The COO of the subscription-based apparel and accessories rental start-up hopes to encourage a new norm—sharing and renting clothes, in the pursuit of a more responsible, eco‑conscious lifestyle
Sustainability is gaining traction in the fashion world, and entrepreneur Raena Lim wants to help propel it forward. The COO of Style Theory, a subscription‑based fashion rental start-up she co-founded with her husband Christopher Halim in 2016, hopes to change the way people consume fashion by using a business model based on the sharing economy.
Similar to the concept of ride‑sharing with Grab and home‑sharing with Airbnb, Style Theory gives its customers in Singapore and Indonesia access to an “infinite wardrobe stored in the cloud” with over 30,000 items, including apparel and accessories, available for rental. The Generation T 2019 honouree wants to shift people’s mindsets away from buying a new outfit every time they want to and towards a new norm—sharing and renting clothes, in the pursuit of a more responsible, eco‑conscious lifestyle.
Here, Raena shares how she's pushing to change mindsets towards fashion consumption in the region, as well as what is life like as an entrepreneur.
The idea for Style Theory came into fruition three years ago
"I realised how absurd it was to have a wardrobe full of clothes, but still feel like I had nothing to wear. This led me into a never-ending cycle of purchasing new clothes and still wanting more, and buying into an unsustainable consumer culture that so many of us have normalised."
Style Theory could be the future of fashion
"We’re confident it’s changing how people consume fashion, and bringing us closer to the end of today’s buy-and-throw-away culture. Essentially, we allow our customers to explore the latest trends without worrying about wardrobe clutter or the environmental waste that comes with fast fashion."
Constant reminders are necessary
"A quote that I live by is 'To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded' by American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson. So on difficult workdays, I eat chocolate ice cream and remind myself of the progress we’ve made over the past three years—we’ve built a great team, bettered at least 10,000 people’s lives, and helped to push society towards a better future."
Building and maintaining a business requires grit and the right motivation
"Everything that can go wrong will go wrong. But I’m grateful to have Chris with me on this journey, and mentors who give me invaluable advice."
"Being so involved in the business means I might tend to focus more on the unsolved problems than to celebrate the wins. To get out of this negative headspace, I tell myself and my team to focus on the happy customers and to keep improving for them, and take the unhappy customers as motivation to never be complacent."