Meet Three Women Changing The Face Of Business In Singapore cynthia
(Photo: Courtesy of Spa Esprit)

The Lifestyle Guru
Cynthia Chua, 45, Founder and CEO of Spa Esprit Group

Cynthia Chua has her fingers in many pies – not that that’s a bad thing. A household name in the Republic, the savvy entrepreneur founded the first Spa Esprit centre way back in 1996. Since then, its growth and evolution can only be described as nothing short of spectacular. Spa Esprit Group is now responsible for a myriad of beauty, lifestyle and F&B brands, all of which are the product of Cynthia’s daring and boundary pushing vision for her company.

She says she still has a long way to go

“I feel like I am on a big journey and I have come so far but there’s still so much ahead of me. I have learnt so much on this path that I have chosen. That success has shaped my way of thinking and given me more confidence. To build 16 brands and see some of them expand into 10 different cities is exhilarating and continues to be a learning curve. What’s exciting for me now is to continue to be curious and test my creativity and acumen in putting business concepts together that are fresh.”

She appreciates very much how entrepreneurship has changed her

“Success is an ongoing journey for me where my mind and my spirit can continue to grow. It’s a journey of understanding myself and putting that to good use. It’s also a state of happiness, to wake up with wonder and feel passionate in the many things you can do each day. I do think that the Spa Esprit Group has made a name for itself and concepts that we push out do affect people’s life. Seeing how our consumers enjoy our brands has made all the hard work over the years worthwhile but we won’t be resting on our laurels. Now, I’m even more encouraged to keep doing what I’m doing, that continuing to push the boundaries of entrepreneurship.”

She wants budding business owners to have three things

“Passion, tenacity, and velocity. To go far as an entrepreneur, you have to have all three. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’. If you give in all the time, it’ won’t work out. Women should also learn about the power of proper delegation and empowerment, lest they run the risk of burning out. Lastly, don’t let anyone tell you that it cannot be done because when you eventually succeed, everyone will say you are a genius!”

Meet Three Women Changing The Face Of Business In Singapore rachel
(Photo: Joel Lim)

The Fashion Mogul
Rachel Lim, 28, Co-Founder and CEO of Love, Bonito

To call Rachel Lim a fashionista is somewhat of an understatement. The 28-year-old oozes effortless style and sophistication from her very pores and the very fact that she started the online fashion label, Love, Bonito, as a way to make extra pocket money just adds to her alluring charm. Rachel has come a long way from her blogshop days. She recently made it onto Forbes “30 Under 30 Asia” list cementing her place at the very peak of Singapore’s sartorial scene.

She’s got determination and drive

“Being an entrepreneur is hard whether you’re male or female. Building a business is not as glamorous as the media makes it out to be. There are a lot of hard knocks, there are a lot of obstacles you have to face, it’s a winding road and it takes someone with a lot of determination and perseverance to fight through those challenges. Having said that, being an entrepreneur is very fulfilling but don’t do it for the sake of doing it. You really have to believe in the product or service that you’re providing and be passionate about it.”

She thinks women have made great strides in business

“It has changed very much now but when I first started out in this industry, people didn’t take us seriously. Especially since we were women and we were young. People thought we didn’t know what we were talking about but the whole scene is very different now. You see people like Sheryl Sandberg and Michelle Obama taking on these strong leadership roles so that has really helped people to take a serious look at women and what they’re capable of nowadays.”

She owes her success to the people around her
“I think surrounding yourself with a small, core group of people who will support you, love you and be honest with you is key. Throughout my journey as an entrepreneur, I’m very thankful for those who have helped me through my most difficult times. They are the ones who have also helped me to stay grounded and stay true to myself and my purpose.”

Meet Three Women Changing The Face Of Business In Singapore qing-ru
(Photo: Nyen)

The Start-Up Savant
Lim Qing Ru, 32, Co-Founder of Zopim

Feisty, extremely smart and fiercely independent. You could use any combination of adjectives and still not get to the essence of Lim Qing Ru. Having started Zopim while still a student at NUS, the now 32 year old saw her hard work pay off when US-based customer service software company Zendesk acquired the live chat software in 2014 making her and her fellow co-founders instant multi-millionaires. After leaving the company in June this year, Qing Ru has put that cash flow to good use by investing at least $1 million so far in six start-ups.

She never thought she’d be an entrepreneur

“I think I represent the majority of most Singaporeans, where their parents are honest, hardworking folks who really just keep their heads down and take on blue-collar jobs for the sake of the family. That’s the kind of philosophy my dad had. He wanted the same thing for me too. He wanted me to get a degree and have a stable job – that was his idea of a good life. So entrepreneurship was a very foreign idea and it was never on my mind.”

She credits her climb to the top to having an open mind

“There are a lot of expectations that are ingrained in the Singaporean society. The idea of success in my generation was to be an investment banker or a management consultant. The thinking behind it was that you’ll have a cushy life, you’ll get to travel the world but that in itself has its limits. So when you refuse to adhere to any of those stereotypes and forge your own path ahead, then you are limitless. I think this mindset has helped me but it does take a lot of courage and conviction.”

She wants women to stand up for themselves

“I think women should acknowledge that they do things differently to men, that they try harder to come across as likeable and that women often try to make their success a shared one by saying “we came up with this solution together” instead of attributing it to herself. I want women to know that it is ok to be aggressive. I do know that in certain situations if you’re not aggressive, you’ll lose out on certain opportunities but the very idea of entrepreneurship is that you’re not out there to reinvent the wheel. Entrepreneurship is creating something different of value and you cannot do that without trying something new.”