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  • Writer's pictureJae

Vanessa Ho: influencer, actress, DJ, and now, startup founder

The Refuel Team met with IglooWear's founder, Vanessa, to learn about how she juggles between her many entertainment gigs, studying, and now her business. Read to the end for a Refuel exclusive deal for your next holiday!


The Startup Founder

Many know Vanessa as the influencer, actress or DJ. From acting to modelling to hosting, there's nothing much Vanessa cannot do. Since she was 16, she joined the entertainment industry, and began trying out different art forms. Most recently, she made it to the finals of Star Search, a talent scouting competition that attracted more than 1,200 hopefuls to audition in 2019, and got offered a contract by Mediacorp.

However, beyond that, the 21 year old is a startup founder too. Her latest venture? IglooWear - a winter wear rental platform which serves both the Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B) markets.

I have always loved trying new things, and I am very experimental

IglooWear actually started two years ago as a completely different concept, a Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C) clothing rental platform. However, the idea pivoted into a winter wear rental platform when the team identified the need for such a service. The NUS double-degree undergraduate noticed her peers having to spend outrageous amounts on winter clothing that would only be worn once or twice a year, and decided that there had to be a way to circumvent this problem. Besides, sustainability is key for many millennials these days, and most do not want to splurge on winter wear only to have them sitting in wardrobes for the rest of the year. The IglooWear team then set out to create a platform to enable travellers to acquire stylish winter clothes for OOTD pictures, without having to spend too much.

Besides an online platform, IglooWear also plans to tap on existing retail spaces in stores like Cold Wear. For these traditional retail stores, this solution is welcomed, allowing them to innovate into the rental space, something many of them have wanted to explore. The startup also aims to take up partnerships with travel agencies and corporate trips, to widen its target audience.

By this time, everyone must be thinking: what happens when it isn't winter? Fortunately, the winter season isn't as short as we think, and runs from December to March. During the downtimes, the IglooWear team will be busy pitching to as many people as possible to secure partnerships, and preparing their inventories for the next season. In the long run, the startup plans to scale geographically, and have pick-up services at locations like Japan and Korea, to solve the problem of bulk.


All that glitters is not gold

Vanessa has had her fair share of problems and worries throughout her startup journey. A key issue that the startup has faced is identifying and quantifying the weather, and thus demand for winter clothing. Also, since the company does not currently utilise deep technology, which is all the rage right now, it tends to stay in the shadows, despite the founders going for many pitch competitions. However, in true startup-hustle fashion, the team does not let these issues bring them down.

We realised that even though we might not be noticed initially, this does not mean we aren't following the trends and will not succeed

A mentor advised them to do the toughest thing first. So, they immediately went out and spoke to their target users to determine if they would pay for the service. And... people did pay.


Lessons learnt and insights gained

Even though the company is young, the startup scene is not unfamiliar to Vanessa. From hosting pitching competitions to participating in them, she shared with us a key takeaway that she has: we should share our ideas instead of keeping them secret.

Many are scared to share their ideas because they believe others will steal and copy it. But, I realised that in this community of aspiring entrepreneurs, we should really help each other and get feedback, instead of just holding ourselves back because we are scared of competition.

Networking and meeting new people is equally important. Prior to entering university, Vanessa expected herself to spend her university days "studying like crazy". It was after meeting people with different ideas that she realised how fulfilling taking the startup path would be for her.


For Refuel readers

With that, IglooWear was born, and has officially launched. Vanessa is offering a special promo code just for Refuel readers! Quote REFUEL5 for $5 off each piece!


Learning more about entrepreneurship, innovation or just curious about how startups make money? Find out more about IglooWear's business model here!


Refuel was founded to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs through the stories of startup founders. We aim to build a global community of entrepreneurs and innovators, and hustle on together.

We hope you liked the story! If you have any requests for startups to feature, questions on entrepreneurship, or just simply want to chat, feel free to drop us a line at, on Facebook or Instagram!

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