THE BRAND AND HOW IT ALL STARTED
I’m from Singapore and although I loved art and design as a young girl, I ended up having to concentrate on studies as that is the cultural norm in Singapore. After University, I joined the corporate world in the area of Human Resource and over ten years, was quite successful at that reaching Asia Pacific Head of HR for several large multinational companies in management consulting, industrial minerals and information technology. Life was steady but then I had an epiphany last year in between jobs where I was challenged by a friend to think of something more … like being your own boss! I was intrigued by the idea and thought I would give it a shot but I knew it would have to be something I was passionate in and I knew I wanted to go back to my earlier interest in fashion and design.
I’ve also been a very avid world traveler, often solo, to many parts of Europe, Asia and even Africa. What I found was that backpacks were either very functional (like camera bags) or they were very pretty but just one big compartment which I could never easily find what I dumped in there. Also in my previous corporate roles, I ended up having to carry multiple bags on business travels or transit from office to gym to drinks. Hence, I wanted to tackle the idea of a product that women would find very attractive with its minimalist styling yet also have features that are very functional and assist to organise. We took this idea to form our flagship Utoppii Collage Bag for the “girl going places”. We want to be a little quirky also, hence, our tagline “Life is beautiful, but it can also be a beautiful mess”. We use the concept of collages to illustrate this and our Collage Bag is modular so that you can add in components like a small bag or laptop carrier as and when you need to and not look out of place in the office, gym or even as a fashionable mum. Since everyone is unique, we also bring in the idea of really high quality patches you can change around on the bag face without damaging it, to suit your mood and what you want to say about yourself. You create your own beautiful collage! Just like in life, our journey is a collage made of many different experiences and everyone is uniquely different.
Besides simply selling a great product, we have another objective of wanting to inspire women. When I was in primary school, my mother gave me my first bag and I was so proud of it. It was like a big transition step up in my life and I treasured that bag for what it stood for and all the stories that it contained as it accompanied me during my growing up days. So a bag is more than just a sac, there is always this one bag that contains memories and experiences. I have since been really blessed and I want to do something that gives back to others. The name Utoppii is a word play on “utopia” which is seeking a perfect place. For me that is a world where we can be inspired to dream dreams and reach them, a world free of cruelty (hence we only use vegan leather) and a world where we give back to the less fortunate. Sounds idealistic doesn’t it … but that’s what I really believe in and want to make happen. We intend to work with inspirational people to support them in their work and our first ambassador in this respect is Annabelle Chauncey OAM. She was in her 20’s when she started School For Life which builds schools and teaching programs for children in Uganda. When I met Annabelle in Sydney, I was truly awestruck by what she had done in so little time and I can say I am truly inspired by her. Many companies do this kind of thing as CSR but we want to make it really count and bring these stories regularly to our followers to inspire them.
SELECTED CONTENT CREATORS
I have selected Zuzu, Jess Stevens, Grace Ireland and Charissa. All of them came across as authentic, genuine and fit into the target audience:
- Girlboss (Zuzu – minimalist, girlboss style and believes in our ethos of being eco conscious)
- Active/ Fitness girl (Grace – has a great story to tell on her days of being anorexic and have since inspired others with her new healthy lifestyle)
- Mom (Jess Stevens – pretty amazing mom of 4 who also runs her own decor company)
- All rounder (Charrisa – seems very down to earth, great vibes and engaging content)
These content creators need to be willing to engage with us, rather than being transactional and totally commercial, and we build a relationship and a community around the brand.
WHAT’s NEXT FOR THE BRAND?
We’re literally starting from zero and its been a tremendous experience that takes a lot of determination just to reach this point of having our first flagship product in the Australian market now. I chose to launch here even though I’m from Singapore because I love the freedom and nature that Australia has and its a place where new brands can be appreciated. Singapore and Australia also have a great relationship and I have some really good friends here. Once we can get a modest following from the market and introduce more products, we think that would be a great platform to expand globally and bring our story and products to the world. But first thing’s first and our focus right now is Australia with a little bit of Singapore. There have been some great Australian brand success stories in the past and we want to become the next big one. As for products, we have other bag ideas we would like to launch down the road for the “girl that’s going places” and we would also like to bring a range of functional and beautiful accessories too.
WHERE CAN THEY CONNECT WITH YOU?
You can get in touch with us via https://www.instagram.com/utoppii/ for business matters and also my own Instagram, @trixiethye where I share about my travels, my boys (a super cute pair of West Highland Terriers) and life interests. Just leave a comment and I’ll reach out! I’m also reachable by email to “[email protected]”.