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