Concerned with the dissatisfaction that society seems to have with regards to the perception of their bodies, both Robin and Roslyn decided to set up a community that aims to empower individuals in this area. This is how Made Real came about. By shaping the local community into one that is conducive to health improvement and advocating a wholesome lifestyle, they seek to encourage confidence and happiness through balanced eating and fitness.
How did the business idea come about and why is it named Made Real?
Robin: Growing up, both Roslyn and myself suffered from eating disorders. I formerly had symptoms of orthorexia – over-exercising and obsession with ‘clean’ eating, while Roslyn was a victim of anorexia and bulimia. We realised that a destructive body-image was the root cause of our disordered eating habits. Society is not sufficiently aware about the various forms of eating disorders and may not be able to support family and friends who are recovering from such eating disorders. Moreover, there is a huge taboo about seeking psychological and clinical support.
We named our start up Made Real because we want to bring awareness to this issue of having destructive self- and body- images and show people that it is a real problem. At the same time, we want to advocate a change in mindset that goes beyond the pervasive dieting and fitness fads in our society.
Yoga demonstrations at Uphoria!, a health and fitness event held at *SCAPE
As a child, did you imagine you will be doing this?
Robin: A few years back, I would never have imagined running a social start up. However, I have always been fascinated with business and entrepreneurship. I knew that one day I would be a businesswoman or entrepreneur – I just didn’t know how or when. I have always had a desire to create change and leave an impactful legacy.
Each month’s edition of Oh-Goodies! is curated based on a theme — for instance, March’s boxes were inspired by Spring
What is the most challenging part? How did you overcome it?
Robin: I would say that the biggest challenge was keeping my team and myself motivated. As with most bootstrapping start ups, there was and still is very little money, and we can’t afford to pay good salaries or even pay ourselves. The only thing we run on is passion, a shared vision and faith that all our efforts will pay off one day. We knew that running a start up with little to zero knowledge and experience would be difficult. We found that it is very important to celebrate small milestones and achievements to keep ourselves motivated. For example, if we got one more subscriber for our snack boxes, Roslyn would announce it in our team’s group chat and we would celebrate that. It might be just one customer, but it means one more supporter of our cause and one more person who validates what we do.
Roslyn: I completely agree with Robin. Besides that, on a personal level, the most challenging part is juggling this with my social life and college. I am 100% committed to Made Real, and am often mentally drained from developing or executing our ideas. It becomes difficult to make the most of out my college experience when I spend most of my time outside college. The major advantage of this is that time become so precious, that we become a lot more selective with our time. I am very particular about scheduling all my work, social, and college appointments. I also make time for self-care, meaning blocks of time where I just relax, go to the gym and listen to relaxing deep house tunes.
What kind of resources (not just financial) were available to you when you started MadeReal?
A hell lot of guts and skin as thick as rhinos. We honestly did not start with much resources. We contacted a mentor whom we thought would be interested in helping us out (Stanley Chia from Envisage). He helped us with the initial phases and spoke with us about the potential challenges we would face. It started as a rough idea and took around 4 months for us to really refine it and lock in our mission and vision. It then took us another 6 months to finalise and launch our first business model. We were fresh out of junior college and had limited experience and knowledge about the working world, not to mention setting up a social start up. I would say that the best resource we had was great people. We pulled together friends and acquaintances who might be interested and worked hard together to build this from scratch. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
The BeYOUtiful Carnival, a health and fitness bazaar held at UTown
Would you agree that females generally face more problems with body image? Why?
Roslyn: Body image insecurities are statistically more prevalent among females. Perhaps it’s because ideal body shape or size for women and girls may be more difficult to achieve. The emphasis on physical appearance for women tends to be more dominant on both mass and social media as well. Social pressure is exacerbated by friends and family members who either praise or deride one’s appearances based on societal ideals of how their body shape or size doesn’t resemble the ‘beautiful’ bodies presented by media outlets.
At Made Real, we celebrate self-love and body positivity
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Robin: My family, especially my parents, has been a great source of inspiration for me. They have given me never ending support since day one, although they worry at times that I am growing up too fast and biting off more than I can chew. However, my parents have taught me how to keep my head down and work hard to achieve my goals. They show me that anything is possible with determination and drive.
Roslyn: I am unable to pin point one single figure who I look up to. My closer circle of friends, including Robin, constantly inspire me with their individual achievements and drive. I surround myself with people who make me feel energized about life, and who keep me excited about working on self-improvement and making a positive contribution to society.
Parkour workshops at Uphoria!, a health and fitness event held at *SCAPE
What are your hobbies?
Robin: Work, school and my CCA takes up quite a lot of my time and I honestly do not get much time to myself. However when I do find pockets of free time, I enjoy going to the gym or catching up with friends over coffee. My hectic schedule has also taught me to appreciate the quiet time I have to myself for rest and reflection. If I have the time and resources, I would love to travel more with my friends and family.
Roslyn: I love being around people so I often prioritise spending time with people. I’m quite the typical city girl as well, and enjoy checking out cool new arts/cultural events in Singapore, or chilling at nice cafes, restaurants or bars. I enjoy spending time at the gym working on my strength, as well as wakeboarding. I also love traveling and make it a point to go for vacations regularly, even if my schedule only allows short trips.
A Healthy Snack Attack: Oh-Goodies! April High-Protein edition
What advice would you give to students who want to become entrepreneurs?
Roslyn: I don’t think I’m in the best position to give advice – this is just the beginning. I can offer some quotes I live by though:
1. If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. We didn’t really know what we were in for when we started Made Real, but we seized opportunities for collaborations and listened to new ideas. What we have created and now manage was something we have never experienced before.
2. Be resourceful and be open to learning. As a bootstrapping startup, even if you lack technical skills in certain fields such as design, you’d be willing to pick it up simply because you cannot afford the extra costs, and want your new ideas to work. This has happened numerous times during our journey, as I had to do the designs for our publicity materials in events, on social media, and for Oh-Goodies!. If you can’t outsource it, you just have to find ways to do it on your own.
3. Never stop doing your best just because someone doesn’t give you credit. In material terms, we’ve put in more than we’ve gained. We spend a lot of time on meetings, discussions, emails, administrative work, and logistics. We devote our time, funds, and energy into growing Made Real without expectation of massive material rewards. We would rather plough back our funds into improving our content, our Oh-Goodies! boxes, or for organizing more community events or programmes. Yet the wonderful, eye-opening experiences we’ve had are priceless.