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In this special column called the “TLC x Fempreneurs Series”, we will be featuring inspiring Female Entrepreneurs (Fempreneurs) in short. You will be able to have a sneak peek at their mindsets and their daily habits.

Believe in the power of community. On some days when you feel big goals are impossible, or when you feel like giving up, you need to lean on your like-minded community. You can even “borrow” motivation, and in turn “return” with your own inspiring stories to pay it forward.

 

Meet Mina Sunico-Chin (AltSchool)

 

TLC x Fempreneurs Series: Mina Sunico-Chin (AltSchool)

Fempreneur Mina Sunico-Chin and her children

 

Tell us a little about yourself. What is your business/ brand about?

I am originally from the Philippines, but Singapore has been my home since 2006. I started my career in magazine publishing, working with iconic titles like Female and Style in Singapore, as well as Mega Magazine back in the Philippines.

Along the way, I found my passion for digital marketing, which led me to start Hashtag Interactive (our digital marketing agency) with my business partner, now husband, Vincent, in 2012. After we had our two children and learned more about their special needs, we decided to put up AltSchool last year and officially opened our doors in January 2024.

 

What got you started on your business? 

AltSchool was born out of a deeply personal journey. As a mother to two special needs boys, I found myself navigating the complexities of the early intervention and early years education system firsthand.

When our first born Mason started showing signs of autism, we were advised by the doctor at the Child Development Unit (CDU) at NUH to start early intervention as soon as possible to help with his speech delay and social challenges. We tried everything with him: mainstream childcare and full day early intervention, in-centre therapy and home therapy, one-to-one and group therapy, and all kinds of therapies (ABA, speech, occupational, music etc). We have even cut out gluten and dairy, tried heavy metal detoxes, and experimented with other alternative therapies. Mason really helped to introduce us to the realities of the kinds of special needs care that are and aren’t available right now. The long waiting lists and room for improvement.

On the other hand, after over a year in childcare, our other son, Mackenzie, had not spoken in school and had a lot of anxiety issues. Once again we were referred to the CDU, where we were told that he is also suspected to be on the spectrum with social anxiety and selective mutism added to the mix.

Witnessing the challenges and limitations faced by children with diverse learning needs ignited a passion in me to create an option for my boys that could offer them the best of some of the services we had experienced. My entrepreneurial spirit kicked into high gear as my husband and I saw an opportunity to leverage innovation and the best practices we experienced to redefine early intervention.

 

Before you started your business, what did you do on a full-time basis?

Before diving into the world of entrepreneurship, I spent the earlier part of my career in magazine publishing. I had the opportunity to work with publications such as Female and Style in Singapore, as well as Mega Magazine in the Philippines. After almost a decade in fashion, I transitioned into marketing, working at a few companies and honing my marketing skills. This foundation laid the groundwork for my journey into entrepreneurship, where I’ve been able to apply my diverse skill set to build and grow ventures like Hashtag Interactive and AltSchool.

 

What were some difficulties you faced in your life and how did you overcome them?

Life has certainly thrown its share of challenges my way, but each obstacle has been a stepping stone in my journey of growth and resilience. When I first moved to Singapore, I arrived with little more than a suitcase and a dream. Adjusting to a new country was daunting, and there were moments of loneliness and uncertainty. However, I chose to embrace the culture wholeheartedly, immersing myself in the vibrant tapestry of Singaporean life. Over time, I forged deep connections, found my place in the community, and built a life filled with love and purpose. It’s where I met my husband, started a family, and laid down roots that run deep.

Another pivotal moment came when I found myself at a crossroads in my career, transitioning from publishing to marketing. Despite facing rejection and setbacks, I refused to be discouraged. I persisted, applying for countless jobs and seizing every opportunity to learn and grow. Looking back, I wish I had taken the chance to intern or pursue further education, but I made the most of every experience and focused on honing my skills. Eventually, my perseverance paid off, and I landed my first job in marketing. From there, I never looked back, diving headfirst into the world of digital marketing and entrepreneurship alongside my husband.

These challenges have taught me the importance of resilience, adaptability, and perseverance. They’ve shaped me into the person I am today: A determined entrepreneur, a loving wife and mother, and a lifelong learner committed to embracing every opportunity for growth.

 

TLC x Fempreneurs Series: Mina Sunico-Chin (AltSchool)

Co-Founders of AltSchool

 

Who inspires you?

I draw inspiration from a variety of sources, each contributing to my journey in unique and profound ways. Firstly, my children are my greatest inspiration. Witnessing their growth, curiosity, and resilience reminds me of the beauty of life’s journey and the boundless potential within each of us.

My husband, Vincent, is another source of inspiration. His unwavering dedication, visionary mindset, and strategic acumen constantly challenge me to think bigger and push the boundaries of what’s possible. I’m also deeply inspired by the incredible peopleI have the privilege of working with.

Our teams at AltSchool and Hashtag Interactive are comprised of talented, passionate individuals who continually amaze me with their creativity, expertise, and unwavering commitment to our shared visions. Their drive and determination to make a positive impact make me want to do better for them as well.

Last but certainly not least, my mother is a constant source of inspiration. As a successful leader in her own right, she has instilled in me the values of hard work, resilience, and integrity from a young age. Her unwavering support and encouragement have been instrumental in shaping my journey as an entrepreneur and a leader.

 

What excites you most about your industry?

What excites me most about the early intervention industry in Singapore is the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of children and families. Being part of a sector focused on supporting children with special needs and providing them with the tools and resources they need to thrive is incredibly rewarding. I’m inspired by the innovation and dedication within the industry, as well as the potential to drive positive change and create a more inclusive society.

Additionally, the collaborative nature of the early intervention field, where professionals from various disciplines come together to share knowledge and best practices, is both energising and inspiring. I never realised how much work our educators and therapists do behind the scenes until I was part of this industry myself. I salute all of these men and women who take up the challenge of helping me care for my children and others like them. Overall, I’m excited to be part of an industry that is continuously evolving and working towards improving outcomes for children and families across Singapore.

 

What is your vision / personal motto?

My vision is to design workplaces where every individual has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their background or circumstances. I aspire to build inclusive organisations where diversity is celebrated, innovation is embraced, and everyone has the support and resources they need to reach their full potential. Whether through my work at AltSchool or Hashtag Interactive, my goal is to make a positive impact by fostering environments that empower individuals and drive meaningful change.

 

TLC x Fempreneurs Series: Mina Sunico-Chin (AltSchool)

AltSchool

 

What have you learned recently that you hope the other ladies can take back?

As someone juggling multiple businesses, family responsibilities, and the never-ending to-do lists, I used to believe that working incessantly was the only path to success. For years, taking time off felt like a luxury I couldn’t afford, but I realised that this mindset was unsustainable and ultimately not good for my mental health.

Now, I’m learning to prioritise self-care and make time for activities that nourish my mind, body, and soul. Whether it’s waking up early for a workout, taking an extra five minutes to complete my skincare routine, indulging in moments of quiet reflection, or simply savouring a cup of coffee before the chaos of the day begins, these small moments of self-care have become non-negotiables in my routine. And let me tell you, it’s been transformative. So, to all the incredible women (especially mums) out there, remember to prioritise yourself amidst the hustle and bustle of life. You deserve it.

 

What do you do in your free time as self care? How do you unwind?

When I’m not working, you’ll find me exploring the great outdoors with my husband, two boys and two dogs (an 11 year old Singapore Special, Milkey and a 6 year old Labrador Retriever, Dougie). We’re big nature lovers, spending our free time in parks, on beaches, and hiking trails (when it’s not crazy hot like it is now).

On my own, I spend a lot of time reading and learning (GoodReads and Booktok are lowkey part of my personality). I’m a natural researcher and love pouring over books. I’m always on the lookout for new insights to fuel both my personal and professional growth. I come from a family of readers and we even have a biweekly book club where we read and discuss books from so many different genres. I love to cook. I even have an Instagram account dedicated to documenting my culinary experiments. I’ll go all out to make elaborate multicourse meals. I haven’t been updating it much lately, but when I get the time, cooking is another activity I like to do by myself or with my family.

 

How do you think you can help ladies to feel confident and empowered?

In my experience, helping ladies feel confident and empowered starts with providing them with the tools and support they need to recognize their own worth and potential. It’s about creating spaces where they feel heard, valued, and respected, and offering mentorship and guidance to help them navigate any challenges they may face.

I meet and work with a lot of women, and I’ve found that empowering them often begins with listening. By truly hearing their concerns and helping them uncover the answers they already know deep down, we can foster a sense of agency and self-assurance. While they may seek my opinion at times, I prioritise creating a safe space for them to express themselves openly, knowing that they can confide in me without judgement.

 

TLC x Fempreneurs Series: Mina Sunico-Chin (AltSchool)

AltSchool Brand Logo

 

What is one thing you are grateful for?

One thing I’m immensely grateful for is my husband, Vincent. He’s not just my Co-Founder and best friend, but also my unwavering support system. Vincent challenges me to reach higher and stands by me through every goal I set my mind to. His belief in me, especially during the planning of AltSchool, has been pivotal.

Even as I have been pursuing further studies in special education (an Advanced Certificate in Inclusive and Special Education from the College of Allied Educators and later this year starting to work towards my Masters at Newcastle), his unwavering encouragement and pragmatic support helps me fully focus on my goals. From providing food during intense study sessions to engaging in meaningful discussions about my coursework, his support has been a constant source of strength and inspiration in my journey. Plus I think he’s nice to look at. And his kids look like him. So it’s all good.

Let us know more about what you do!

AltSchool offers a 5-day a week early intervention programme for children with special needs that blends a multisensory experiential learning with integrated therapy. With small teacher-to-student ratios (1:4), individualised education plans, and integrated small ability-matched groups, we incorporate Montessori-inspired classroom learning to foster independence, creativity, and academic readiness.

You may also find us featured on HoneyKids Asia, Sassy Mama, and Best Singapore.

 

Connect with AltSchool

Website: https://altschool-int.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/altschoolinternational
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/altschoolinternational
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/altschoolinternational

Are you a Fempreneur too?

Connect with us – we’d love to feature you! Say hi to us at [email protected] or reach out to us via our social media.

 

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