SINGAPORE — Lazada hosted its inaugural Lazada Forward Women Awards 2021 (the Awards) on International Women’s Day that recognised six outstanding women across Southeast Asia who are trailblazers in the eCommerce space, and showcased resilience and innovation in their journeys as entrepreneurs.
The Awards celebrates the range of accomplishments and milestones women in the region have achieved by overcoming challenging circumstances in their personal lives, communities and cultures. Comprising three award categories, namely the Creative Seller Award, Enterprising Seller Award and Inspiring Seller Award. The first-ever six award recipients have demonstrated their different approaches to overcoming and embracing new ideas when building an online business. The winners are:
Creative Seller Award
- Anne Ong, Owner of Anne’s Secret Recipes, SingaporeAnne is the owner of Anne’s Secret Recipe that sells quality baking premixes on Lazada Singapore’s RedMart Specialty Stores platform since 2017. Making a career switch from being an architect, Anne started her business in 2014 stocking the shelves at supermarkets, and ran the company with the motto No Mess, No Fuss, Just Mix, Bake and Serve. She comes from a Nonya family background where cooking runs in her family genes, with a love to preserve heritage recipes.
From happenstance, Anne started baking cupcakes for her son at kindergarten to help add colour and joy to his tea breaks. As her son happily shared the treats with his classmates, many parents started asking Anne for her recipe. Instead of simply sharing the recipe, Anne started packing little packets of premixes to be given out in the school, where parents could easily recreate the cupcakes with their children.
Despite the preconceived perception that only men could be leaders, Anne, with the support of her family, has embraced every obstacle that came her way single-handedly, adopting and learning new technologies and spending time to ensure heritage tastes are not lost. Anne has managed the art of raising her children, research recipes, running a central kitchen while marketing her business offline and online. In 2020, when she learned of some families losing their jobs, she also found time to mentor them how to bake and to sell their products to earn some money. Today, apart from Asia, her business goes all the way out to the Maldives as well. She is still intending to cater more for other communities by having her items certified as halal or kosher.
- Pham Thi Xuan Hong, Owner of PinkShopGiayDep, VietnamHong started her online store PinkShopGiayDep selling shoes on Lazada Vietnam in 2018 with the initial idea of having a side hobby. After realising that online sales can be quite active and trendy, she decided to make a full-time switch, leaving her job as a software engineer. Subsequently, Hong began to get more involved with livestreaming and started leveraging LazLive to provide her followers a holistic review of her products while introducing ongoing promotions and upcoming deals to drive greater excitement.
Working with her relative who owns a shoe factory, Hong sources for trendy and fashionable designs that she feels consumers will be attracted to. The beginning was hard as Hong’s livestream viewership rate was low. However, she persevered by upskilling her knowledge from Lazada University and the LazLive team. Gradually she incorporated her learnings into her daily operations and put into practice various different communication styles to keep her audience engaged. For example, she will plan and curate content in a storytelling format such as “How to pick the right shoes for a first date” or “Choosing the right shoes for yourself”. Hong will also strategise her livestreaming content to coincide with special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Teacher’s Day, Mother’s Day, and more. With a consistent and well-thought-out pipeline of livestream content calendar, Hong also created her own gameshow to keep her followers excited during voucher giveaways that has kept her followers updated of product styles and latest fashion trends. This led to her viewership to grow more than 60% alongside increasing orders.
Coming from the countryside of Vietnam where people are generally camera shy, Hong has grown more confident with her presentation and business skills, with the strong support and encouragement from her husband and mother-in-law. Hong continuously keeps up with new livestream features and proactively signs up for trainings and courses to learn of fun new ways to keep her followers interested in her content.
Enterprising Seller Award
- Georgianna Carlos, Owner of Fetch, PhilippinesA psychology graduate, Georgianna was a children’s guidance counselor for almost a year before realising that it wasn’t the right job for her. After a brief stint at a PR agency, she later joined the team of MyOffice, a virtual office company founded by her mother.
Around the same time, her family adopted four puppies, and she realised the youngest dog Khal Drogo had super sensitive skin and would get an allergic reaction no matter which pet product she used. Eventually she came across a product all the way from Italy, but it was expensive. She realised the ingredients were widely available in the Philippines, especially the active ingredient Neem.
Partnering with a chemist, they began research to create a new, locally-made product in late 2016. The first batch of Fetch was ready by March 2017. Besides being an effective and safe pet for skin/fur sensitive animals, the product was also registered and approved by the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Leveraging her success with Fetch, George also works with local pet shelter “Pawssion Project” to donate proceeds from some of her sales and even products to help with the upkeep of the local initiative.
- Lalilla Thamnita, Owner of AggieHome, ThailandLalilla started selling agricultural tools three years ago with her husband. Back then, they were a fully offline store and Lalilla started to look at selling online. She wanted the business to be modern and have the ability to keep records of the prices, inventory etc. she didn’t want a customer to walk in and leave empty-handed.
Starting from scratch and within two months, she received her first order on AggieHome that she started on Lazada Thailand, which was for a small item costing just B3,000. With the excitement and encouragement of the first sale, Lalila focused on growing her online store. When she found that such agricultural products were not easily understood and common with consumers, hence she decided to educate her buyers by uploading more videos and product information.
Although agricultural and equipment products are still her primary selling items in her stores, she has also branched out to selling solar panels after discovering that some villages in Thailand only had water but no electricity.
Inspiring Seller Award
- Hanna Suhardi, Owner of Shopping Shoes, IndonesiaHanna Suhardi, owner of the online store Shopping Shoes on Lazada Indonesia, sells women’s shoes and men’s bags. Collaborating with the residents of several villages in West Java and Central Java that have special sewing convection expertise, Hanna has managed to revive the tradition of tailoring villages through continuous flow of orders.
In the beginning, due to limited capital for renting a place to sell, Hanna decided to sell her products through the online marketplace. With her careful reading of trends and understanding of basic designs, Hanna supports more than 100 tailors from two villages in West Java and one village in Central Java to fulfill Shopping Shoes orders which can reach more than 9,000 orders per month.
Currently based in Jakarta, Hanna and her husband work with three local communities to produce her products and enhance the communities’ well-being.
- Annie Chia, Owner of NLWK Florist, MalaysiaIn 2017, a portion of Pasar Perambang caught fire, and half of Annie’s store, NLWK Florist, that was passed down from her parents was affected, losing almost everything including their family’s livelihood. She rented a temporary space for two years and upon recommendation from her friend, she decided to explore new ways of selling through digital means via online marketplace, eventually landing on Lazada Malaysia.
It was a challenging phase for her as she wasn’t familiar with technology. She had to learn from scratch things she didn’t do before, such as taking pictures, editing and uploading them onto the digital platforms. Not only did she research and learn from online community groups, whenever she came across English terms she was did not understand, she would get her daughter to explain to her as well. Every night, Annie will put in the time and effort to practice her photo taking and editing skills and it took her at least a month before she was confident of setting up her online store.
During the awards ceremony, Chun Li, Chief Executive Office of Lazada Group, said, “I am honoured to be amongst such inspirational women today. You found interesting and unique ways to leverage the Lazada platform to not only establish your online business, but also to engage customers and build a niche following while uplifting the lives around you. Lazada is proud to be your partner and have the opportunity to be part of your successful journey.”
As part of the Awards presentation ceremony, Chun Li also joined in a lively discussion moderated by Virginia Tan, Founding Partner of Teja Ventures and Co-Founder of She Loves Tech, with panellist Ayesha Khanna, CEO of Addo.ai, on the topic of Growing Women Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia: Current Challenges and Opportunities.
With the steady acceleration and growth of eCommerce in Southeast Asia, there is an increasing number of women business owners who have turned to the digital economy due to the convenience of starting a home business, the low barriers of entry and ease of registering a store on the Lazada platform, as well as the availability of services, solutions and knowledge to sustain and grow a business.
Held live in Singapore, the Awards was also livestreamed on the Lazada LazLive channel to viewers in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. It also featured guest performers like Malaysia’s rap darling, Zamaera and Singapore’s very own funny woman, Sharul Channa.