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 Monica Millington (Tropick)
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur and have been dreaming about owning my own business since I was a kid. I actually learned how to make handbags when I was 12 and sold them to my friends at school, so having my own clothing brand now feels very serendipitous at times.
I am also a total romantic at heart, which is fitting because a whirlwind romance is what brought me out to my new home, Singapore. Living a cosmopolitan life in a tropical country is what inspired me to create Tropick and reimagine classic menswear staples with performance fabrics appropriate for the heat, humidity, and resulting sweat of the tropics. My goal is to expand our product offering to be a complete lifestyle brand that elevates fashion on the equator. This business is what got me noticed and selected to compete on the hit reality series, The Apprentice ONE Championship Edition, the toughest Apprentice ever, where I made it to the Top 4!
What got you started on your business?
I come from a family of real estate entrepreneurs back in Texas. My parents fostered a sense of curiosity in me at a young age, and I was always asked what I wanted to do– never told what I should do– which turned me into a big-time dreamer with a make-it-happen kind of work ethic. Because of my parents’ support, I had the confidence to try (and fail) many times at my first few businesses.
The idea to start Tropick was sparked when I moved from Texas to Singapore to be with my husband in 2017 and we were always both so sweaty after our commute to our offices together. Even living in the tropics, there was no type of clothing available that could address the perpetually tropical climate and still look appropriate in work settings. Men typically have fewer options when shopping, and when I couldn’t find an existing solution for him, I decided to make clothes that could outlast the tropics for all men– and after a year of researching and prototyping (a phase I like to call my “startup MBA”)– Tropick was born.
Before you started on your business, what did you do on a full-time basis?
I graduated with a degree in business and communications and grew to become very passionate about marketing and understanding the psyche behind how people communicate perceive the world. I kicked off my early career in media, working for a notable wedding magazine in Dallas, Texas. My experience in the Weddings sector paired with my obsession with detail and organization led me to start my own event planning company before moving out to Singapore. Once I had a taste of the entrepreneur life, I always knew I wanted my own company again but moving to the other side of the world with little understanding of the local culture, I knew I needed to work in corporate marketing for a spell to gain more insight to the market out there.
What were some difficulties you faced in your life and how did you overcome them?
While I am deliriously happy with where I am and where I’m headed today, I had to go through a dark period before reaching the light. I got married relatively young, and after a short, strained marriage, I subsequently got divorced at a young age. I remember crying every day for a year with no direction and no light at the end of the tunnel. On my next birthday, I remember waking up, dry-eyed and peaceful, and decided I was done feeling sorry for myself and was going to become a woman of action. With practice, I shifted my mindset from looking for negatives to seeing the silver linings. I said yes to things that scared me, and I decided that the only person who could give me worth and confidence was myself. I am so grateful for the tough times because that season of life is what molded me into the woman I am today.
Who inspires you?
You don’t know her, but you should. My mom, Stacey, is someone that blows me away every day. She manages to possess the grace of Audrey Hepburn, the friendliness of a puppy, the business know-how of Oprah, and the strength of a rock. All this, and she still finds a way to wake up and look gorgeous every single day. She reminds me that its possible to be successful and prioritize the things that really matter in life, like family and faith.
What excites you most about your industry?
I am most excited and motivated by the space for opportunity in menswear. We are also in this new era of life where we are learning how to live and dress post-pandemic. I love getting to rock the boat and create things that haven’t been created before, and right now it feels like the world is my oyster.
What is your vision / personal motto?
My personal motto is “Why not me?” When I see people doing big things, I think, why couldn’t I do that? Who says I can’t be a fashion designer or own my own company? Everybody has to start somewhere and our journey is what we make it. With hard work, dedication, grit, and passion I believe that we can achieve whatever we set our minds to. This mindset helps me to remember to dream big and aim high!
Do you have any word of advice for other ladies who are starting their business/ starting to pursue their dream?
Success stories are not really stories of success, but of people who are just really good at moving through failures. The biggest lesson I have learned from starting up my own business and being on The Apprentice is that you just need to keep moving forward, even if you trip and fall every once in a while. Remember that two steps forward is always better than one step backward! Running a business is a whole lot of learning on the job, and you get stronger and make corrections as you go- you don’t need to be perfect to get started.
How do you think you can help ladies to feel confident and empowered?
Don’t be afraid to be yourself and shine and never think that shining too brightly is wrong. When I was younger. I remember being scared to wear or do anything that made too much of a statement because I might make a mistake or fail and people would judge me for it. Now, being uniquely me is my biggest asset and I try to lean into it. No one of any influence or success followed the rules or did what everyone else was doing. The status quo is so boring anyway.
What have you learnt recently that you hope the other ladies can take back?
You are capable of so much more than you think. I believe in the 40% Theory that states that when your mind is telling you that you’re done, that you cannot possibly go any further, you’re only actually 40% done. This reminds me that no matter how exhausted or depleted we might feel, its always horrible to draw on an untapped reserve of motivation. I saw this firsthand when I was training for marathons and hitting distances I never thought possible when I was competing on The Apprentice and getting 2 hours of sleep a night for weeks, and see it today in my business.
What is one thing you are grateful for?
I am grateful for my female friendships I have had the honour of forming during my time here in Singapore. My core friends are my tribe, my support system, and my cheerleaders who help give me the confidence to take on the world. Seeing women supporting women firsthand every day inspires me to be a voice of encouragement for other women looking to take control of their own lives, live their dreams, and start up their own businesses.
What do you do in your free time as self-care? How do you unwind?
As an entrepreneur (and an over-thinker), I tend to get stressed when I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything but I totally recognize the need for balance to avoid burnout and maintain my passion for what I do. I was never a runner before, but over the past year and a half running has become my therapy and is the most surefire way to clear my mind, give me a boost of energy, and– I never thought I’d say this– put a smile on my face. I know this is the most annoying thing ever to say but there is nothing like a post-run high to chill you out!
Let us know more about what you do!
Designed in Singapore and responsibly made out of premium performance fabrics, Tropick is disrupting the menswear game with wardrobe staples built for life in the tropics. We craft our garments with the environment while also giving back to ocean conservation efforts. Our mission is to do great clothing and business, better.
You may find us been featured in Esquire, Buro, Tatler, L’Officiel, The Edge, Vulcan Post, Variety, and Singapore Brides.
Connect with Tropick!
One winner can stand a chance to win a Take It Breezy shirt valued at $198! Head over to The Ladies Cue Instagram to participate!
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.
Read TLC x Fempreneur Series:
- Alverna Cher, City Funeral Singapore
- Pearline Foo, Spring Breeze Marketing
- Evangeline Leong, Kobe
- Maddy Barber, Madly Gems
- Ezza Yusof, 2morrow Official (Malaysia)
- Julie Yim, Lilin+Co (Malaysia)
- Nadia, HelloBello (Malaysia)
- Zairin Azman, UMMA (Malaysia)
- Farrah Rahman, Hellokraf (Malaysia)
The rest of the Fempreneur interviews can be found here.