While experimenting with what would become an anti-cancer drug, Beau Wangtrakuldee suffered a chemical burn — even though she was following her lab's dress code. After, she searched for protective clothing that would make her feel safer returning to work. That's when she noticed a huge issue facing female scientists. Protective clothing was only available in men's sizes, making it difficult for women to find protective clothes that fit and make them feel good. Wangtrakuldee decided to break down this barrier and AmorSui was born.
Wangtrakuldee shared how she started her clothing business with no experience in fashion. She also shared how she unwinds after a long day of learning, and how she keeps her passion even when the going gets tough.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Beau Wangtrakuldee
Founder & CEO, AmorSui
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get where you are now?
My career has always been driven by a passion to make a difference in the lives of the people around me. I was raised by a family of entrepreneurs who taught me early on that a dedication to creating a business out of innovation could positively benefit the community around it. In fact, I studied and trained as a scientist because I wanted to apply my creative thinking in science to address the unmet needs of society.
One day, during my chemical experiments to create what could become an anti-cancer drug, a chemical spill accident occurred and caused a burn on my right calf despite the fact that I was following proper dress code with a lab coat on. After the incident, I searched for protective clothing that I could wear to feel safe going back to work. To my surprise, I found that protective clothing for women does not exist. Most available products are offered in men’s sizes, do not fit women’s bodies and do not look professional. When I found out that over 4.9 million female scientists’ lives are in danger because protective clothing that fits their needs do not exist, I was determined to solve this problem not only for myself but for my colleagues who are putting their lives in danger to use science to make a world a better place.
My team gathered insights from 100 women scientists and designed the first professional protective clothing that fits the dynamic lives of women. AmorSui offers an alternative and innovative approach to protective clothing with well-fitted and stylishly-made protective clothing that women scientists want to wear — with or without a lab coat — from the laboratory to the boardroom. Our name means “self-love” in Latin. We are a proud advocate and supporter of women in STEM.
What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
Starting AmorSui is the proudest accomplishment in my life thus far. This is because I overcame my fear of failure and took a risk on a product and mission that I truly believe in. I am really excited for what is next for AmorSui and other milestones that we have yet to cross.
What is a challenge that you’ve faced and overcome?
I started AmorSui with no background in fashion and garment production. Learning all of the aspects of producing high-quality garments has been the biggest challenge I have overcome in operating AmorSui. What I had to do was not learn and do everything myself, but effectively collaborate with experienced professionals in the field to accelerate the business. I learned to balance my weaknesses with the strengths of my team. Not only did I partner with a fashion designer and a pattern maker with 30 years of combined fashion and garment production experience, many of my interns are fashion graduates and students who I can lean on anytime.
Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? and Why?
My Fairygodboss is Kat Bond — my business coach from iFundWomen. She is a fashion lawyer and entrepreneur who runs her own legal firm, a legal education platform for fashion designers and created her own clothing line. Our relationship has grown from working together on AmorSui’s crowdfunding campaign and she is now my closest mentor and colleague. Kat not only taught me everything I know about developing effective crowdfunding strategies, she also gave me different perspectives on life. She introduced me to the concept of self-care and how to respect and take care of myself before my business.
What do you do when you're not working?
My stress-relief activities include binge-watching TV, exercising and cuddling with my dog. Even when I am working, you will often find me with TV shows or movies on in the background. The background noise helps me focus, though I’ve never understood why. If I am lounging while watching TV on the couch, my Corgi, Butters, will often accompany me. In terms of exercising, I like going to yoga and weight-lifting classes with my husband. I also practice and play tennis competitively with local leagues. My tennis group competes a few times a month with other teams in the region.
If you could have dinner with one famous person – dead or alive – who would it be?
David Bowie. My husband and I are obsessed with his music. We never got a chance to see him perform live and it would be totally rad to have dinner with him (and maybe hear one song?). I think that his ability to adapt musical styles from decade to decade demonstrates an extreme versatility that any entrepreneur would be lucky to have.
Lightning Round: What is your karaoke song?
I am horrible at singing in public. The only time I’ve sung karaoke was when my best friend from college and my then-boyfriend (now husband) pressured me to sing "Dilemma" by Nelly and Kelly Rowland at the bar on my 21st birthday, which was probably one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. If I have to choose a song though, it would be "Mr. Blue Sky" by Electric Light Orchestra.
Lightning Round: What is your favorite movie?
I love romantic comedies. My favorite is "Just Friends" featuring Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, and Anna Faris.
Lightning Round: What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
I usually read business and self-development books. One of my favorites is "Grit" by Angela Duckworth. However, if I have to be stuck with it on a desert island, I would choose books that are fun and light hearted such as "Why Not Me? Or Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?" from Mindy Kaling.
Lightning Round: What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
If I won a lottery, the funds would go towards a down payment for a center of women entrepreneurship in Thailand. It has been a lifelong dream of mine to build one.
What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
I don’t recommend that you become an entrepreneur. It is a really difficult life, especially for a sole founder of a startup company. Not only is it lonely, but you are always deprived of resources. You will have to take on a lot of hats, but you will also learn a lot. It does give you a sense that you can do anything you set your mind too.
If you are ready to start a business, my no. 1 tip is to not let your fear hold you down. If you think you have a million-dollar idea, go chase it and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. If you think pursuing a passion project will make you happier, you should follow your dream. However, an entrepreneur must have a strong mind to uphold the company’s vision, to maintain energy when times get tough and to show confidence in front of customers and investors. If you can do that, you will be a successful entrepreneur.
Why do you love where you work?
I love where I work because I get to create my own culture with a small team who believes in our mission to protect and empower women scientists. Every day, I learn and grow not only as a leader but as a company builder and problem solver. The best part about my job is that I get to work hard to make sure brilliant women scientists all over the world will be safe at work and look great at the same time.