On October 10, 2019, Cosmopolitan Philippines attended the Bumble Bizz Summit in Sydney, Australia, where some of the world's most inspiring women came together to talk all-things business and success.
A platform that empowers women to make the first move, Bumble has made waves in the Philippines as it promotes equality while challenging traditional gender roles and expectations. ICYDK, Bumble Bizz is a mode within the Bumble app that lets you network with professionals in your area.
At the summit, we got to meet incredible businesswomen from all over, where they shared tips on what it takes to make it big in the modern world.
Founder and Creative Director Sunnies Philippines
Joining the ranks of the incredible women in the line-up is our very own Martine Ho. Responsible for the Sunnies brands we all know and love, Martine says it was a leap of faith to leave her dream job for a start-up. However, she followed her intuition, knowing that the business had *huge* potential.
"The key is to find a gap—what is missing in the market? At the time, we asked ourselves, 'Where are the cool, high-quality brands that have accessible price points?' This has been our vision for the brand since day one," she explained.
Since then, the company has grown and diversified, with over 700 employees working across the sunglasses, prescription lens, café, and beauty categories. Today, Sunnies products can be seen on the likes of Eva Chen and Kate Bosworth.
"The internet is making the world smaller. We love to reach out and let our products speak for themselves. The power of a thoughtful and personal message goes a long way," Martine shared.
"Communication and collaboration are at the heart of everything we do at Sunnies Studios. We love to work with people who are switched on."
When asked about their strategy for growth, the secret lies in listening to their market. The idea of Sunnies Specs was born out of the learning that customers were adding prescription lenses into their Sunnies Sunglasses; Sunnies Café, on the other hand, came to fruition because they noticed that people continuously took photos of their products in cute cafes. By constantly engaging, Sunnies is able to determine where their business could be headed next.
"Communication and collaboration are at the heart of everything we do at Sunnies Studios. We love to work with people who are switched on. Those who draw inspiration from anything and everything around them, whether it's the latest show on Netflix or a cool piece of content they read in passing."
For anyone looking to start a business, it's important to be clear about what your product is and what your brand stands for. According to Martine, setting realistic goals that are aligned with your talents is pivotal.
"It's important to understand that owning a business is not for everyone, and that's okay. It's not as glamorous as people think. Being a Creative Director doesn't mean that I'm exempt from dealing with numbers and excel spreadsheets," Martine stressed.
Running a business as successful as Sunnies certainly takes hard work, but Martine and her team are determined to take the Philippine brand to the global map.
Founder of MISSBISH and Yardbird Hong Kong
If you've ever found yourself strolling along the streets of Hong Kong, you've probably seen or heard of restaurants Yardbird and Ronin. Owned by Lindsay Jang and her partner Matt, their innovative take on Japanese food combined with the western dining culture took Hong Kong by surprise.
The concept of their restaurants was a stark contrast to the typical Hong Kong scene—it was much more personal, where servers interacted with guests freely, reservations weren't taken, and tipping was encouraged.
"Find people who are smarter than you, and work with them. In the real world, there is no space for your ego."
On top of that, Lindsay also founded MISSBISH, an online platform where like-minded individuals come together to communicate and share products and services.
Lindsay said, "There's nothing as important as being prepared. I can't stress enough how you should know your numbers. If you don't, find someone who can. Find people who are smarter than you, and work with them. In the real world, there is no space for your ego."
Liv Lo Golding
TV Presenter and Founder of FitSphere Singapore
Liv Lo Golding is a yoga teacher who launched a platform with online workout videos; FitSphere mixes yoga with high-intensity interval training aimed for busy people on the go.
"I truly believe that everyone should have a healthy lifestyle that is realistic and sustainable."
"The idea came from personal experience. I was tired of getting stressed about juggling everything I have to do and adding a workout on top of that," Liv revealed.
Liv aims to empower others to have a different view of what it means to be fit and healthy, which is not about getting quick results. She is also an advocate for climate change, where she started an anti-plastic petition in Singapore.
"It all comes from what you are passionate about and creating opportunities to share that with others. In my case, I truly believe that everyone should have a healthy lifestyle that is realistic and sustainable. I have that passion, and it flows into everything I do," she explained.
Founder of MissMalini Entertainment India
A digital influencer, entrepreneur, TV host and best-selling author, Malini Agarwal is considered as one of the most influential women in India. Her website, MissMalini Entertainment, covers Bollywood and fashion, reaching over forty million people each month.
As one of the first digital media houses in India, Malini's website has grown exponentially since its inception: "It is important to evolve with the times. It's true when they say adapt or die."
"People are constantly thinking about what they could do to become rich and famous. I say, instead of that, think about what you want to be doing for the rest of your life."
Employing over 75 people, most of whom are women, Malini's team is able to take advantage of technology by using data to analyze the types of content their readers want. "I think that people are constantly thinking about what they could do to become rich and famous. I say, instead of that, think about what you want to be doing for the rest of your life. Think of a word. How do you want people to feel about your business? Happy? Healthy? Alive? That's what you should be doing," she said.
Founder of Maggie Marilyn New Zealand
Maggie Hewitt, a young designer from New Zealand with a background in fashion and sustainability, took it upon herself to create change in an industry that was so ready for it.
Her brand, Maggie Marilyn, empowers all members along the supply chain and keeps the health of the planet at the forefront of every decision. She launched the brand in 2016, and its first collection was picked up by Net-A-Porter in the same year.
"I landed that meeting with Net-A-Porter's head buyer because I reached out to a friend. I remember being so nervous and embarrassed, but I guess it went well because we were the first brand they had ever picked up on the first season," Maggie recalled.
"Reach out. Don't give up, keep trying even if you're embarrassed."
In 2018, the brand switched all its wholesale packaging to fully biodegradable cassava root bags and released their steadfast Sustainability Strategy in line with the UN Sustainable Development goals. This year, Maggie Marilyn will implement biodegradable customer-facing packaging.
"Reach out. Don't give up, keep trying even if you're embarrassed. Don't be afraid to meet new people, network, and put yourself out there because you never know who you'll end up meeting."
Celebrity hairstylist and Founder of OUAI
Hairstylist to the stars and owner of luxury haircare brand OUAI, Jen Atkin is considered to be one of the most influential hairstylists in the world. She also started ManeAddicts.com, a highly-respected website that brings leading haircare knowledge to consumers and industry professionals.
"Prepare to make sacrifices because there's no room for ego on the way to success. When you get there, don't forget to send the elevator back down for someone else."
"I always knew I wanted more. When I got started, it helped that I had a friend to do it all with me. Back in the day, it wasn't easy to connect with like-minded people. It's so much easier now," she shared.
Jen also stressed the importance of finding a mentor to continually learn from: "Never stop learning, never stop growing. Prepare to make sacrifices because there's no room for ego on the way to success. When you get there, don't forget to send the elevator back down for someone else."