LIVLOLA banks on community spirit, holistic living and time-saving solutions

Heidi and Sim Li Aw, sisters who built up homegrown activewear brand LIVLOLA. Photo: LIVLOLA

Platform that helps women achieve holistic wellness wherever they are, whenever they want, without breaking the bank, what LIVLOLA is all about.

IF you happen to chance upon LIVLOLA’s website, you might think you’re at an international shop for activewear. Truth be told, however, the brand was born much closer to home. Designed with love from sunny Kuala Lumpur, each LIVLOLA piece – proudly asserts – is thoughtfully crafted to address a consumer’s every need. The brand’s activewear, loungewear and fitness essentials are all crafted in-house by sisters and founders Sim Li and Heidi Aw.

“We are both fitness and wellness enthusiasts and have always wanted to create and build an ecosystem that encompasses fitness and holistic wellness offerings to help a community of like-minded women,” says Sim Li, Chief Marketing Officer & Co-founder of LIVLOLA.

“In 2016, our mid-20s, experiences from our previous full-time jobs we felt it was the right time to build something of our own together. We decided to launch a brand that would speak of our interests and represent what we stand for – empowering women to lead fit, healthy, holistic lifestyle via stylish athleisurewear fitness gear fitness events and classes that are affordable and easily accessible.”

Indeed, one of LIVLOLA’s business milestones thus far has been the ideation and creation of its “LIV OUT LOUD Experience”.

Sim Li shares: “It is a half-day fitness and wellness event that we have for two years consecutively and we want to continue an annual event. The purpose is to create a safe space celebrating women in fitness and to empower local businesses.”

The sisters have always believed that women could and should live out loud in all aspects of their lives and this can be achieved when there is a healthy balance between their physical, mental, and social well-being.

“We want LIVLOLA to be the go-to space offering support when women think of wanting to achieve their potential of who they could evolve into in the aspect of their physical, mental, and social well-being,” Sim Li says.

Another milestone, according to the young CMO, was the launch of LIVLOLA’s first eco sustainable activewear collection in January this year.

“We are increasing our efforts towards sustainable and renewable practices and hoping to grow the level of environment awareness within our community. Ultimately, we care about the health of the environment that we live and operate in, together with the health of the individuals within the community around us,” Sim Li adds. An example of LIVLOLA’s efforts in building an environmentally sustainable brand, is how the activewear business has partnered with US-based non-profit organisation, 8 Billion Trees, through which a portion of LIVLOLA’s profits goes towards planting trees in seven different countries globally. LIVLOLA also makes clothes out of recycled nylon and fishing nets and packs its deliveries in compostable packaging made of corn starch.

“We realise more and more the detrimental impacts of ‘fast fashion’ both on the environment, including pollution and depletion of non-renewable sources along with its social impacts, such as labour and discrimination. We want to do what's right, and we want to be in this for the long run. Hence, we felt that going the sustainable, environmentally and socially conscious route via our offerings and business operations are the fundamental first steps to being accountable for our actions towards the environment.”

Heidi, Chief Operations Officer & Co-founder of LIVLOLA, chimes in saying that the best thing about their job is that they get to build a community of like-minded people and help them achieve their fitness and wellness goals.

“Our target audience is women who are actively seeking to improve their overall well-being through fitness and self-awareness,” she says, adding: “We’re happy to learn that many regard us as a holistic wellness homegrown brand.”

While they do not have a physical store at the moment, LIVLOLA does have office space, where the team. Heidi says: “We find that we operate best with a leaner team. We currently have four full-time employees, but we also external on a project basis to support.”

Working together is fun for the Aw siblings, who have outsourced the nitty gritty accounting tasks to Xero, which has eased their burdens and stresses of keeping the books in order. Photo: LIVLOLAWorking together is fun for the Aw siblings, who have outsourced the nitty gritty accounting tasks to Xero, which has eased their burdens and stresses of keeping the books in order. Photo: LIVLOLA

Sisters doing it for themselves

The sisters working together is great. “We understand each other very well when we are a business together,” Sim Li says. “We both value open communication and are each other’s sounding board when it comes to making key decisions for the business. We also rely on each other’s strengths at work and fully trust each other.”

The sisters do admit, however, that there are times at work where their opinions have not aligned, especially in the early days.

“We both and find it to put in the effort and time to resolve any misalignments to iron things out,” Heidi says. “Another minor challenge we face right now is that we are physically. Sim Li is based in Singapore, and I am in Malaysia, so meetings are mostly virtual ... nothing beats face-to-face interactions!

The Aw siblings say that the biggest challenges they faced during were the uncertainties and impacts that followed, including issues surrounding production in China as well as international shipments, which resulted in delays in production and increased costs.

Another business challenge the siblings encountered was during the first nationwide movement control order announced back in March 2020. Sim Li shares: “Just days before the MCO, we organised our first and largest event ‘LIV OUT LOUD 2020 Experience’ for which we successfully sign-ups from over 200 participants.

“However, due to the uncertainties of Covid-19, and the fear that came with it, we had to adhere to government SOPs at very short notice by to ensure that the space was safe for all to use. We also faced multiple last-minute cancellations from participants. Our team was under immense pressure, but we decided to and a successful event at the end of the day. We’re glad that everyone had a good time and felt comfortable and safe during the event.”

Time saving solutions

When it comes to what goes on behind the scenes and all the number crunching, LIVLOLA runs its business with Xero's cloud accounting platform. Having to deal with the creative side of designing the activewear as well as carrying out their mission to build an environmentally sustainable brand and promote holistic living, Sim Li and Heidi have little time for tedious admin work, tracking cash flows or sending out invoices. Turning to Xero’s all-in-one software platform seemed like an easy and intelligent choice, which is exactly what the ladies did.

“We love how it is very user-friendly and seamless. We love its ability to connect with different payment gateways and how it enables us to access updated financial reports,” Heidi explains, adding that connecting with different payment gateways allows them to better track their revenue flow. “We can also attach supporting documents to all of our bills, and this really helps ease our audit process.”

Heidi says that using Xero has saved LIVLOLA 80% of time on accounting the hassle of tracking and organising bills, allowing them to on pursuing their vision. “Xero gives us the ability to work more efficientlyand not have to worry too much about manual operational tasks. This gives us more headspace and time to work on our business plans. Getting our financial reports easily via Xero is also very useful when it comes to future planning for growth.”

For 2022, LIVLOLA hopes to continue to grow and strengthen its community. Like it says on its website: “Each time you make a purchase from LIVLOLA, our team does a little dance. No matter how big or small, every purchase makes a difference!”

For more information about Xero, click here.

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