Fashion designer turned entrepreneur Elaine Hong shares how she founded ENYA, a pioneering digital period care company.
Before ENYA, Elaine Hong studied fashion, and worked in the fashion industry for about five years, managing the fashion department of a social enterprise that advocates sustainable fashion.
One of her tasks, which was to source materials and textiles, made her fall in love with textile, and she became passionate about how textile affects our lives and skins.
On a Thursday morning in August, Elaine came over to Cube Self Storage to access her storage, we started chatting about her company, ENYA, and the mission her company has to address and solve menstruation issues. This is the 1 sq.ft. Story of Elaine Hong and ENYA.
How Did You Come Up With The Idea of Enya Pads?
My business partner and I were in a car when we talked about the subscription business model. We do have subscription model businesses in Malaysia now, but most of them are non-physical, like entertainment streaming services.
So, when we thought about a potential physical product that would be suitable for the subscription business model, we both thought about sanitary pads right away. Women need sanitary pads every month, and it made sense for us to start a subscription business revolving around this need.
After the conversation, I started doing research about materials for sanitary pads. I found that organic cotton is very suitable and has a lot of benefits, especially for women with sensitive skin like myself.
Before this, I would have irritation and rashes due to the materials used in sanitary pads out there. It is very uncomfortable, and I end up spending so much from going for consultations with a gynaecologist.
The organic cotton sanitary pad was my solution, and you can get it in wellness stores in Malaysia, but they are expensive. So, we started doing surveys to gather data about menstrual period experiences, problems, and also to find out how an ideal sanitary pad should be like.
Based on the information we had gathered, we worked with experts from the industry to design ENYA pads. Our pads are designed for consumers. Most businesses usually create a product, and then later convince consumers that they need the product.
For ENYA, we work the other way round, we listen to our customers’ needs carefully, and then we create products based on their needs—that way we get to provide what’s needed and solve menstruation problems at the same time.
How Else Are You Reaching Out To Your Audience?
In addition to our ENYA pads, we also want to create a safe public space for everyone to talk about period and menstrual health. So far, we do this through social media.
I think Malaysians are becoming more liberal now, especially when it comes to talking and discussing menstrual health to the point of sharing personal experiences. I remember a comment on social media saying,
“I was thirteen when I had my first period. I didn’t know what was happening. I thought I had cancer and was going to die.”
You’d be surprised to see how open everyone is to share their personal menstrual experiences. Some would joke about it, which I like because we cannot be so serious all the time.
So, I would say that menstruation is no longer a taboo topic. We can talk about it, and we should be able to talk about it freely. Our social media platforms encourage healthy conversation and discussion revolving around menstruation and sanitary pads.
How Did You Manage Your Costs?
Officially, ENYA started in 2019. We had an office and storage space at first, but it was really tough financially because we were new and had not established ourselves. So, we looked for an alternative solution and found Cube Self Storage. Cube helped us to manage the cost of storage for our products.
Over the course of the year that we have been with Cube, we have upsized and downsized our storage space in accordance with our stock levels. This enables us to keep costs lean and only use space which we need.
Also, we don’t have to worry about our damage because of the climate-controlled environment and the security provided at Cube Self Storage.
What Advice Would You Give To Future Women Entrepreneurs?
If you are looking to start a business or exploring a business idea—just do it. When I want to do something, I don’t dwell too much on it; I would do the research, understand the risks, the rewards, and just put my all into it.
Also, don’t go around asking for advice because sometimes people’s advice could demotivate you from doing what you want to do. So, if you want to start a business, just go for it, but make sure you know why you want to do it in the first place.
Our intention for ENYA was not all for the money; we wanted to solve the unaddressed problem that has been out there for a long time. So, know your intention for your business, and just do it.
1 sq.ft. Story is a series in which customers of Cube Self Storage share unique lifestyle choices, experiences and stories. To get your story or business featured, get in touch with us!
By Tilon Sagulu