Celebrating SG Women Who Chose to Challenge!

Article by Puja Chandra Nanda

With International Women’s Day a week away, we look at some of Singapore’s female self-starters – enterprising women who fought the odds and chose to challenge stereotypes – both in business and society. These women have chased their passion with single-minded determination and grit to pave the way for success!

These women have #ChosenToChallenge and we are here to showcase their inspiring journey! It is only befitting that this feature comes in a year that has also been declared as the “Year of Celebrating SG Women”by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).

Here are their stories:

Chin Rui Shan, Founder of Gooberr

Chin Rui Shan with Gooberr products

Q.Why Gooberr? What inspired you to set up this business?

CRS: “My mum inspired me to start Gooberr, seeing her go through cancer. She’s one of the strongest people I know, being poked and prodded every week. It gave me my company’s ethos – I just knew that I wanted to help make mums’ lives better somehow; it didn’t matter how big the impact was, I just wanted to do something to help.

After starting Gooberr, I started having mums write in telling me how they’re so happy that they were able to increase their supply by 20ml and how that means the world to them. Other mums were able to double their supply from 250ml to 550ml or from 180ml to 350ml. Some shared how our Boobkies helped make their milk more fatty and nutritious for their babies. International customers all the way from Canada and Indonesia have also told me they love how Gooberr’s Boobkies are completely free of additives and that they can’t find something like that where they live. That’s something that keeps me going.”

Q. Since you are not a mom yourself, how did you relate to the struggles of a new mother including lactation woes and dietary needs?

CRS: “Some of Singapore’s most popular gynaecologists are male. It’s also worth noting that some of the biggest brands in the world are built by men for women. Victoria’s Secret, for example: what does a man know about making bras as support for womens’ breasts? For Gooberr, I do my research in creating a product, then I consult and work with professionals in the field to arrive at something that works for my customers and continuously engage them to get feedback on how we can do better for them.

I definitely do not presume to know what’s best for moms. However, I believe it’s about living a healthy lifestyle, and eating grains and fruits, unprocessed foods, and less additives. For Gooberr, I ship in ingredients from the US to make sure our mummies get the best. It is pricey, but it is never about sourcing the cheapest ingredients for the highest margins. To ensure that the product works, I also had samples gifted to nursing moms to get feedback. When I received positive comments, I knew I was on the right track, and spent another couple of weeks fine tuning before I even considered launching.”

Q. How would you describe your entrepreneurial journey? What are the challenges you faced?

CRS: “My entrepreneurial journey was definitely stressful at first. I felt out of my element as it is nothing like what I was used to in the corporate world where I had a superior I could always go to for advice or direction. I called all the shots, and there were so many variables and unknowns. If anything went wrong, it would be all on me.

My biggest challenge came with the spread of COVID-19, as Gooberr was only slightly over a year into its launch. Luckily, I made the decision from the start that quality and hygiene will be at the forefront for Gooberr, which is why our products are baked and produced at an SFA Grade A and FSSC Certified Facility. This means hair nets, masks, gloves, and aprons must be worn to ensure we meet global food safety standards. When we saw home bakers forced to close for a period during lockdown, Gooberr wasn’t affected by this.

Still, global logistics was a nightmare, so it was hard to get stock of certain key ingredients for products, losing potential sales. Retail shops were also shuttered, resulting in revenue losses as well as losses from inventory thrown out at consignment shops I collaborate with. It meant pivoting to focus even more on Gooberr’s online presence as well as logistics to get our products to our customers fast.”

Q. What tips can you provide to budding female entrepreneurs in Singapore?

CRS: “Women are increasingly being thrust into the spotlight now thanks to a global movement towards gender equality. I hope as women we continue to strive to propel this and not let it just be something that’s the popular opinion right now – don’t let up and keep moving forward. Take heart in the fact that you made the best decision at a given time with information that was available to you. There’s a lot we can do to help empower each other such as creating an all-women workplace and making it women-friendly, for example, by having a private breastfeeding area for new moms returning to work. This is not only good for business (studies have shown that moms who breastfeed are found to fall sick less often) but also encourages workplace loyalty.”

Gooberr, founded by Chin Rui Shan in 2019, is a home-grown brand that specialises in lactation products, skincare, and baby apparel. Read more and shop for Gooberr products here.

Jasmine J Goh, Founder of Twinkle

Jasmine J Goh with her range of Twinkle products

Q. What inspired you to set up this business?

JJG: “The idea began with wanting to share my mum’s love and traditional formula for my hair when I was a baby and a desire to pass it down to my sons. Now I want to share this secret formula of natural ingredients with others mums so our Twinkle Baby tag line is “Made with Mum’s Love”

Q. How would you describe your entrepreneurial journey?

“I started my entrepreneurial journey at the young age of 7 years. I think the key point is never stop learning, never give up and persistence.”

Q.What are the challenges you faced?

JJG: “As women entrepreneur, we have so many things to juggle in life like family and kids so we really have limited time and we need to make use of time in the best possible manner to be able to pursue our entrepreneur journey for long term.”

Q. What tips can you provide to budding female entrepreneurs in Singapore?

JJG: “Tips for budding female entrepreneurs:

  •        Always have a dream and follow your passion
  •        Never give up and never stop trying
  •       Make use the best of your time

All women can have it all provided they know how to make use of their time in an efficient way!

Twinkle is a range of natural and organic products formulated with high quality ingredients and designed for the total well-being of the family. Read more and shop for Twinkle products here. Jasmine J Goh is also founder of the Red Tree Group, with 3 leading publications under it.

Sherrie Han, Founder of The Eliana Timekeeper

Sherrie Han wearing the Rose Gold with Stainless steel from her Twilight Glint Collection

Q. What inspired you to set up this business?

SH: “I’ve always had a love for watches, having grown up wearing a Casio every day to primary school. The inspiration that launched the company came when I decided to take time off work and family to attend a full-day mechanical watch servicing workshop just to “get away from everything and everyone”. I really enjoyed working with my hands in concentration and seeing how the gears magically came together and thought to myself “wouldn’t it be great if I could do this for a living?”. I also felt that there was a dissonance between the mechanical watch offerings between men’s and women’s watches; I couldn’t find a mechanical watch that I liked or could afford as a young professional and hence, The Eliana Timekeeper was

Q. As a working mom, how did you manage to find ‘time’ to establish your own business from scratch?

SH: “As a working mom, it is difficult to get “head-space” unless time is intentionally set aside.Day-dreaming and tinkering with the watches started out as a passion project which I deliberately took on as a creative outlet when I was caring for the children. It helped that my family was supportive of my work, which gave me the courage and support I needed to
launch the business.”

Q. How would you describe your entrepreneurial journey? What are the challenges you faced, especially since watch-making is a male dominated industry?

SH: “The entrepreneurial journey has been an adventure. Being a young woman and a small company, we’ve had to demonstrate more commitment and grit to be taken seriously by both our partners and customers. Many times we were told “there is no market for ladies’ mechanical watches” when we started out. Most women don’t know the difference between a quartz and a mechanical watch to begin with and simply decide to buy a watch based on the price, aesthetics or brand. We’re hoping to change that- to show women the value and beauty of a mechanical watch which involves much workmanship, is more sustainable as it lasts a lifetime (if treated well) and does not contain any batteries. As a forerunner in this area, we’re challenging the perception that “women only want watches that are pretty” and showing that women can appreciate mechanical watches. That in itself has been a challenge!”

Q. What tips can you provide to budding female entrepreneurs in Singapore?

SH: “Enjoy the journey and don’t belittle the courage to start or work on seemingly insignificant things. Singaporeans are generally very goal-oriented, but as an entrepreneur, sometimes the willingness to take a risk and learn along the way counts for a lot more than immediate, tangible results. After all, the fruit is the last thing that grows on a tree.”

Read more about Sherrie Han's venture and purchase The Eliana Timekeeper limited-edition first collection of women’s mechanical watches here.