This month, we’re celebrating the successes of savvy expatriates and Singaporeans, as well as the setbacks they overcame, to make life better in Singapore in our Expatpreneur Awards 2017.
Canadian expat Marra Hensby moved to Singapore in 2012 as a trailing spouse.
In 2015, she started My Pure Earth to sell chemical-free products and teach DIY classes.
Find out how she did it below (and find out how we picked the awardees here)!
Marra’s first business venture – a clothing company at age 14 – was short-lived. “I didn’t know anything about fashion or even how to sew!” she recalls.
Even with her current venture, she was “[her] own biggest challenge,” admits Marra, who worked in environmental management and earned a master’s in the same field from the National University of Singapore. “It took me a while to work up the courage to go out on my own.”
“Everything I’ve done in my personal and professional life has given me the skills and tools to be a strong environmental advocate,” explains Marra. “My experience has taught me how to look at environmental and social challenges and find solutions that not only benefit everyone involved, but that people can get excited about!”
Today, her passion for My Pure Earth is one of the first things people comment on.
To start, Marra began offering My Pure Earth workshops at her home, teaching participants – a good number of whom were expatriates and their helpers – to create natural cleaning and personal care products so they could live a lifestyle with fewer chemicals. “I love inspiring customers to make a positive change,” she explains.
It didn’t take long for her to realise that many commonly used products could be replaced with ones that contain essential oils. She began sourcing for high-quality oils to use in her workshops but struggled to find a brand that was 100-percent pure or that shared her values for the environment and ethical labour.
Success didn’t come easy, though: Marra spent a lot of time figuring out her supply chain, reaching out to farmers and artisans from around the world who shared the same set of values, and more.
A whole year later, she had successfully created her very own brand of ethically sourced, 100-percent pure oils that are also pesticide- and chemical-free. (Check it out here!)
One of Marra’s biggest successes? “Getting people thinking and talking about what is in the products that they bring into their homes,” she says.
“I have had so many people tell me that they had never really thought about these things before My Pure Earth came along. Or that they had thought about it but weren’t really sure what to do about it. I love inspiring my customers to make a positive change in their daily lives.”
Today, My Pure Earth sells more than 30 types of essential oils, as well as other useful accessories and products in her online store, selected yoga studios, health centers and retail locations.
Marra still holds workshops, too, and spends months designing each one. “Once I find a new topic, I start testing recipes to find the perfect mix, write course books and then do a few free test workshops before launching it,” she says.
And she certainly deserves to savour her success. “Being an expatpreneur gives me the flexibility to spend more time with friends and family while allowing me to travel. I can’t imagine ever going back to the 9-5.”
By Sara Lyle Bow, The Finder (Issue 280), March 2017
Like this? Read more expatpreneur stories here,