Anya Active founder Melinda Sutikno creating size-inclusive brand
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In recent years, the demand for size-inclusive fashion lines has been increasing following the body positivity movement in the West, though it has yet to make a significant mark on the runway. During this year’s Autumn/Winter (AW 2023) fashion week, shows in London featured more diversity in sizes, but only a meagre seven per cent of the looks were mid-size or plus-size

The slow growth can also be seen in the activewear industry. Canadian activewear powerhouse Lululemon expanded their size range to a US size 20 in 2020 despite being in the market since 1998. 

Melinda Sutikno, founder of Anya Active, aims to break away from these standards with her inclusive activewear, seeking to empower women to be comfortable in their own body.

As opposed to the traditional retail fashion stores that focus on ‘exclusivity’, we say ‘you can come and sit with us!’

– Melinda Sutikno, founder of Anya Active

Prior to starting Anya Active, Melinda worked in management consulting after earning a business degree from Nanyang Technological University (NTU). She had previously worked at the now-defunct honestbee, and a tech startup in Thailand, but lost her job due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Undeterred by the risks and uncertainties, Melinda decided to take a leap of faith and invested less than S$10,000 to launch Anya Active in 2020, marking her first foray in entrepreneurship.

Personal struggle with eating disorders and body image issues

Many people often feel dissatisfied about their bodies, stemming from having low self-esteem and confidence issues. In Singapore, there has been a surge in people developing body image concerns, which when pushed to the extreme, result in the development of unhealthy eating habits and disorders. 

On the other hand, some people also suffer from gym anxiety or ‘gymtimidation’ – the fear of judgement at the gym, leading them to avoid exercise altogether. These anxieties are all too familiar to Melinda. 

Melinda shared that she experienced severe fluctuations in her weight, which took a hit on her overall confidence and led her to engage in excessive exercise. However, she soon realised that her motivation for exercise came from an unhealthy place, spurring her to shift her mentality. 

This shift became the primary mission of Anya Active – to inspire movement, foster body acceptance, all while working towards becoming a better version of oneself. 

Anya Active inclusive activewear
Anya Active carries an extensive range for women/ Image Credit: Anya Active via Facebook

“Inclusivity is part of our brand’s DNA,” said Melinda, adding that it goes beyond catering to a diversity of sizes; ensuring that they cater to different body shapes is key to creating flattering activewear. 

However, she was quick to clarify that like any sportswear brand, comfort and mobility remain the foundational principles of all Anya Active’s garments. Features such as built-in-pockets are added to eliminate potential distractions during exercise, and the team goes through rounds of fabric sampling to comprehensively test their durability. 

“We want to create beautiful pieces for women,” said Melinda, adding that they are committed to designing tailored pieces for Asian women that are versatile for exercise, leisure, and work. 

Building a community-first brand

However, building a business from the ground-up has not been easy for Melinda. She shared that Anya Active was launched at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to several delays in the supply chain that inevitably slowed down her progress. 

On the other hand, as more people embraced exercise during the pandemic, it provided an opportunity for new players like Anya Active to establish loyal relationships with customers. A handful of customers have remained loyal to the brand since its inception, boosting Melinda’s confidence as an entrepreneur and guiding the overall design and business direction.  

Anya Active community event
One of Anya Active’s Community events / Image Credit: Anya Active

“We are a community-first brand, and this approach helped set us apart in the market,” said Melinda. She elaborated on the growth of Anya Active, emphasising the active involvement of their customer community in testing new designs and incorporating their feedback to refine her garments. 

While expressing gratitude for customer input, she underscored the brand’s commitment to its artistic direction – focused on timeless colours and designs. She explained that these elements not only exude elegance and femininity, but they also inspire confidence in an understated way. 

There’s still room for growth

Melinda also acknowledges the imperative of sustainability in business, extending beyond the use of environmentally-friendly materials. She explained that they are now producing garments in smaller batches to reduce wastage and are working towards developing fabrics that are more environmentally-friendly. 

Currently, Anya Active primarily sells their products via their e-commerce website and works with like-minded individuals and businesses to expand their reach. This includes notable partnerships with The Editor’s Market, one of Singapore’s mainstay fashion brands, and Actually SG, a multi-label fashion and lifestyle boutique, where customers can personally shop for Anya Active’s garments. 


Come check us out at The Editors Market!

? original sound – Anya Active – Anya Active
Anya Active’s activewear at The Editor’s Market / Video Credit: Anya Active

Despite the brand’s steady growth, Melinda envisions more growth for the business and herself as an entrepreneur. She noted that her team has expanded, and she is committed to becoming a better leader. She also highlighted the importance of capital management, adding that it is an ongoing challenge to take calculated risks and being prudent when managing finances. 

Expressing her ambition, she aims to open physical outlets within the next five years. In the meantime, her team will concentrate on expanding their reach and building their online community.

To us, Anya [Active] is just a vehicle to reach out to more women, and to spread our mission of inspiring movement while accepting our bodies.

– Melinda Sutikno, founder of Anya Active

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Featured Image Credit: MeetInsights/Anya Active via Instagram

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)