How a Singaporean Woman Built a $1.8 Million Apparel Brand by 24

Mandy Chan

Singaporean Mandy Chan became her own boss to have full autonomy over her life at age 19. Today, the 24-year-old entrepreneur behind a lifestyle brand is valued at around $2.5 million Singaporean dollars ($1.8 million).

Breaking the mold: A few years ago, Chan used her gap year to fulfill a longtime dream of running a business instead of pursuing a university degree, according to Zula

  • In a recent interview with Cleo, Chan said she found inspiration for Bow from her own needs as a consumer.
  • “We work, go to the gym, hang out with our friends — we have all these activities in a day and I wanted a bag to cater to this lifestyle,” she said.
  • Chan’s decision to briefly set school aside to pursue her dream resulted in her parents cutting off her finances, so she worked multiple part-time jobs to save money for her business idea. 
  • Having experienced the corporate work environment reinforced Chan’s determination to continue despite some setbacks early on.
  • “There were a few key partners involved at the start — all with different resources to help. And then a partner left over a disagreement, which really broke me,” she narrated. 

Aiming her bow: Despite uncertainties, Chan worked with her co-founder, CK, to craft the earliest version of a durable backpack that would be able to carry multiple items such as shoes, toiletries and clothes.

  • After crafting an early prototype for her planned backpack, she sought feedback from strangers in the Central Business District but received a lot of negative reactions.
  • Not discouraged by the feedback, Chan used her savings of around S$5,000 ($3,650) and searched for suitable manufacturers across China.
  • While many manufacturers did not take her seriously in the beginning, Chan was able to eventually find a manufacturer that would produce five versions of the backpack. 
  • In 2017, she raised almost S$60,000 (more than $43,000) in 30 days on the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter for her product Quiver under the Bow brand.
  • This was followed shortly with an updated version called Quiver X, which successfully raised S$74,450 ($54,358).
  • Today, Bow has transitioned from a backpack brand into a full lifestyle company with its recent launch of Anchor, a performance T-shirt that promises to be “the only T-shirt you’ll ever need.”
  • Chan attributed the brand’s success to the lessons she learned from setbacks she previously faced and the people who supported her from the beginning. 

Feature Image via Bow For Bold

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