths across multiple industries.

Boonyanuch Wittayasamrit, is the owner of handmade leather handbag brand 31 Thanwa that has occupied woman’s hearts for the past six years.

She believes that conceiving business disruption as simply a digital problem is upside-down thinking.

“In my view, disruption starts from adapting what we already have, finding ways to add value to what exists and then use digital media to support this,” she says. “It does not need to focus only on digital or something alone, as long as it helps make your business recognised by your customers and grow sustainably.”

She believes that a new SME which understands its market clearly has a distinct advantage on potential competitors. Another key to success, especially in the fashion industry, is being unique.

“As the world is changing, modern lifestyle needs to show identity; uniqueness is the key of today’s fashion business,” she says. “OEM is not the only solution for our family business. We are lucky that we know ourselves very clearly and we have positioned ourselves sharply.”

Wittayasamrit’s family has made handmade leather shoes for more than 70 years, since her grandfather’s generation.

“Our family has the knowledge of making shoes that is passed on from generation to generation, especially in the pattern of shoes.”

However, as the market evolved, Wittayasamrit believed that the family-run business needed to adapt to flourish, hence she developed the distinctive 31 Thanwa handbags.

As shoemaking has been imbued in her family for generations, Wittayasamrit decided to incorporate this in the branding of her bags, thus creating a unique and recognisable brand. After that she used digital channels to help expand her brand story.

“We know we have very strong craftsmanship in shoemaking so we have built our bag brand by incorporating a shoe pattern on our bags as our signature,” she says. “This is what our customers love.”

Words by Natthinee Ratanaprasidhi