It all started when Hui Mathews began training seriously for ultramarathons and realised that there aren’t many affordable sports apparels in the market. And even if there were, she didn’t like the designs offered.
“So in 2014, I decided to design my own sportswear and sell them at an event booth, just to try it out,” she said. “We got 200 orders that very first day.” Things started to pick up from there and her brand, Ash Be Nimble, began to gain recognition locally. However, the journey wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Hui shares her struggles and how she overcame them.
What were some of the challenges during the initial startup?
Finding the time to keep up the momentum of the business. I was working full-time then and managing the online store all on my own! I probably slept only 3-4 hours every night that first year. I finally made the decision to quit my job after that so that I can focus on growing the business.
How have things panned out since you decided to focus on the business full-time?
The business has definitely grown by leaps and bounds with a wider range in the collection now, but I would say that with bigger growth comes bigger risks. A wider range means much more money is needed for production, and at times I would have to forfeit my own salary so that I can pay my staff.
Being a new mom and a business owner, how do you keep a balance between life and work?
My life is revolved around scheduling. I’m constantly running between work meetings and then rushing home later to feed the baby or coordinating with my parents to help with the babysitting. It’s definitely very hectic, but I’m so grateful to have my team to help out with the business side of things.
What have you learnt from running Ash Be Nimble in the last 3 years?
An important lesson I’ve learnt is the value of money and time. Time is valuable, indefinitely. In terms of money, where I can once spend on fancy luxuries when I had my previous job, I’ve definitely changed my spending habits to put the extra money into my business. I also really appreciate whatever free moment I have now, and any free help/resources I receive.
When things get too stressful, how do you cope with it?
I go trail-running! I train for at least two ultramarathons a year, so it is a great stress reliever. Just last August, I ran an 18KM trail and came out in second place, with a trophy to show for it.