SPECIAL REPORT

The Youth Of Today: Raena Lim

by Anton D. Javier
Photography by Chino Sardea
21 Jun 2019

Ms. Raena Lim, 30, is the co-founder of Style Theory

“It started with a common complaint: Feeling like you have nothing to wear, even with a wardrobe full of clothes,” admits Ms. Lim. “When I felt this way, I’d succumb to the temptation of purchasing more clothes that I didn’t really need, which led to a cycle of wanting more and buying into an unsustainable consumer culture. When periodically clearing out my wardrobe, I’d spot many pieces I’d barely worn and would feel the pinch when thinking of all the money I’d recklessly spent.”

Tell us about Style Theory – what is it all about and what is its main goal?
Style Theory is the future of fashion – we provide a subscription-based clothing rental program for women to build an infinite wardrobe in a sustainable way. Style Theory gives women access to high-quality designer clothing in a convenient and environmentally friendly manner, as well as an easy way to explore the latest trends without much financial commitment! It’s a smarter way to consume fashion, as you can invest in the essential basics you really need, while renting the rest.

Share with us some of your personal experiences that convinced you that a company like this was necessary.
For me, shopping often ended up being a battle between practicality and experimentation. I’d struggle with making the right decision – is it worth it buying this dress in a trendy colour that deep down I knew would only be worn a couple of times, or should I yet again go for the safer (but boring!) option in black? It also turned into a stressful affair when shopping for an event, as I’d find myself having to clear my schedule the day before to search for a suitable outfit. Then, the upkeep of the designer dresses purchased for events turned into an expensive affair since dry cleaning fees can be really high.

I wanted a solution for these problems. I wanted to own what I needed on a daily basis, but have easy access to trendy styles to expand my wardrobe with. And that’s why I created Style Theory, a quality clothing subscription service (with free dry cleaning!) that allows women to build their dream closet sustainably by renting it.

Walk us through the steps you took leading up to the official establishment of Style Theory.
After realising there was a gap in the market, we had to work on identifying our core target audience and what their specific needs and wants were. This was done by building a focus group to test the market and to nail down the details of Style Theory’s offerings.

While we launched with a good base of customers and expanded from there, we had challenges reaching out to more people. There was a misconception that Style Theory is only for occasion-based events such as weddings and galas. While we do have outfits catered for that, our selection of clothing goes beyond special items to include office wear and fun pieces for the weekend. We then reached out to our potential customers through an integrated marketing and public relations strategy that positioned Style Theory as a complementary service to their everyday life.

Since the establishment of Style Theory, did you find that a young age was ever an issue?
Honestly, I’ve never found my age to be an issue when it comes to getting taken seriously and successfully running a business. I’ve been incredibly lucky to be surrounded by supportive mentors and like minded business partners.

What do you think are the advantages of youth in this space?
I feel there are fewer life commitments and responsibilities when you’re a young business owner, and being free from these sorts of obligations can help you be more flexible and daring. In turn, you can benefit from a higher risk tolerance and be comfortable with exploring, experimenting and working with less structure. Another big advantage of being more in-tune with what is relevant, especially if you belong in your target audience’s age group.

What advice do you have for young, aspiring entrepreneurs that you wish someone told you when you were getting started?
Start small and fail fast. When a young entrepreneur fails, they have much more time to learn from their mistakes and start again. It’s crucial to learn as much as you can, so do research, know your audience, and read extensively. Finding mentors in the industry you’re in is also incredibly important, because they can provide invaluable advice based on their own experiences. Don’t be afraid to experiment boldly and do develop some grit – starting a business is a tough journey, but a very rewarding one.