Malaysian entrepreneur Elaine Hong left the fashion industry to start Enya, which provides affordable personal and period care products for women

Elaine Hong knew she wanted to work in the fashion industry from an early age. She realised her ambition, but when she discovered the impact that fast fashion was having on the environment, she resigned. Her next role was with a sustainable enterprise that reused garbage.

Working there sparked her entrepreneurial spirit, so she decided to launch her own business. In 2019, she co-founded Enya, a period care brand offering affordably priced products. In addition to Malaysia, Enya has also established operations in Singapore and Brunei.

In her own words, Hong discusses her unexpected journey to becoming a business owner.

Read more: Gen Z prioritises period self-care more than millennials, new study finds

Women's health issues are not widely discussed in Malaysia. It is considered a taboo subject, so the only channel young girls learn more about how their bodies are changing is social media. 

Menstruation is a natural process for girls and women around the world. However, period products such as sanitary pads and tampons are often not regarded as a basic necessity. According to a survey by the non-government organisation WASH United, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and Unicef, 47 percent of women still face difficulty accessing menstrual supplies since the pandemic.

I suffer from sensitive skin, so many off-the-shelf personal care products weren't suitable for me. The only option I had was organic cotton sanitary pads, but they were expensive and widely available. I thought, why not find a solution for this and help women who face this same issue, so I started Enya.

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We needed help choosing the name for our brand. One day, while my business partner, Chris and I were stuck in traffic, he suggested the name Enya, and we've yet to look back. The idea was to have a name that was fresh and easy to pronounce.

Designing the packaging for Enya was interesting. I wanted it to be beautiful so you don't have to feel ashamed to carry it around. From afar, our packaging has a glowing effect and gets people interested. We want to let people know there is nothing wrong with having a box of sanitary pads in the open.

Being an entrepreneur has been a rewarding experience. There are many uncertainties and challenges, but I've learned to take things one step at a time. I've also learned a lot about myself, and what I can and can't tolerate. Most importantly, you need to have a great team behind you. I've made it my mission to take care of them as much as I do our customers.

See more honourees from the Wellness category of the Gen.T List 2022.


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