In conversation with Singer-Songwriter Ming Bridges. This #girlboss has recently added the title of CEO to her belt too! With her sustainability themed fashion rental company Rentadella, Ming strives to empower women to be comfortable n their own skins.
What are you busy with? What is your typical day like?
Rentadella from dawn till dusk! I’m a one-woman show so my everyday includes: creating social media content, looking for marketing opportunities, running in and out of meetings, seeing clients, dry cleaning & fixing dresses, packing and sending out dresses, answering calls and customer service emails, brain storming ads, checking statistics and constantly tidying up the showroom! I’m also my own model and photographer.
We’re still in our very early stages and I’m hoping to one day hire a team so I can start to focus on areas I thrive in and be able to resume other life activities. Starting up Rentadella has forced me to grow, become comfortable with being uncomfortable and learn things I previously didn’t know how to do.
How do you hope to empower other women with the brand you've founded - Rentadella?
Fast fashion has been declared an “environmental emergency” by the U.N and is the second largest pollutant in the world. Buying cheap low quality clothing that only gets worn a few times is a waste of money, materials and also, doesn’t even fit that great.
I hope I can create a community of savvy, powerful women who want to wear QUALITY clothing, for LESS money, while also SAVING the world. I also find that many boutiques in Singapore don’t carry larger sizes, which is why Rentadella carry sizes UK4 - UK18, and soon expanding to UK20. We want to be a store filled with dresses women wear and feel like, “Wow, I can conquer the world in this.”
Did you ever have to deal with identity issues - and any other subconscious biases from others in and out of the industry?
People don’t recognise me when they come to Rentadella - it’s usually after they leave that I get sent a message like, “You should have told me you were Ming Bridges! I would have taken a photo with you!” And I’m like, what do you mean! I guess people don’t expect to see me doing what I’m doing.
The main identity issues I have are within myself - I’ve been in the entertainment industry since I was 13 years old and started up Rentadella at 25. It was hard to tell myself I could be anything else other than a singer/songwriter or an actress but I’ve always wanted to be a boss and have my own business. I’m glad I took the leap to try and create a business that I’m passionate about.
What are some of the values you and/or your brand go by?
A new motto of mine is “Do no harm, but take no shit.” It’s something I’m trying to apply in both my life and work. I pride myself in being a kind person and sometimes, people take advantage of that. This was something I knew I had to change when it started happening with my business. I shower my customers with love, help and assistance but also have policies put into place to protect my business when clients decide not to respect it. This has been a big challenge for me, learning to stand up for myself but I realise now that the more I respect myself and my business, the more other people will as well.
What are some of the challenges with being so busy?
BEING ON MY PHONE ALL THE TIME! You can’t turn it off because customers and clients are calling you 24/7 and as a start-up, you’ve got to be ON IT in case of any emergencies.
I also fell into the trap of saying yes to every opportunity and would spread myself too thin. You get so many emails with people asking for sponsorships, event collaborations, freebies, new ideas for you - I started to have the FOMO (fear of missing out). I now realise that for my business to work and grow, I should not be afraid to say no to 90% of things and instead, focus on the 10% that are important and needed to get Rentadella to the next level. You also need time to rest to be able to take care of yourself and keep motivation levels up.
Lastly, you have to be ok with sacrificing your social life. A start-up is not a 9 to 5 job, it is a 24/7 job. I would try and make social events and then realise that I didn’t have time and would feel like I was letting people down. But as they say, if it were easy, everyone would do it. You’ve got to hustle and be ok with being different if you want to make something different.
What tools do you use to support your day-to-day routines?
- icalendar - I have to icalendar everything I need to do to make sure it gets done (I’m also super forgetful!)
- Learning to tell people what I need - If I can’t do something. If I need emotional support. You’ve got to be really open and realistic about what you can and can’t do in a day.
- Timer - I try and time my activities to limit procrastination.
- Lash extensions & concealer - The lash extensions save me from having to put makeup on and the concealer covers my eye bags!
- Stretching & water breaks - relieves tension. Big must throughout the day for me.
As a thought leader, CEO and musician, how do you hope to positively impact the broader community to be healthier mentally, physically, emotionally, socially?
I’m hoping to lead by example. Social media is such a powerful tool, filled with tons of women who seem to be killing it in every aspect of their lives. In reality, you often don’t see what’s really going on behind the screens. It’s easy to portray a lifestyle of someone who seems happy working out 24/7, who barely eats anything, who is madly in love and who has all the best friends in the world. I once fell for that and ended up being the most miserable I had ever been in my life - but then did the same thing with my social media account to make it seem like I was the happiest.
People ask me all the time how I’ve lost weight and they go through the whole list: “Did you cut out carbs? What exercise are you doing? You must be eating dinner very early. How many calories are you eating? Is it cause you do HIIT?” and I tell them that it’s when I stopped dieting and started to eat normally that I became HAPPY. And when I was happy, I moved on to doing things that made me feel good.
I’ve found the best way (for me) to impact the broader community to be healthier is by sharing my discoveries and my journey on social media, hopefully reminding girls that IT’S OK TO BE NORMAL. It’s ok to have rolls. It’s ok to be socially awkward. It’s ok. We put so much stress on being great when we are all already good enough. Learning techniques like meditating and working out with the intention of feeling good instead of looking good helps us grow towards a healthier lifestyle without being sucked into the stress of perfection.
What does being healthy mean to you?
Being healthy means FEELING healthy. The number one thing for me is watching my stress level, which is quite hard when running a start-up. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding of what being “healthy” is, as it’s very different for everyone. Trying to diet or “be skinny” is the opposite of being healthy because not eating enough adds stress to the body. Because my mind is constantly thinking, I try to make life easier by making sure my body isn't stressed as well.
What do you do to maintain a healthy mind & body?
I don’t drink coffee and alcohol. They’re a hard no for me, especially coffee. When I’m working, just having a little bit gives me the worst anxiety. I also try and limit my dairy & gluten intake so that my body has less to deal with.
My body is very sensitive to stress - especially when I’m working. When I'm on holiday I can climb mountains and play tennis with no problem at all, but when I’m at work I can’t do as much. I stay healthy by going on short walks and doing a bit of yoga but nothing too strenuous. I also make sure I don’t miss meals and I have snacks on hand to keep me going. You’ll rarely find me without a pack of almonds in my handbag because I never know when the hunger is going to hit!
I’m also trying to get into meditation. I really enjoy exercise and want to try reducing my mental stress so that I can do more of the things I love. But my brain is crazy and loves to overthink so instead of battling it and trying to do too much, I relax on my workout schedule when I’m very busy and make sure I get rest when I can. Sleep and water is very important.
What are 3 simple steps individuals can take to kickstart or sustain a healthy lifestyle?
- Get off your phone as much as you can.
- Eat three full meals a day of proteins, carbs and fats.
- Reduce your sugar intake (I’m all for yummy deserts but it’s not part of my day to day because it sucks all your energy away - I eat bananas instead).
What is the biggest realization that has impacted your life recently?
That we’re all going to die. I know it’s a morbid one, but it really helps put things into perspective for me. I’m a big worrier but it reminds me that there’s not really any point to worrying. We are just a small dot in this big universe - we might as well make the most of our time here. Nothing really matters much in the grand scheme of things. Stop worrying and start doing!
Who or what drives you and continues to inspire you to grow & push boundaries?
I want to do things that I can one day tell my children and grandchildren about. Is that weird? When I’m 80 years old, I want to tell them stories about how I built things, had them fall apart, and then tried again. I want to show them all the adventures I went on, the things I created and people I helped.
I do a lot of eating disorder work through my social media account and getting positive messages from girls I’ve helped always makes me cry and want to do more. When I was ill, I never thought I’d get better and the fact I can now be truly well and help others who are in the same place as I once was is a miracle to me. I also constantly think back to when I was a little girl, with the world ahead of me, head bursting with ideas of what I want to do with my life. I want to make her proud.
Credit: Images by Zack Dilaroca
Who or what supports YOU in your day to day busy routines? Where do you get your inspiration from? Share with us! [email protected].