JOANNE KAY

The founder and CEO of home­grown sports ap­parel brand UL­TRON re­veals how she over­came chal­lenges to launch her own la­bel.

Women's Health (Malaysia) - - MOTIVATE - By Amylia Hilda

As an ac­tive per­son, I wanted to cre­ate a lo­cal sports­wear brand that catered to the ev­ery­day Malaysian.

In the last cou­ple of years, the sports in­dus­try has grown at a rapid rate world­wide. With the weak ring­git, I felt that the in­ter­na­tional sports brands of­fered in Malaysia were get­ting too ex­pen­sive for most. I also saw a gap in the mar­ket and was con­fi­dent that with our man­u­fac­tur­ing know-how, we would be able to fill that gap with sports ap­parel of an in­ter­na­tional stan­dard at an af­ford­able price. Also, I felt it was high time that Malaysia had its own mass re­tail sports brand that we can all be proud of.

One of the big­gest chal­lenges that I faced was find­ing the right peo­ple for key po­si­tions. We work at a very fast pace, con­stantly churn­ing out new ideas and strategies, and im­ple­ment­ing them with­out wast­ing time. It’s hard to find go-get­ters with a sim­i­lar pas­sion. More­over, I started the brand about the same time I was blessed with a lit­tle one; hence, it was chal­leng­ing per­son­ally to man­age my preg­nancy while break­ing bar­ri­ers in the in­dus­try.

I am not go­ing to lie and say it’s easy be­ing a mum and jug­gling work com­mit­ments; in fact, it is the hard­est thing to do! It boils down to get­ting your pri­or­i­ties right. At the be­gin­ning, I brought my new­born to work and to all my meet­ings as I was still breast­feed­ing. I was con­stantly play­ing the hands-on-mu­mand-en­tre­pre­neur role. Thank God, many peo­ple were un­der­stand­ing and oblig­ing, al­though I did get peo­ple judg­ing me once in a while. Things got tougher as she grew older. I had to ex­pand my team and was thank­ful to find col­leagues who could com­pli­ment me at work. Fast for­ward one-and-a-half years, and my pri­or­i­ties haven’t changed. Look how far we’ve come!

If there was one thing that I wish I knew be­fore I started my busi­ness, it is pub­lic speak­ing. I am con­stantly asked to speak in pub­lic fo­rums and events nowa­days. Some­times, it wrecks my nerves. I am slowly get­ting bet­ter at it, but I’m still not used to it!

Suc­cess is sub­jec­tive. To me, suc­cess means be­ing able to cre­ate some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary out of lim­ited re­sources and still thrive. Se­condly, it means you are re­spected for your con­tri­bu­tions to the in­dus­try and so­ci­ety, and that ev­ery­one in your team goes to work and re­turns home happy and con­tented at the end of the day. Suc­cess also means prov­ing the naysay­ers wrong.

Peo­ple inspire me, es­pe­cially those who make the best out of their cir­cum­stances; it teaches and in­spires me to be re­silient.

The one thing that I’m most proud of is the brand— UL­TRON. It has grown beyond my ex­pec­ta­tions. We have ex­panded to seven coun­tries (Malaysia, Brunei, Kuwait, In­done­sia, Korea, Sin­ga­pore and Aus­tralia) and were the only Malaysian sports brand to be a fi­nal­ist in the SPIA Asia Sports In­dus­try Awards 2016 (for The Best Sports Brand cat­e­gory).

Dream BIG! And never be afraid of fail­ing. Fail­ure is just a small speed bump that teaches you lessons you can never learn from books and preps you for even greater suc­cess. Be pa­tient, be re­silient and, most im­por­tantly, be will­ing to work ex­tra hard and go the dis­tance. En­trepreneur­ship is a tough and wind­ing road, so em­brace it!

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