A couple of months ago, we posted a shout-out for a competition, "Design 2 Business Bootcamp" hosted by our Taiwan counterpart, Taiwan Footwear Research Institute.
The competition was open to anyone belonging to the Taiwan and Southeast Asia region, and two of our alumni, Cherre Eng (founder of GENA) and Jeranne Ang (founder of ABSENCE), got into the Top 10, representing Singapore and TaF.tc!
Alongside other representatives from Taiwan, Indonesia and Thailand, they went through a gruelling two-week training session in Taichung, where they learned and understood the various factors that contribute to becoming a successful fashion entrepreneur, preparing them for the grand finale - pitching day.
During these two weeks, both ladies had the opportunity to conduct market research, visit factories, embark on sourcing trips and network with potential investors. Not only did they discover Taiwan's flourishing culture; they further discovered their own individual potential as innovative, successful fashion entrepreneurs.
I had the opportunity to sit in the girls' daily activities. On one of these days, we had to report at 8am to visit a local footwear manufacturer's factory, Momentanée. After hearing the owner share about how and why Momentanée was founded, his journey of becoming an entrepreneur, and his advice to the finalists, we got to tour the factory. Upon seeing all the materials, machinery and team members working together, our participant's eyes shone with excitement!
Right after that, we went for a quick lunch before heading back to the campus. There, we sat through a lecture about intellectual property rights and how to protect designs and brands against counterfeiting and intellectual property theft.
Lastly, the participants' had to prepare their pitching presentations, and each received a one-to-one consultation from the lecturer.
The participants bonded greatly across these two weeks - they had meals together and explored the city at night during the weekends. They even helped each other out, from reviewing and giving suggestions to each others' business plan to modelling each other's clothes to potential customers when they were out conducting product surveys.
At the end of the boot camp, all finalists had to pitch their business idea to a panel of ten, and only one winner would emerge. The competition was tight! Every product was scrutinised for perfection and nothing was left untouched.
Our very own Cherre of GENA won the excellence award while Thailand's representative, Dear Ratanawijitrasilp, walked away victorious! I however believe that every one of them is a winner in their own right, for coming so far and for growing so much during these two weeks. The shared experience and friendship is priceless for them, especially as they share the same passion for fashion!
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