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Reshaping Beauty: Anya Active’s Melinda Is Targeting One Woman … – DollarsAndSense.sg

Launched during Singapore’s Circuit Breaker in April 2020, Anya Active has taken big strides in establishing the brand within the local activewear scene. Priding themselves on the quality and affordability of their products, the brand also aims to encourage women to adopt healthier lifestyles and to embrace their bodies. As Founder, Melinda puts it, “we want to help women understand that exercising is not about conforming to social beauty standards but to improve your health”. 
Before starting the company, Melinda earned her stripes working at local start-up Honest Bee – managing the business unit in Singapore, overlooking P&L, and focusing on growing the business. As the company was in its early stages, she found herself wearing multiple hats to cope with the limited resources that was available at that time. She then left for a Bangkok-based consulting firm, where she was encouraged by her friends to start her own company. 
Read Also: Kydra: How Two Gym Buddies Created Their Own Line After Failing to Find Functional Activewear in Singapore
The groundwork was always in motion, and had started long ago. “I’d always wanted to start a business years ago, so there wasn’t a single light bulb moment,” Melinda explains, of her decision to become an entrepreneur.
When she realised she was not going to continue in her role in Bangkok, it became immediately clear that it was time to launch her business. In hindsight, having worked for various companies and in various roles played a key role in shaping her success. Melinda had built a network she could tap on, she also had the relevant experience and having worked in management roles and had created sufficient savings to plough into the business and utilise for her daily expenses in the beginning. 
Even though she was no stranger to working long hours, starting her own business came with added stress, and required even longer hours to manage the un-sexy side of the business – namely accounting, HR and payroll, legal, admin and many other menial tasks. 
That was the beginning of Anya Active.
Read Also: Ariel Hay, Founder Of BYKURAHOME, Shares Her Experience Starting An E-Commerce Business As A Stay-Home Mom
As someone who does long distance running, yoga and HIIT workouts, Melinda had first-hand knowledge of the “unglamorous problems” of being an active woman – painful chafing, having her shorts riding up, which can be both uncomfortable and exposes more than she sometimes realised, and not having enough support with her sports bra were just a few of the common issues she (and many other women faced). 
Having worn numerous brands, materials and fit over the years, she also knew what features she wanted when designing Anya Active. 
Testament to her commitment to only sell high quality and functional products, Melinda wears and tests out every protype during her own exercises till today. This ensures that her products are comfortable and suitable for a wide range of activities. Before introducing new product lines, Melinda also tests her activewear with friends and fitness instructors, ensuring that her apparel appeals to women of different body types and is functional for a diverse range of activities. 
She also frequently incorporate customer feedback into her products. Rather than view this negatively, Melinda treats it as a vote of confidence from her biggest fans – saying that it meant they cared, “otherwise, they would not have even given any feedback”.
While her initial protypes took a very long time to manufacture, she has now familiarised herself with the entire value chain – from designing the activewear, sourcing for textile suppliers, manufacturing the product, importing her completed goods and packaging the final product. According to her, “the process from conceptualisation to delivering the final product could take as long as nine months, with a lot of back-and-forth communication with multiple suppliers at every stage”. 
It’s daunting to start a business in the best of times. To do so in a pandemic, in an overseas country, and without any experience in the process, was a perfect storm for Anya Active’s Melinda. She overcame the hurdles by being methodical about her work, “breaking down every piece of my work into mini tasks”. 
Summarising her thought process, Melinda says new business owners can “tackle your products first, they need to be solid. Then move on to strategy: you need to do marketing, branding and operations. Take them on one day and one step at a time.” She shares that this was how she was able to stay focused, and not become overwhelmed by the enormity and difficulty of the tasks at hand. 
As an entrepreneur, one would also have to learn to be comfortable in dealing with the unpredictability and uncertainties of running a start-up. She was now in the driver’s seat in the company. Melinda shares that, “you can’t say that you cannot do it. If you can’t figure something out for your business, then no one else will be able to – not your employees, not your friends and not your suppliers. As someone who did not have experience or skills in the creative and aesthetics side of things, there are ways to get and resources to get help – but you still have to figure it out.” 
Beyond an online store for beautiful yet functional activewear for all body size and shapes, Anya Active also partners with yoga studios, fitness studios, and wellness brands to hold regular community classes (fitness and non-fitness) for their customers. 
On top of engaging customers via these classes, Anya Active regularly creates inspirational content – via its #her blog – to empower women to start adopting and understanding a healthy and more active lifestyle. 
The company also values giving back to the less fortunate in society, and works with a several charity organisations to provide their fitness and wellness programmes to the less fortunate.
Read Also: A Mission To Help More Singaporeans Cycle. Former National Team Coach, Rezal, Shares The Reasons Behind Why He Started HappyCycle
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