From activists and artists to entrepreneurs and eco advocates, these exceptional women are pushing the boundaries, and we love them for it
In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating some very special leading ladies who’ve elevated the game in the arts, entrepreneurship, activism and even conscious living in Singapore. Spoiler alert: don’t be surprised to spot a Honeycombers cameo in here!
Deborah Emmanuel – Performance artist and poet
Poet, performer and four-time TEDX speaker, Deborah Emmanuel is a force to be reckoned with. But you’d never have guessed that the literary genius was imprisoned in her teens for drug use. That’s what drove her to write Rebel Rites, an account of her year in prison. The non-fiction novel speaks about equality (inspired by her intimate experiences with women of different social stratas while in prison) and hard-hitting issues like Singapore’s drug rehabilitation process. Her work has spread as far and wide as New York and London, and has even had her touring Australia. We’ve witnessed this artist reading her poetry live and we have one word: mesmerising.
Christine is a social entrepreneur, environmental advocate, marketing specialist currently leading iRace Media, and author who passionately believes in women’s leadership and empowerment – and you may recognise her as one of our exceptional panel speakers at our HoneyTalk on how to be strong and stay sane! We particularly love her her for her charity work as the founder of two non-profit organisations HER Planet Earth and Women on a Mission, through which she’s taken all-female teams on challenging expeditions to the Arctic, the Middle East, Africa and the Himalayas. Her most recent expeditions have been to Palawan in the Philippines and Vietnam: it’s all to raise awareness and funds for underprivileged women affected by climate change and who have survived violence and abuse. Standing ovation here.
Stephanie Dickson – Entrepreneur, eco advocate
Aside from being the founder of The Wedge Asia, Stephanie is also the inspiring leader behind the conscious lifestyle movement that is Green Is The New Black. In our interview with her, Stephanie advocates reducing the environmental impact of consumption by learning how to shop consciously, supporting cool ethical fashion brands and putting and breaking up with single-use plastics.
Cynthia Chua – Beauty & Lifestyle Maven
As CEO of the Spa Esprit Group (one of Singapore’s largest lifestyle and beauty groups which runs Strip, Browhaus, Tippling Club and Ding Dong, amongst many others), Cynthia is the #girlboss that many others want to be. She began building her empire at 24 – now if that’s not inspiring, we don’t know what is. We’ve seen her speak so passionately about the purpose behind urban farm and restaurant Open Farm Community, and so proudly of her expanding Tiong Bahru Bakery family, and, she’s one of the warmest people you’ll meet.
Han Sai Por, sculptor
A Singapore Cultural Medallion recipient, Han Sai Por is one of Asia’s top sculptors. Her sculptures have been seen around the world, including China, Malaysia and Japan. Her works are best characterised by the use of stone and nature motifs like forests and plants. But don’t just take our word for it – see them at public spaces like Changi Airport and Esplanade.
Pat Law – Entrepreneur
The founder of a major independent digital marketing firm (winner of many, many awards) and The Damn Good Shop (full of fun, nostalgic Singapore stuff), Pat Law has been described as ‘an unapologetic badass’ which is basically why we think she’s so inspiring. When it comes to standing up and standing out in Singapore – especially as a woman with a very distinct point of view – Pat is absolutely inspiring. She’s so inspiring, in fact, that she’s even been parodied on local comedy show The Noose!
Stephanie Chai – Entrepreneur
From glamorous model to hard-working tech startup CEO, Stephanie Chai inspires us to just ‘have a go’ and try something new. As the founder of travel sales website, TheLuxeNomad, Stephanie raised funds from venture capitalists to get her business up and running. Since it launched in 2012, the site has become one of the most successful in the industry. We also love that she did all this with an all-female team when she launched.
Cheryl Gan – Entrepreneur
Cheryl Gan’s journey towards entrepreneurship wasn’t an easy one. The founder of HYSSES (formerly known as Mt. Sapola) struggled through her engineering degree and had a promising career in business technology carved out for her. But in a bold move, she launch into the world of aromatherapy and essential oils after trying her hand at massage and facial treatment classes. Today, after over a decade in the business, she has 16 local stores under her belt, with others in Malaysia, and stockists and offices in the UK and Kazakhstan.
Elim Chew – Fashion & Food Entrepreneur
Although she started out in the fashion and retail industry (remember 77th Street?) – Elim Chew has now moved on to everything from food outlets (I’m Kim Korean BBQ, Kokomama cafe, GoroGoro Steamboat and Korean Buffet) to social enterprise-slash-disruptive technology (FastFast is an app which is the courier service equivalent of Uber). Why is she so inspiring? Because she never gives up. Despite have lots of ups and downs in her varied entrepreneurial career, Elim remains positive and focused on the next exciting opportunity. Plus, she does a lot to support young Singapore talent by acting as a mentor.
Chris Edwards – Entrepreneur, Honeycombers Ladyboss
What can we say? Chris is the founder of Honeycombers Singapore, Bali and Hong Kong plus HoneyKids, and she juggles it all while being a proud supermum of three. Even the folks behind Facebook agree, having featured her in their #SheMeansBusiness campaign.
Inspired by these ladybosses? Check these stories out:
‘Drones and donkeys’: Read Ivy Singh Lim’s thoughts on Singapore society
Stephanie Dickson tell us how to live consciously
Meet the owners of Faux Fayc: A local makeup brand
How this local organic beauty label gives back