1. What activities did you take part in while studying Banking and Finance in NTU?
I was primarily involved in the NTU investment interactive club (IIC), where I took on the role of the president. I led a team of 23 executive committee members and 221 subcommittee members, initiating events for 4915 IIC members to develop their soft skills and hone their technical skills. We also successfully clinched over S$63,000 of sponsorship from Barclays, Bloomberg, Unilever and National Youth Council.
Initially, I was involved with hall activities in the first year, but I struggled to cope, so I decided to drop all my hall activities and focus solely on IIC.
2. What is your greatest takeaway from your education years?
For someone who did not want to go to university, I took away a surprising amount of learnings, mostly from my experience leading IIC (sneak peek into corporate life). Hall life was great fun: I stayed there throughout university, learning to be independent, and enjoyed the social life there too. My overseas exchange experience in Germany opened my eyes to the world, my passion for travel and learning of cultures. Lastly, I met my first boyfriend whom I had a 10-year relationship with.
Additionally, I started working many jobs since 16 and accumulated a wealth of real-world experiences from my different endeavours, such as being more street-smart and learning survival skills in life that may not be taught in the confines of a classroom.
3. What inspired you to start Apogee Collective? What was the inspiration behind the name?
I started Good Vibes (previously known name) during the COVID-19 pandemic out of a passion project to solve my own struggle of finding good quality value-for-money sex toys (as I usually shop overseas) and honestly out of the fun of it, as at that time, I had just left my corporate job. But when I started learning more about the industry, the more I realised that there are many social issues that I would like to raise awareness for. That was when I decided to change my mindset from a passion project to making a career of this. Some examples of these social issues include:
a. the orgasm gap (where straight women are a lot less likely to orgasm as compared to straight men and even lesbians) and empowering women to own their pleasures;
b. why are there still taboos around sex when it’s simply part of human nature, and all of us are here because our parents had sex?;
c. the lack of sexual education, especially in schools, and how many of us had to learn through googling, porn (which is often a performance and a poor reflection of reality) or learning it tough through making our own mistakes and learning from them;
d. the tension between sex and religion;
e. how does one spark intimacy in a long term relationship, regain sexual confidence post motherhood/giving birth or even define sexuality in the stage of menopause;
f. learning about our own sexuality and gender labels;
and the list goes on…
The end of 2021 was when I merged my business (Good Vibes) with Hedonist to form Apogee Collective, with the same mission of breaking taboos around sex and empowering one to explore their sexuality without apology.
The name, Apogee Collective means “Living life without apologies, be unapologetically you.”
4. What are some of the key challenges you faced in running Apogee Collective and how did you overcome them?
Payment gateway bans were the first. I had to try again to apply under the electronic appliance category, but ultimately got caught again after a couple of months. So, I had to use any payment gateway with higher transaction rates.
Second, advertising bans on Meta for sexual pleasure-related content was a challenge; we had to rely on word-of-mouth marketing via our educational workshops, private parties and sex-positive events in collaboration with other brands/communities/venues. On top of that, the press has been very supportive and helpful in helping to spread our mission & vision.
Third, hiring is usually difficult — even more so in our industry as candidates would need to consult their partner, parents and family. I even had a candidate whose mum had to consult the god too.
5. Where do you see yourself five to ten years down the road?
There are a few things — I would be in my mid to late 30s, having a great work-life balance. Doing what I love and loving what I do.
Seeing my team grow in their career development and personal life.
Spending a couple of months a year having a digital nomad lifestyle, working from anywhere around the world while travelling and experiencing new cultures, climbing new mountains, and picking up new sports & adventures.
Hopefully, I’ve found a partner to join me on this adventure called life.
6. Where do you see Apogee Collective five to ten years down the road?
Creating a trusted lifestyle brand that’s all about being unapologetically you, with an expanded range of products to elevate your pleasure from good to great in all aspects of your intimate life. And creating thought provoking work that continue to push society’s boundaries and taboos.
Further, building a team with a fun-loving culture filled with folks who do not conform to society’s norms and keen to take on ownership to drive change and impact.
Giving back more to society, moving from ad-hoc campaigns to permanently implementing $X donation for every sex toy sold to a range of non-profits we believe in and growing the international markets. Singapore is currently our primary market, but there’s a lot of growth opportunity overseas as well. We have shipped to more than 35 countries without advertising in those markets, so imagine the potential if we were to focus on the overseas market too.
7. What are your hobbies?
- Sports: tennis, roller blading, yoga, running, swimming, kayaking
- Reading, self-development, meditation, journaling, picnic-ing
- Language: French
- Enjoy the company of close friends with great conversations over good food
- Travelling & adventure, always on the lookout to visit new places, try new things and pick up a new skill
8. What is one quote you live by?
C’est la vie, you just gotta ride the wave and live life with no regrets.
9. What is one thing you would tell your past self and your future self?
Past self: Set better boundaries in life and actually, really, enforce them for good.
Future self: Better to have experienced than not at all.
10. What advice do you have for young business owners/entrepreneurs in Singapore?
Eat, breathe, live Nike’s slogan: JUST DO IT.
Once you’ve really thought through your commitments in life, finances, etc. and still choose the hustle life then just do it. Don’t wait for the best ideas to come, the perfect timing in life, or after crafting the most exquisite business deck/model. Just get your hands dirty and start building the business, test, try, and move fast to learn what works and what doesn’t. Then tweak and adapt the business accordingly, and repeat the whole testing process.
Not forgetting to set your own personal timelines and goals at the very start because we all have commitments in life, and it’s important to be realistic about it.
P.S.: Take the time to find a business partner who complements you and have the same passion, drive & work ethics as you. Once you find the right one, it will really keep your sanity in life. I can’t emphasise this enough, else it will be a baptism of fire for you!
More about Meryl Lim
Meryl is widely known for ditching a cushy corporate job for starting a sexual wellness startup in the peak of the pandemic (Nov 2020). She is a strong advocate for doing what makes you happy and being comfortable in your own skin. She is a believer in serendipity and having an attitude of not being afraid and open to learning what you don’t know. She has since developed a greater sense of self, and wants to normalise conversations on sexual wellness, especially in the Asian context. Read more about her journey here.
More about Apogee Collective
They are a Singaporean Femtech start-up, curating their own sexual wellness brands, Genvie (previously known as Good Vibes) and Hedonist. They are on a mission to liberate true sexual satisfaction and enable a journey of happiness guided by one’s true pleasure.
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