SINGAPORE – It is generally accepted that the current economic state of the world with its extremes of mass retrenchments and bankruptcies around the world is not really a great place to be if you wish for a stress-free life.
This upheaval, however, hasn’t stopped one of Singapore’s youngest - and most successful - retailers from taking a leap of faith to expand her business.
Founder and owner of Singapore jewellery brand By Invite Only, Trixie Khong has just bought up another of the country’s innovative brands, The Mindful Company. When the founders of the brand announced in February 2020, that the brand was closing, Ms Khong reached out to discuss a possible buyout.
“Personally, I have always loved the brand and what it stands for. The social causes that the brand supports as well as its focus on mental wellness are areas that really resonate with me, and I am thrilled to be able to continue their legacy,” explains Ms Khong.
While many people may have baulked at adding additional staff and inventory during a time of global recession, for Ms Khong and By Invite Only it made sense to expand the range of product options available to their already large customer community.
Contrary to popular beliefs, people are still shopping, and By Invite Only is set to hit its seven-figure revenue target for 2020, despite what’s happening around the world.
“We are definitely going through uncertain times, but there is always opportunity to be found if you or your company is willing to adapt or pivot according to new consumer needs or shopping habits,” says Ms Khong.
“People are still very much interested in shopping. However, they’re looking to ‘invest’ their money in companies that resonate with them on a deeper level and are in line with their beliefs or values.”
Sustainably stylish & ethical essentials
Owning two companies that have strong ethical and sustainable core values has positioned Ms Khong’s brands to be perfectly suited for this new type of retail therapy.
When it comes to being a sustainable jewellery company, Ms Khong is very passionate about how her businesses operate and produce their products.
“And as a company, we have a bigger responsibility as our impact will be on a bigger level. The materials we decide to use for every item we sell make a difference. It has always been a top priority for my entire team to ensure that we are conscious of our packaging choices or even how we use plastics in the workplace,” Ms Khong explains.
The ethical and ‘mindfulness’ ethos of her new brand also fits into the existing business practice of By Invite Only says Ms Khong, adding that this was one of the reasons the acquisition was such a good fit.
“Our company culture is very much focused on being kind to each other as well as to our customers,” says Ms Khong. “It is natural for us to extend that belief across our supply chain. All of our factories are registered members of the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), which promotes ethical manufacturing and business practises like no child labour and paying their workers a fair wage.”
Ms Khong says that both companies will hold to these ethical and sustainable principles, particularly in the area of ethical manufacturing, and that her company will continue to work on finding new ways “to improve both brands as we continue evaluating our choices”.
Never take ‘No’ for an answer
Obviously, Ms Khong is a very determined individual. She launched By Invite Only while she was still a freshman at the National University of Singapore (NUS) back in 2009. The origin of the brand came from her need to find affordable jewellery that was suited for her sensitive, eczema-prone skin. By the time she graduated in 2011, the brand was a full-time business selling online in Singapore and around the world.
“I am very lucky to be born in Singapore where I never felt that as a female, I couldn’t do certain things that men could, or perhaps I was raised by parents who never put me down that way,” says Ms Khong, talking about her journey as a young, female entrepreneur in Singapore.
“As I started [my business] when I was 20, one obstacle that I had to overcome was to be taken seriously when I went for pitches or meetings. I often found myself dressing older or more formal to look like someone more experienced, and who knew what she was doing.”
Ms Khong overcame this ‘obstacle’ the same way she has done with everything else to do with her business; she just never accepted ‘no’ as an answer.
“If someone doesn’t give me what I want, I will speak to someone else or find another way to earn it. Not letting the word ‘no’ be a defining statement of myself or my company’s worth is also something that I had to learn.”