In celebration of International Women’s Day, we speak to three amazing women leaders who have chosen to pave their career path with passion, hard work and perseverance to arrive at where they are now – challenged, fulfilled, and happy.
We speak to Nadine Wu, the first on our speak-to-list, who happens to be the leader of The Outsiders Co. (TOC, for short). A rebel with a penchant for dissecting, scrutinising, critiquing and reinforcing anything that intrigues her, Nadine found her calling in the creative industry, set up a branding and design agency – and just like that, The Outsiders Co. was born.
Five years ago, Nadine stumbled upon her interest in branding in the midst of crafting proposals for random business ideas. From designing brand identities to formulating marketing strategies, she discovered a true passion for bringing businesses to life through planned, go-to-market strategies and functional design.
“Good design, I feel, is something that sets you apart. It helps you look professional and gain credibility,” Nadine explains.
In an Internet age where information has become so widely available and accessible to consumers, good design not only differentiates brands but also effectively persuades consumers to choose one brand over another.
Branding is something that needs to endure and thrive in an extremely callous environment.
Nadine’s keen interest in branding has a lot to do with its challenging nature. She likens the process of helping small start-ups and businesses find their identity and voice within saturated markets to “championing the underdog”; and feels not only fulfilled but also motivated whenever she works with clients who are as passionate about their business as she is with hers.
A go-getter who sets her sights on the bigger picture and end-goal in every endeavour she undertakes, Nadine realises that branding and design is proving to be just the kind of challenge and gratification she’s been seeking since she started her career.
Assembling The Outsiders Co.
Starting the business as a one-man, bootstrapped entrepreneur was no easy feat. Nadine recalls that the lack of resources kept many opportunities out of reach. With no one to lean on, she experienced many moments of self-doubt.
“It had actually come to a point where somehow or rather, accepting my shortcomings was a lot easier than recognising my strengths.”
With that realisation, Nadine set about finding “a partner who not only complemented the needs of the business, but also filled skill or knowledge gaps”. This was a crucial step as it gave her the assurance and support she did not have at the beginning. She also shared that the guidance from mentors and coaches she reconnected with helped a lot in her understanding of the industry. “It’s really interesting how you can find mentors in just about anyone. There are simply so many people that are willing to share valuable experience, if you only bother to ask.”
Nadine happily reveals that TOC has expanded to a team of eight, consisting of young-bloods as well as industry-experienced individuals — a good mix to bring fresh perspectives to the table.
Building meaningful and functional brands
Moving forward, Nadine hopes to see TOC take on a life of its own — “building meaningful, functional brands through effective design and storytelling”. More importantly, she wants to inculcate in her team values that they can take with them throughout their career and beyond — to be resourceful, enlightened, bold, effective and limitless – REBEL for short. Being a REBEL is certainly very fitting for such a bold and quirky brand like TOC!
To aspiring business owners – Keep your eye on the prize
“Trust your gut and go with the flow”, Nadine says. While intuition is important, she also highlights the necessity of doing adequate research and sticking to a plan to keep you on track. Also, having a “tireless cheerleader” like an optimistic business partner who can give that little push really helps her to keep going when times are tough. “You just have to know where you want to be and keep your eye on the prize”. TOC