What do investment bankers do when they are retrenched from their jobs in the financial crisis? They can sit, complain and suck their thumbs. Or they can be like Singaporean Min Sim, who chose to start her own business – in exactly what she enjoyed doing.
Min Sim loved yoga. An avid student of classical Chinese dance in her growing years, she was immediately hooked when she first tried yoga after college. It was a natural transition from dance, she found, and a welcome respite from the stresses of corporate life as an investment banker.
At the end of 2008, during the height of the financial crisis, Min lost her banking job. With plenty of time suddenly on her hands, she threw all of it into yoga – in fact, she practiced so much she often ran out of workout clothes. But whenever she went shopping for activewear, she could never find any that she liked. Then inspiration struck – what if she designed her own line of workout clothes?
Her background in corporate finance – near useless to what she had in mind – didn’t deter her. Min started with some sketches, borrowed a ton of books on fashion design and drew upon her experience as a long-time practitioner and user of countless workout gear over the years. The result was a line of apparel that is distinguished by clean lines and subtle embellishments in what founder-designer Min calls “modern Oriental chic” – a tribute to the company’s Eastern roots and her classical Chinese dance background.
Om Republic was born.
“There is no shortage of activewear brands in the market, but the vast majority is made with synthetic fabrics and convey a hard-edged aesthetic that just didn’t seem to gel with yoga, pilates and dance,” says Min. “I longed for workout clothes with a softer look to mirror the calming effects of yoga, pilates and dance.”
“Om Republic is the coming together of my various interests – yoga, dance, art and environmental responsibility.”
Launched in December 2009, Om Republic‘s Oriental-inspired designs are rooted in ideas around eco-friendliness and environmental sustainability. Om Republic garments are made from organic cotton, with a touch of spandex for stretch. Organic cotton, unlike conventional cotton, is grown using a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Fabrics are also dyed using a low-impact process, and its packaging uses a combination of 100% recycled or recyclable materials.
“A lot of people who are drawn to yoga, pilates and dance are also green enthusiasts. It was only natural that Om Republic should support a lifestyle of wellness for the body, the mind, and the earth,” Min explains.