Bask Spotlights: Susannah Jaffer, Founder of ZERRIN

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This month, Bask Spotlights chats with Susannah Jaffer, former magazine editor turned entrepreneur!

1. Hi Susannah! You kickstarted your editorial career in Singapore following your move here from the UK back in 2012. Can you share with us a little bit more about your journey, and what are some of the biggest difference you see in the editorial between Singapore and the UK?

Sure. I’m 27, British and moved to Singapore at 21 to find a job after completing university in the UK. When I came here, I had a teaching job lined up but it fell through because of visa quotas. However, I into a PR internship for 7 months at a local agency. This was followed by being recruited for a job at Expat Living magazine in 2013. There I worked my way up through various roles, from junior editor to fashion and beauty editor, to launching and running a monthly women’s supplement called LIV for the company, to being appointed their creative director. In a nutshell, my career has largely been in media in Singapore until I launched my new company, ZERRIN.

To be honest, I’d say the biggest differences editorially are topical. Trends are often more geared towards a Western audience, which is a lot bigger and more diverse. I’d also say there’s more freedom of speech in the papers back home than there is here, which is more regulated.

2. Having worked in the magazines for over 4 years, what are some of your favourite stories to do?

I love putting together and directing creative shoots, or alternatively conducting or writing interviews with business owners or entrepreneurs. It’s something I really got into when we launched LIV (Expat Living) back in 2015, which featured an inspiring cover story every issue. I had so much fun writing them. I feel so blessed to have connected with many incredible and hard-working individuals over the past few years through those features, a number of which have become personal friends.

3. Any tips from PR and/or brand owners in reaching out to editors for potential story pieces?

Always know and be in tune with the publication’s target audience. Make pitches personal, or as tailored as possible. It’s worth the effort to make a great connection and crucial to make a good first impression.

4. You have recently transitioned into a freelance role with Expat Living, and at the same time launched ZERRIN, a sustainable fashion and beauty online store. Congratulations! Please tell us more about ZERRIN?

Thank you! ZERRIN is Asia’s first e-tailer dedicated to conscious fashion and beauty brands. We source and curate labels from around the world that are environmentally or socially responsible. Our mission with ZERRIN is threefold:

  • To enable women to discover and shop conscious brands conveniently on one platform.
  • To educate women about the impact of the retail industry and what part can we play to make a more positive impact.
  • To empower women to #shopmeaningfully; purchase more mindfully and place a higher value on their clothing.

We’re proud to support and carry a range of labels from around the world including Hong Kong, Bali, Canada and London, as well as home grown labels from Singapore.

5. With a shift in consumer spending, especially in the millennial group, towards businesses focusing on greater good, how do you see businesses creating sustainable programmes to maintain authenticity over publicity to causes that they are trying to benefit?

If you want to incorporate sustainability or social impact causes into your business, my personal take would be to go into it with a true purpose and a real passion behind the cause that you’re supporting. Businesses shouldn’t be jumping on the bandwagon just because it’s seemingly becoming a trend. Be authentic in everything you do, as your customers or clients will soon realise when you’re not being genuine.

6. We celebrated International Women's Day back in March. Are there any female entrepreneurs whom you look up to? 

Emily Weiss, founder of Glossier and Into the Gloss, as well as Yael Aflalo, founder of Reformation, are inspiration from the retail sphere for their drive, smarts and business strategy. I’ve also been so inspired by women in Singapore I’ve met, interviewed or worked with, like Stephanie Crespin, founder of pre-loved designer marketplace Style Tribute. I met her when she first started the company a few years ago and she’s really built an incredible business from the ground up. I think she’s the true definition of a #girlboss!

7. What’s next for you and ZERRIN?

We’ll be focused on brand building and spreading the word about what we do over the next year, in Singapore and in a few key countries internationally. I really want to focus on building our community and changing the way women consume. We’ll also be putting on a lot on local events between now and June. Our next pop-up is happening at the F1 Pit Building on 14-15 April for the Income Eco Run 2018 race pack collection! We’re also hosting an ethical fashion show as part of Fashion Revolution Day, held at The Hive Lavender on 28 April.