Mar 09 2017
International Women's Day marks the day to celebrate acts of determination and strength displayed by women. In line with this occasion, Naiise will be featuring individual female entrepreneurs who have created businesses to improve the lives of others. From this interview series, we hope you get to know more about the women behind these brands and their stories.
Co-founder Sophia started The Everyday Revolution, a local non-profit organisation, with the intention to celebrate and recognise the works of artists with special needs, especially those with autism. They showcase their art as part of community-centric art events and through art-inspired lifestyle products with the help of a team of designers and artists. Read on as Sophia shares more with us on how The Everyday Revolution has done their part to keep art alive in the community.
Naiise (N): What were you doing prior to starting The Everyday Revolution (TER)?
Sophia (S): I run TER together with my parents and a co-founder while still doing our full time jobs, namely in banking, consultancy, logistics and accountancy sectors.
N: Tell us more about the moment that felt right for you to start TER.
S: For me, it was knowing a group of young adult artists who have left school and mostly are unemployed and at the same time meeting the right people who would form TER'S first team and also an opportunity with Parco's designers to put on an art/fashion show! All these came in at the same time and I knew I had to do it.
N: What was the boldest decision you have made to make TER happen?
S: Well, it was the initial "just do it" mentality. I have written a rough business plan and I knew that for it to be truly sustainable, it has to be big and expand beyond Singapore. But I don't really know how I was going to make it happen while handling a job at the same time. I reckoned if I didn't make the first step, I won't be able to get there, so I just started anyways. We now work with an artist in Australia. I guess one step at a time has been the mantra in this journey so far.
N: In the process of making TER happen, have you given up on anything? What are some of the things you have given up on?
S: My social life, and most definitely sleep.
N: Has anyone discouraged you from pursuing TER? How did you take it?
S: Yes, there was a lot of discouragement about what I was doing as people thought that it was not systemic enough and not impactful a change. People also mentioned that no one was THAT interested in our autistic artists' trinkets and no one would buy art from a 20 year-old for more than $100/$200 as that's what you can get in Bali or Hanoi.
How I saw it was that even if the change I was making was superficial, we still had people come up to us at events and tell us that it was refreshing to see our artists' works mixed with fashion or comparable to that of Band of Doodlers' standards. I think this changes the perspective of people with special needs. And even if it's just a small tiny fraction of society that are touched by our events, it still means that one more person is accepting people with special needs and autism into our society. To date, we have managed to sell an art piece for $1500.
N: What were some of the setbacks you have faced along the journey?
S: Loads of them! Lack of funding in the beginning, not knowing much about the art world, not really knowing all the nuts and bolts of what it takes to run an event.. and the list is endless.
N: How has TER helped the society to improve individuals' lives?
S: I think money aside, it has given the artists and their families a platform to showcase their works and be proud of their achievements. As a sister of someone with autism, I know that more often than not, the individual with autism and families receive more messages on failure and pity than messages of achievement and having something to be proud of. So even if it's just a day at the event, they add up eventually and it helps the families.
N: What's the happiest thing that made you realise pursuing TER is the right decision?
S: When people say that our artists' works are brilliant/colourful/invoke joy. And I'm glad to be able to facilitate that.
N: Any word of advice for budding female entrepreneurs to #BeBoldForChange?
S: Follow your gut and take breaks when needed. The important thing is to keep at it.