A Passion for Fashion

The Singapore fashion industry may be small but it is burgeoning as a force to be reckoned with in Asia. Insight: Enterprise chats up one of the most dynamic fashion enterprises to emerge from Singapore.

passionforfashion
Clare Kwek (left) and Bert Tan (right) – all part of a big family that’s Bodynits.

Stitching Up a Brand
Mr Bert Tan, Executive Director of Bodynits International Pte Ltd, an active lifestyle apparel company, recounts how the company started off from a small room in his mother’s house in 1984. Today, the SME (Small and Medium enterprise) has grown to include factories all over Asia such as China, Indonesia and Vietnam, providing garments to big brands like Nike, Puma and Adidas.

While the headquarters is located in Singapore, Bert hopes that apart from exporting garments he can also “export values, cultures and systems” to the other factories.

He is alluding to the fact that despite its immense growth, the company still retains the intimacy of a small company. According to Bert, this dishes up the main advantage of retaining a loyal workforce. Bodynits Merchandising Manager, Clare Kwek confirmed, “One of the key reasons that has attracted me to stay in the company for so long is the family-oriented environment. You really feel that when the company grows, you also grow with it.”

She added, “Also because of the smaller size, it’s easier to get recognition from the bosses for your hard work.”

Keeping an Edge
Running a factory in Singapore means having to be competitive to keep up, and hiring and developing the right employee to do the job becomes all the more crucial.

“Contrary to the belief that in a local SME there is less stability and structure, smaller companies actually give employees more space to explore the textile and garment industry,” Bert revealed.

Clare, who started off in Bodynits in 1995 as a Merchandiser, agreed, “My decision to join the company as opposed to a larger organization was that I would be able to learn and grow at my own pace. Here, they have given me many opportunities to take up new challenges – from leading a small team to heading a department.”

“My decision to join the company as opposed to a larger organization was that i would be able to learn and grow at my own pace. Here, they have given me many opportunities to take up new challenges – from leading a small team to heading a department” – Clare Kwek, Merchandising Manager

Equipping its staff with current knowledge and skills is a crucial part of the company’s staff development initiative. The company sends its staff on a regular basis to training workshops such as those given by the Textile and Fashion Industry Training Centre (TaF.tc), to update themselves on the latest developments in the garment industry.

Seamless Integration
Bert feels that one of the positive aspects of working in a smaller organization is that employees get to be more in tune with the direction and vision of the company, The company culture is one where there are minimal barriers to communication between supervisors and the staff under them. “Here, employees are given a lot of scope to be involved in decision-making processes as well as policy implementation,” Bert said. The top management holds regular meetings with the rest of the staff to get their feedback on the company’s plans.

So what kind of employees do SMEs like Bodynits look out for? “What we need are team players who dare to take up challenges to actualize themselves. SMEs provide a platform for these people,” Bert said.

Clare added, “As long as people are willing to learn, cope with the changes and deal with demanding deadlines, which is typical of the fashion industry, there will always be opportunities to fully develop each individual’s potential.

Source: Textile & Apparel Magazine