Rena Kok was always interested in fashion, but never thought she would become a designer. Today, the 26-year-old owns her Ready-to-Wear label Rena Kok Collection and has even won several industry awards.
Rena Showcasing Her Runway Collection at the Harpers Bazaar NewGen Award.
Rena also works as a content and style creator for other brands.
“I was always interested in fashion and design, but I didn’t think it would become my career,” she said.
Rena had initially planned to apply to business or visual communications in Polytechnic.
It was her mother who encouraged her to apply for the Fashion Design course. “She wanted me to do something I had enthusiasm for,” Rena said. “I am really lucky to have parents who wanted that for me.”
Rena shared that she enjoyed her time in Polytechnic, where she learned about all the different aspects of fashion.
“I thought the concept of fashion is just designing. In school I got to explore all the other parts of it, like fashion photography, fashion writing, art direction and so on,” she said.
From there, Rena went on to study fashion design and textiles in Laselle College of the Arts.
The challenges of being an entrepreneur designer in Singapore
“As a small business owner, you have to do everything,” Rena mused.
One of the biggest challenges she – and many other small business owners – has is time.
“I work as a full time stylist and only have time to continue with my tasks after working hours,” she said.
Another struggle is keeping costs and pricing as low as possible, while delivering her vision.
“Everything’s produced locally, so it can get quite costly,” she explained. This is also why Rena was so excited about her collaboration with Shein – it gives her the chance to create clothes at a more affordable price point.
“There are also certain things I really wish I can outsource… admin stuff like setting up bank accounts or even marketing… so I can focus on creating,” she said.
Today, her parents continue to support her business by helping with logistics and operations as much as they can.
This gives Rena some extra time to tap into her creative juices, but the entrepreneur still looks forward to the day she can expand her team so she can focus solely on her fashion creations.
Fashion is typically all about exclusivity, but for Rena, it’s the opposite. Her goal as a fashion designer is to create clothes that enhance the female silhouette and are also comfortable to wear. She wants this to be accessible to more women, and is constantly striving to put out collections that are more inclusive.
“Right now, the majority of my customers are 25 years old and up… I attract this audience not because of the style but because of the price point. Since everything is designed locally and so intricate, the costs tend to be a little higher,” she said. “I am always looking for ways to reach out to a wider audience, so more women can enjoy my clothes.”
Rena also likes to experiment with textiles and fabrics to bring a different edge to her clothes, while keeping them wearable.
Rena’s Collection for the Swarovski Innovation Award
Pandemic changing the fashion landscape
Rena loves how fashion reflects the times, and feels that the pandemic has actually “changed the (fashion scene) for the better.”
For example, people now blend different styles together. “It doesn’t have to look too street or too put together,” she said.
She’s also bringing this to life in her upcoming Chinese New Year collection. “One of the pieces I’m most excited for is a mix between a formal shirt and a cropped hoodie,” she shared.
“Lots of high fashion brands now incorporate street wear, and this shift has influenced a new generation of girls and the way we dress,” she said. “I’m excited to see where fashion takes us, and to continue to create more wearable but interesting pieces for my audience.”
Check out more from sector.sg