Fresh out of university in 2011, Ms Lee Chang Xi (left) and Ms Vanessa Keng (right) founded The Golden Concepts, which curates eldercare products for seniors to age well.
WHEN Vanessa Keng noticed an elderly woman use a walker to move about independently at the market near her home in 2013, she was thrilled.
The senior was using a special walker that Vanessa and her business partner, Lee Chang Xi, both 32, specially imported from the United States to sell on their e-commerce store, The Golden Concepts (TGC).
The walker is just one out of the many eldercare products that TGC designs and curates to help seniors to age well and live independently.
Vanessa said: “We started this business with the vision to enable seniors to age independently. Mobility is a key factor in ageing well, so we curate our products with a focus on maximising mobility.”
Walking with ease… Unlike traditional walking frames, these walkers with wheels allow users to push them effortlessly without any lifting, so they can focus on walking.
The idea to run an eldercare business was conceived when the Business School course mates at the National University of Singapore (NUS) embarked on a six-month exchange programme to Denmark in 2009. There, they saw elderly Danes using walkers and rollators (walkers with wheels) to move about independently
Vanessa said: “That was the first time Chang Xi and I experienced being in a country with a great degree of accessibility for all, regardless of age or disability. Many seniors in Denmark go to the supermarkets and movie theatres by themselves. It was an eye-opener as we are quite used to seeing the elderly being assisted by caregivers here in Singapore.”
Back at home, another incident spurred the best friends to embark on their entrepreneurship journey upon graduation. In 2011, Chang Xi’s sprightly grandmother, then 88, experienced a series of falls. Recognising that it was important for her to remain active, Chang Xi successfully convinced her grandma to use a stylish-looking walking cane so she could get around safely on her own.
This inspired the ladies to produce and sell trendy walking sticks. Today, one of TGC’s bestsellers is its own line of walking canes, The Cane Collective. The canes are a fresh and stylish take on traditional ones, which can look clinical. They have a pop of colour and come in a variety of designs such as polka dots, rainbows and flowers.
Cane you believe it… TGC’s walking canes are not only lightweight and foldable – they’re a fashion statement as well.
“These canes are great for first-time users who may be more image-conscious,” Vanessa said. “They are height-adjustable, foldable and can be easily kept in a bag on travel trips. We are proud to have made walking sticks fashionable!”
With a gamut of items comprising over 500 eldercare products for mobility, bath and home safety, daily living and many more, it’s hard to imagine that success once seemed unattainable for the millennials.
When TGC was in its infancy, Vanessa and Chang Xi struggled to gain credibility for their business and had to convince sceptical suppliers to work with them.
Vanessa said: “We went through a very steep learning curve and had to figure out many things like how to build a website, find suppliers and attract customers. But we never once thought of giving up.”
Vanessa also remembers holding a car boot sale for TGC at Chinatown in 2011. That day, she and Chang Xi only managed to sell one silicone jar opener.
“Thankfully, we also brought along and sold a bunch of old items from our homes… so at least we could cover the registration fee!” she said.
Today, the dynamic duo faces a new set of challenges – building their brand and reaching out to a wider audience. They also face the perennial difficulty of helping seniors overcome the resistance and embarrassment associated with using mobility aids like wheelchairs or walkers.
“This is why we focus a lot on introducing better designs and creating educational content about the importance of using the right mobility aids. Over the years, we have seen more people being open to using mobility aids so they can continue to live independently. That is very encouraging,” added Vanessa.
The work may be hard, but for the passionate millennials, nothing brings them more joy and satisfaction than seeing their products being used in public.
“Till this day, we are heartened whenever we spot someone using our products. We will share our sighting in TGC’s group chat to celebrate the moment. Things like these keep us going,” she said with a smile.
Visit www.thegoldenconcepts.com to check out its range of eldercare products today.
Photo credit: The Golden Concepts
Article published on: 08/10/2020