Even Semun Ho had to admit that she was an unexpected candidate when she decided to join the Textile and Fashion Federation (TaFF) as CEO a little more than three years ago. A veteran of the technology industry, she came on board with no background in fashion.
But sometimes, the unexpected candidate for a job could just be the right one, as Ho has since proven. “I have always liked consumer products,” she says. “I was the regional head for Motorola accessory products for more than two years and was doing regional product planning and marketing for mobile phones for eight years. All the experiences that I had gathered have helped me in my current role.”
What Ho has brought to the table at TaFF is an approach to growth that is more common in the technology start-up world. Under her leadership, TaFF established The Cocoon Space, a co-working space of sorts for fashion start-ups. Here, entrepreneurs can rent workstations, industrial-grade sewing machines and an event space for presenting their new collections. It’s also a place where a community spirit is fostered, with networking for members and programmes such as The Bridge Fashion Incubator, a 30-week mentorship to help jumpstart their businesses.
Ho is thankful for the organisation’s openness to change and its willingness to embrace technology, both of which she sees as essential to success in today’s world. “TaFF is a very established organisation, yet one that is still willing to evolve and do what’s needed to transform,” she says. Through her work, she hopes to keep at bay – at least in the fashion industry – one of her biggest worries for the local business environment. “That Singapore loses its competitive edge and that we, as Singaporeans, are not hungry enough.”