PayPal’s Changemakers of Tomorrow series pays tribute to everyday heroes in Singapore that impact society and bring purpose into the lives of Singaporeans. Born out of the COVID-19 pandemic, SOVA is a Changemaker with a mission to revolutionize beauty sleep, with high-quality Mulberry silk pillowcases that are ethically and sustainably farmed.
Very few entrepreneurs would want to start a new business in the middle of a pandemic, but not Gidania Wong, founder of SOVA Silk, who formed her new venture during Singapore’s lockdown period in 2020. She was passionate about impacting the daily lives of Singaporeans and found an opportunity to help them sleep better.
SOVA (from the Swedish word for “sleep”) was created to improve the quality of sleep and thereby the overall wellbeing of Singaporeans. A recent survey ranked Singapore as the most fatigued country in the world, with individuals not getting the recommended seven-to-nine hours of sleep every night. In the long run, this can be detrimental to overall mental, emotional, and physical health.
SOVA manufactures pillowcases, eye masks, face mask, headbands, and scrunchies, made from 100% pure mulberry silk and designed to enhance the sleep experience. Mulberry silk pillow covers are gentle on the skin due to a natural protein called sericin that helps reduce allergic reactions, making them ideal for those with allergies and sensitive skin.
“Mulberry silk has a well-earned reputation for pampering your skin and hair,” said Gidania. “I have sensitive skin and was recommended by my dermatologist to use mulberry silk pillowcases to prevent breakouts.”
For Gidania, opening SOVA Silk during the pandemic made sense. “I felt the market locally had some room for mulberry silk to grow in and with more time spent at home due to COVID and more focus on self-care, it felt like a good time to start a line focusing on mulberry silk and beauty sleep products,” she explained.
Despite the sound reasoning behind her decision, Gidania and SOVA had to overcome many hurdles while trying to get the business off the ground.
“Apart from manufacturing delays, there was also the inability to travel for sourcing and product testing,” she said. “Securing retailers and pop-ups during the pandemic was also arduous as retailers and malls scaled back on events and activities in a big way. Even getting a reliable courier proved an uphill task that I wasn’t prepared for. It was like learning to walk all over again.”
But SOVA managed to overcome its growing pains, recording a surge in sales during the festive season as it proved to be a popular Christmas gift among holiday shoppers. In addition to consumer sales, SOVA has also made inroads in the business-to-business space as corporate gifts.
In a short span of time, SOVA has scaled beyond Singapore with customers from Malaysia, Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. This is where the checkout experience comes into play as trust and familiarity are crucial for online customers. Reflecting on SOVA’s journey to date, Gidania is thankful for having a relationship with PayPal. Being an avid user of PayPal herself, she understands the importance of trust and assurance for a consumer when shopping online.
In fact, there have been many occasions where consumers purchasing from physical pop-up stores have requested to make payment using PayPal instead of queueing at the cashier, she added. It is this simple, safe, and hassle-free checkout experience that shoppers love. The same ease is applied to making payments out to global suppliers, through a simplified, multi-currency process.
Another key factor to SOVA’s success has been the support of her family, Gidania shared.
“My family is my rock; my husband Jamie has been so supportive and helped to hold the fort at home while I slogged through many late nights rushing for the launch of SOVA,” she said. “The kids constantly tell me how proud they are of me, and happily gifted their teachers SOVA products for Teacher’s Day so that they could spread the joy of having good sleep.”
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