Womenlines is delighted to welcome Danielle and Agy, founder of ‘Green Collective’ the coolest eco-friendly shop in Singapore, as guests in the ‘Entrepreneur of the Month’ show at Womenlines. In present times ‘Go Green’ attitude is really catching up and Green Collective is giving an opportunity to shop so many varieties of eco-friendly products which are made with care, under one roof. Visitors can also check out the series of workshops from soap and accessory making to parent-child creative sessions at the outlet. Listen and read about the interesting entrepreneurial journey of the founders in their own words-
1. Please share with our readers a little bit about yourself?
Danielle: Originally from Quebec, Canada, Danielle has been living in Asia for over 20 years and 12 in SG. A primary school teacher for most of her life, she decided to venture into sustainable entrepreneurship in her 40s after facing some health challenges. All the personal changes made daily resulted in a greatly improved quality of the file. As a teacher, she knows how education is a key factor in changing mass habits and mindsets and The Green Collective’s mission to “Make Sustainability Mainstream” is an extension of her convictions and experience. Not only being more conscious of our daily choices have a direct impact on our personal lives and people around us, but it also goes a long way in improving the conditions of everyone involved in the production along the way.
Agy: Agatha Lee “Agy” is a textile artist specialising in embroidery based in Singapore. She was born in England and grew up in Hong Kong where she spent her childhood making daisy chains and walking in the hills. She was previously working as an environmental policymaker in the National Environmental Agency before embarking on a career in environmental education through art. Her previous life as a policymaker has enabled her to bridge the gap between nature and art and has encouraged her to create works to reconnect people with the environment.
2. So when did you started this venture and what inspired or motivated you to take a plunge into this venture?
The idea of The Green Collective SG was conceptualized over networking between green business owners, Danielle Champagne, Mayur Singh and Agatha Lee “Agy” in March 2018. While coming from different backgrounds and different countries, the common challenge faced by the 3 of us was that small brands focused on sustainability find it tough to be financially sustainable. With a vision to make sustainability mainstream, The Green Collective SG was set up as a one-stop space for consumers to find green alternatives to their everyday products. We also wanted to ensure that this business should be run by the community and therefore created a unique business model which is run like a rural cooperative and is based on sharing principle. Each brand within the collective contributes to, in some form or the other – by being a cashier for a few hours in a month, providing digital marketing services or any other expertise you can bring to help the Collective run smoothly.
We first set up in April 2018 as a pop-up in Payar Lebar with just 15 local eco-friendly brands, and in a matter of 6 months, we grew to over 30 brands. Today, The Collective has over 45 brands occupying more 2,600 sq ft at the centrally located FUNAN mall. CapitaLand has been very cooperative and our great partnership with them is one of the keys to our successful expansion. What’s even more exciting is that we are possibly the first-ever retail concept globally, to be curated based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The 17 Goals are the basis of the sustainability and each brand in Funan is linked to two or more of these goals.
3. Can you share with us some of the challenges you faced during your initial days?
-Setting up an entire shop with no budget at all. We dumpster-dived a bit, brought stock from home etc
-Managing the different expectations of so many people was challenging
-Keeping everything fair and streamlined. (space allocation, location within the shop etc)
4. So how do you balance your personal and professional life?
Danielle: Ah! THE question! Some days we just feel like we don’t! As a business owner, you can never disconnect 100% and always need to be available just in case. But our sanity needs to take time “off”. Be it just turning the phone to silent for a few hours and do whatever is making us feel good. For me, I spend family time, exercise, run with my dog, connect with friends and trying to get back into piano.
Agy: I wear many hats – partner, parent, textile artist and co-founder of The Green Collective SG, so I find it important to have chunks of quiet time to myself so that I can reset my mind! Having quiet time enables me to focus and commit to both business and personal life. I’m also very grateful to have a supportive husband and family!
5. What would you suggest to other aspiring women who want to venture out on their own?
-It’s a tough world out there but with passion, perseverance, flexibility and patience, we can do it all!
A bit of humility is necessary too in my opinion. Entrepreneurship can be quite lonely and learning how to accept our limits is what will help the most. We cannot be good at everything and asking for help with what we are not so good at will save you lots of time and keep you sane. We all wish to be able to do it all to save money but often, an investment in efficient help may be what makes the business grow or die.
6. Is there any person who has mentored/supported/inspired you?
Danielle: my 2 co-founders. We are a very different trio and we had to learn how to work with each other but they truly inspire me every day.
Agy: Same! My co-founders and the people who run the brands at The Green Collective SG. They are a passionate bunch of people, and being around them keeps me going!
7. What do you have in the pipeline for your venture’s future development?
We are working on a few sideline growth projects that will help us with our goal to Make Sustainability Mainstream… stay tuned!
Visit Green Collective at #02-18 Funan Mall, North Bridge Road. Nearest MRT, City Hall
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