BREAKING BOUNDARIES

Kavita Thulasidas

MANAGING, CREATIVE DIRECTOR & LEAD FASHION DESIGNER

STYLEMART BRIDAL COLLECTION PTE LTD

(Pulsar Category Winner 2017)

"Under Kavita Thulasidas’s leadership, Stylemart is fusing Asian styles and hues into uniquely Singaporean creations to celebrate our diverse traditions and cultures"

At only 42 years of age, Kavita Thulasidas is the soul and strength of homegrown fashion boutique, Stylemart. Under her watchful eyes, its reputation and reach has grown well beyond the shores of Singapore. Established by her grandfather in the 1950s, Stylemart had a humble beginning in Changi Village as a tailoring business that catered to the RAF officers in the 1960s. Kavita’s mother Mdm Huri Baxani cemented its name as a high-fashion Indian boutique on Selegie Road in the 1980s, when it came to be known as the “Singapore’s Indian Fashion Trendsetters”.

In 1992, Kavita joined her mother in the business. She was only 18 at that time. “In fact, I got involved in the family business at a very young age without even realising it,” she says, recalling how she grew up surrounded by fine fabrics and garments.

In 1999, during the Asian currency crisis, Kavita formally took over the reins of Stylemart, forging a path despite the unfavourable business climate and her inexperience. Stylemart proved to be a worthy testing ground for Kavita’s courage and integrity. What unfolded in the next six years is the inspiring story of one woman’s vision and determination to steer a family enterprise away from certain demise back to profitability.

As the Stylemart boss, Kavita quickly identified the need to change the management strategy as well as to secure a new niche in the market. Kavita decided to cater to a growing demand in the bridal segment. She created a new shopping ambience after an extensive renovation and also extended the retail floor space. These radical reforms paid off. Within a year, she grew sales by 50 per cent. Then tripled it over the next five years. Stylemart is today a high-end fashion label, thanks to Kavita’s tireless focus on branding, customer service, as well as her personal charisma and creativity.

A gifted fashion designer who loves creating beautiful things, Kavita has a passion for Stylemart that stems not merely from her quest to be a good businesswoman, but also from her personal drive to fulfil herself artistically. And it shows in her creations. With a dedicated team of in-house designers and seamstresses, Stylemart offers customised designs with an Indian twist. Recognising that service is the key to survival and success, Kavita trains her new staff personally.

Kavita appreciates that she has extended Stylemart’s market share beyond the Indian community. Recognising that high-profile, powerful women like to dress in modern styles with an ethnic twist that reflect their different cultural backgrounds, she launched her own fashion label, Asian Woman, in 2004, which quickly attracted much public attention. Her signature Asian Fusionwear has won the hearts and minds of many a Singaporean woman of substance. This is yet another initiative that further cements the success of Stylemart. Today, a large segment of its clientele is from the Chinese and expatriate communities in Singapore.

“What you wear is not merely a dress or attire that you wrap around yourself. It is a statement of who you are. It is an expression of your identity, which is why my fusion ideas have been such a success with my clients. They are not looking for another run-of-the-mill outfit. They are looking to make their own unique statement. And I consider it a privilege that I get to articulate their individuality and specialness through my creations, my mélange of threads and colours. I cannot tell you how deeply satisfying the sense of accomplishment is,” Kavita says.

In January 2006, Kavita purchased the commercial property from which she operated. This buy added to her retail space on Selegie Road. Kavita then moved her Asian Woman outlet from Centrepoint to Selegie Road. Consolidating her retail outlets under one roof has proven to be significantly better for her company, as it provides a more streamlined customer experience.

In 2007, Kavita embarked on an ambitious plan to tap the emerging Indian market by launching a spa and lifestyle boutique in Bangalore. The Indian beauty industry is worth more than US$1.5 billion and grows 20 per cent every year. Thanks to Kavita’s resourcefulness, she has carved a niche for herself in the Indian beauty market by emphasising excellent service that sets the standard for India’s spa industry.

In addition to her accomplishments as an entrepreneur, Kavita is also lauded for her philanthropy. The annual fashion shows she has been holding for the last 25 years have recently become fundraising events.

Kavita’s Stylemart accomplishments underscore the age-old foundations of success in business — excellence in service rather than marketing gimmicks, clarity of vision rather than fads, creativity rather than counterfeits, strength of character rather than excuses, and plain old hard work. There are no short-cuts to success, and Kavita has taken none.

AWARD JUDGE

BG (NS) Chan Wing Kai

Director

Seed Global Investment

BG (NS) Chan Wing Kai spent 29 years in the Singapore Armed Forces as a military officer. He rose up to the Army’s top leadership and held numerous key appointments.

The years in the Armed Forces provided him a strong foundation in leadership, human capital management, operational planning, training development and critical diplomatic skills.

He retired from active military service in 2016 and is currently a Director with SEED Global Investment, a real estate investment firm. He oversees the company’s portfolio and business development in the US and UK. He holds a MSc in Applied Finance from the Singapore Management University, and is no stranger to corporate finance, portfolio management, equities, bonds and derivatives.

AWARD JUDGE

TIN PEI LING

Member of Parliament
CEO

Business China

Ms Tin Pei Ling is the Chief Executive Officer of Business China, a non-profit organisation that harnesses the support of the public sector & private enterprises to strengthen the ties between Singapore and China. Prior to joining Business China, Pei Ling was the Group Director of Corporate Strategy for Jing King Group.

Pei Ling is an elected Member of Parliament in Singapore since 2011 and currently serves on the Public Accounts Committee. She also serves on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Communications & Information (from 2018, Dy Chairperson) and Health (2011 – present) and previously for Law/Home Affairs (2011-2015) and Social & Family Development (2015 – 2018, Dy Chairperson).

AWARD JUDGE

RYAN CHIOH

Managing Director

Faseastflora.com

Mr Ryan Chioh joined FEF.com in 1998 as Executive Director of Far East Flora Holdings Pte Ltd.

Always a firm advocator for technology, Ryan identified the direction for e-commerce development and saw a business opportunity to offer FEF.com’s extensive range of flowers and gifts online in 2001. Ryan blended his IT savviness and prudent business sense to steer the company’s website to become the leading portal for flowers and gifts. Ryan also brought the company to another level by spearheading the development of a CRM and ERP business solution, integrating the front-end and back-end operations so that there would be easier identification of customer base.

AWARD JUDGE

NEO SING HWEE

Asia Pacific, Asean and Singapore Internal Audit Leader, Risk Advisory Services

Ernst & Young

Mr Neo Sing Hwee sits in the EY Asean Partner Governance Council and leads the Advisory (Risk) Internal Audit Practice in Ernst & Young Asia Pacific, Asean and Singapore.

He has more than 20 years of experience in providing risk management, performance improvement, internal controls and business advisory services to clients in various industries, including organisations in the government and public sector such as ministries and statutory boards. He provides advice to Boards and Management on leading practices, insights as well as issues relating to corporate governance, risk management and internal controls.

AWARD JUDGE

DR LIM WEE KIAK, PBM

Member of Parliament
CEO

Eagle Eye Centre

Dr Lim Wee Kiak, is an elected Member of Parliament for Sembawang GRC since 2015 and serves as chairman of Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Ministry of Community, Culture and Youth. An Ophthalmologist, Dr Lim is currently the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Eagle Eye Centre.

Dr Lim joined the Singapore Armed Forces as a medical officer in 1994 and completed subspecialty training in Ophthalmology in 1998, with a Master’s degree in Medicine and two post-graduate specialist qualifications in Ophthalmology. During his service in SAF, he led numerous humanitarian missions to neighbouring countries. He joined Singapore National Eye Centre and was awarded the MOH HMDP fellowship in 2003, doing one year of clinical and research Fellowship at the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health.

Dr Lim had been an active grassroots leader since 1998 before joining politics in 2006. For his active community involvement, he was awarded the Young Executive of the Year in 2000 and Public Service Medal (PBM) in 2003.

AWARD JUDGE

Chew Mok Lee

Assistant Chief Executive
ICM & Digitalisation
Enterprise Services & New Industries

Enterprise Singapore

Ms Chew Mok Lee is the Assistant Chief Executive in charge of ICM & Digitalisation, Enterprise Services & New Industries in Enterprise Singapore, a government agency spearheading enterprise and industry development, reporting to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore. Enterprise Singapore is also the national Standards body in Singapore.

Prior to Enterprise Singapore, Mok Lee was with National Productivity Board (NPB), PSB and SPRING Singapore. She graduated from National University of Singapore, majoring in Economics and Statistics. She has a double Masters and is well versed in the area of enterprise promotion, industry development and partnership building, having been involved in various aspects of capability development, support for local enterprises, enabling a viable enterprise eco-system and entrepreneurship for 29 years. She also served as Secretariat to the Action Community for Entrepreneurship and was responsible for working with the Minister in Charge of Entrepreneurship and private sector members to foster entrepreneurship and support start-ups in Singapore.

AWARD JUDGE

CHIA KIM HUAT

Regional Head
Corporate and Transactional Practice

Rajah & Tann Singapore

Mr Chia Kim Huat has extensive experience in capital market, public and private mergers and acquisitions, cross-border joint ventures and private equity investments, both in Singapore and the region. He travels regularly in the Asia-Pacific region advising clients on a wide range of matters, including direct investments and infrastructure projects in China, major acquisitions in Korea, joint ventures in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan and cross-border mergers and acquisitions transactions. Kim Huat also advises foreign investors on their investments in Singapore, including listings on the Singapore Exchange, privatisations, secondary and dual listings.

He has been recognised as a leading lawyer in his field by International Financial Law Review 1000, Chambers Global “Leaders in their Field”, Asia Pacific Legal 500, “Eminent Practitioner” in Chambers Asia Pacific, Who’s Who Legal: Corporate – Merger & Acquisition/Capital Markets – Debt and Equity and Merger & Acquisition, ‘Leading Lawyer’ in Asialaw Profiles and Best Lawyers, 2017 Edition.

AWARD JUDGE

TAN WEE BENG

Deputy Chief Executive (Operations)
SkillsFuture Singapore

Wee Beng is the Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) of SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG). He leads the Business Technology Group (Operations Planning Division, Capability Development Division, Operations & Support Division, Security & Infrastructure Division), the Training, Manpower & Infrastructure Group (Manpower & Infrastructure Planning Division, Office of Lifelong Learning, and Institute of Adult Learning which comprises Learning and Professional Development Division, Research and Innovation Division, Learning Services and Support Division ) as well as the Business Services Group (Shared Services Management, Integrated Business Services Division &, Corporate Services Division).

Prior to joining SSG, Wee Beng was an officer with the Singapore Armed Forces, leading both large and small teams. His last appointment was Chief-of-Staff, Republic of Singapore Navy, overseeing a range of staff departments and ground commands. Other key appointments held were Head Naval Operations, Commander of Maritime Security Task Force and Commander, Naval Diving Unit. Wee Beng holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in Physics from Oxford University, UK, and a Master of Science in Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.