Women Who Launch: Hom Yoga
Malvina Risby, 25
Founder, Hom Yoga
Meeting Malvina turned out to be like nothing I had expected. Gone are the days of being in the twenties when landing your first job is a call for celebration. Malvina comes from a new generation of the Roaring Twenties – a boisterous era of self-made prosperity. She is well-educated, ambitious and articulate, with a mighty strong sense of business savviness that comes through like a breath of fresh air. Yet, there is a great sense of ease, gentleness and openness about this young entrepreneur (she also an ex-Miss Universe Singapore 2008 contestant!).
With two hot yoga studios under her belt, she is about to embark on her biggest venture yet – a third hot yoga studio in the middle of Orchard Road. The flagship studio.
What is the story behind Hom Yoga?
After my overseas graduation in 2007, I came back to Singapore and started working for a non-profit organization. A year later, I joined an advertising agency as a public relations executive. While both jobs were fun and rewarding, they were also very stressful. The long hours prevented me from having a regular yoga practice. I was getting sick a lot.
I started doing the yoga studio hop and trying all the different yoga studios that Singapore has to offer. I discovered there was no studio in Singapore, which I felt personally connected to. I wanted a space that was modern, light-filled and clean with teachers who are genuine and authentic. Hom Yoga was born to bridge that gap, and as a platform to pursue things I feel passionate about.
How did you start?
Finding the place for my first studio was tough, because I was very picky with the energy and location of the space. I must have seen over 100 places! I left employment in September 2009. And opened Hom Yoga in December 2009. Nine months later, I opened my second studio in Sydney, Australia.
What is it like to start your own business at such a young age?
Terrifying! Not something I recommend. And only if you have a strong heart. When I was jobless, those were difficult months for me. I had no income. I needed to get the business started fast. I am lucky to be surrounded by supportive family and friends. My dad is a regular guy who started with nothing. It is through hard-work that he is where he is today. I was brought up to not take anything for granted.
How did you come up with the name ‘Hom Yoga’?
It has a double meaning. Hom sounds like home, which is a space where most people feel natural, comfortable and at peace. Hom also sounds like OM, which is the sound of universal truth and oneness.
What challenges do you face?
One of the biggest challenges I face is the constant effort to keep the quality of the teaching standard, and experience of the studio, consistently high and at its best at all times. I am a perfectionist. And it is important for me that the business maintains a certain level of professionalism and attitude that drives the teachers, managers and entire team to be successful and motivated. As the brand expands, I am beginning to face the challenge of keeping the studio’s ‘boutique‘ feel, while trying to meet the demand for a bigger and more-centralized space.
What do you remember to be your lowest moment?
When I started my second studio in Sydney, I was probably at my lowest point. You would think that it would be easy to do it a second time. But I started the Sydney studio with literally nothing – no friends, no support, no network and I was new to the area. This experience taught me the importance and appreciation of having a strong network.
So, why open a hot yoga studio in Sydney?
My husband is Australian who lives and works in Sydney. This explains my constant travel back and forth. When I was there, I didn’t see any hot yoga studios I liked. So I opened one. Today, that studio is doing amazing!
What is one thing you wished someone told you when you started out?
I wished someone had told me to enjoy and have fun! At the start, I was really hard on myself and this created a lot of self-imposed pressure. Looking back, I realize I had missed out on the initial fun of starting a business, creating meaningful work relationships and working on the creative process.
Who inspires you? And why?
My dad. He taught me the importance of fundamental things at the workplace like punctuality, professionalism and good work ethics. I learnt from him that nothing comes for free. The only way to see results is simply to work hard for it.
What are some lessons you take away from your experience?
1. Take baby steps. I had to learn to step back, look at the tasks at hand and prioritize. 2. Be less hard on myself. I had to learn to accept that I cannot control everything – let go, delegate and allow others to shine. 3. I cannot be the perfectionist that I am. Once I get my mind focused on a task, I have the capability to work non-stop until the job is done. Irregardless of how long it takes. It is not healthy.
Do you practice eco-conscious living? If so, in what way?
I would like to think I am! My biggest thing is taking quick showers. I never stay more than 5 minutes in the shower. Another biggie for me is turning the tap off when I brush my teeth. I always say no to plastic bags when I go shopping, and I do big loads of washing at one go.
If you could play your part in saving the plant in just ONE way, what would it be?
I would love to build an eco-friendly house with only sustainable materials, and power the house with energy efficient solar energy.
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