CEO of Rentadella
I love using my platform to talk openly about my journey with eating disorders, body dysmorphia and mental health, with the aim of bringing more normalcy to getting help.
Tell us your story, how did you get here?
My story is a long one! I started my career at 13 when I won a local magazine singing competition called Teenage Icon, and went on to release my own Christmas EP (accompanied by a very funny music video) at 14. At 15, I played the lead in an award-winning children’s TV show called R.E.M.: The Next Generation for two seasons, before going on to release my first album at 19.
By the time I was 20, I had dropped out of university at King’s College London to head to Taiwan and pursue a career as a Mandarin pop singer/songwriter – it went amazingly well! I topped the charts in Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, and sang at stadium concerts.
In 2012, I received the Music Act of the Year award from Elle Singapore and the My Incredible Teen Icon award at the 2013 M:idea Youth Choice Awards. I went on to win Best Local Singer and Best Local Album at the 2013 Singapore Entertainment Awards. I was living the dream!
However, personally, I was struggling with an eating disorder brought on by the harsh expectations of the industry. It didn’t take long before I cracked and ended up gaining 40kg in 1.5 years. I was – by industry standards – unrecognisable.
I ended up going back to university and spent a lot of time searching for what I was going to do with my life and trying to recover. Once again, I dropped out to pursue a career as a songwriter, travelling around the world and honing my craft. I finally came back to Singapore to begin proper treatment for my eating disorder.
Once I was better, I rekindled my love for sustainable fashion and started Rentadella, a fashion rental boutique stocking outfits for brunch and birthdays, weddings and galas! Rentadella was really born overnight. Ever since I was 12, it was a big dream of mine to start a sustainable fashion business. Fast forward to five years ago, when I saw other people doing similar concepts, I got insanely jealous. Within 24 hours, I had written a plan and was buying dresses. Although I had no idea how to run a business, I just started it.
Today, we’re working on renovations for our brand new, 3,000 sq ft Rentadella store. I could not be more excited and proud of how far we’ve come! Our mission is to help every woman look and feel her best for every special occasion. It’s something very close to my heart after recovering from an eating disorder and living in a place where I never felt like that.
What impact have you made in Singapore?
This is a hard one! I think Rentadella has made a big impact in Singapore. This year, we were voted Best Formal & Cocktail Wear by an online media publication which is a huge feat. I’m so happy to provide a place where people are excited to go get dressed up. My mission was to bring in clothing from designers you can’t get in Singapore and create a place for people to find something to wear for special events. I think I’ve achieved that.
On a personal front, I love creating content on social media and using my platform to talk openly about my journey with eating disorders, body dysmorphia and mental health. It’s with the aim of bringing more normalcy to getting help and helping people realise behaviours that don’t serve you. I think Asia still has a long way to go, but I’m very proud to be invited to speak twice at TEDx, in Singapore and Hong Kong, about my experiences.
What does 2022 look like for you?
2022 is a big year for me. I’m getting married! I turn 30! Rentadella turns five! We move into our brand new space! It’s going to be a busy year filled with lots of little things that need to be done. Lots of admin work – we’re expanding our team and getting more clarity on where we want to be in the following five years. We’ve had a lot of requests to expand overseas, so we’re hoping and praying the Covid situation is on its way out!
What do you love most about Singapore?
The food and the culture! I love all the things that make Singapore uniquely Singapore. I love speaking Singlish with my mum. I love freaking out with everyone when McDonald’s decided to make their infamous curry sauce in bottle form. I love how it takes a maximum of 20 minutes to get to almost anywhere on the island.
I love how it’s always “sandals and shorts” weather. I love hawker food – chicken rice, kaya toast, wanton noodles, char kway teow, laksa, nasi lemak and the culture of reserving a seat with tissue paper. I love how Singapore is super clean and organised. I love our beautiful skyline. I love how there’s always something to do, somewhere to go. I feel so safe here. I’m so proud to call Singapore my home.
What’s the quirkiest thing not many people know about you?
Although I’m intolerant to alcohol, I have an obsession with collecting sake glasses. I used to obsessively collect a shot glass from every country or city I’d visit. This has matured into a very substantial sake glass collection, although I only drink once in a blue moon. Thinking about it, I have a pretty good cocktail glass collection for someone who rarely drinks, too!
Who is your Local Legend, and why?
This is tough as there are so many! I’m going to go with Hanli Hoefer who was an incredible MTV VJ we’d all tune in to watch. She’s paving the way for so many to start conversations about mental health, female wellness and other “hard topics” to talk about in Singapore. She’s killing it in her career: a judge on Supermodel Me, a host on HBO Asia, an actress, and she also has her own podcast with another local legend, Marissa Trew, called Just So We’re Clear.