Next Gen: Priscilla Tan, SOJAO Founder

Photo: Athira Annissa

Priscilla Tan, 35, has devoted the past five years of her life to educating the Singapore public on why they should treat their bodies right. Tan is the CEO and co- founder of Sojao, a bedding emporium selling organic cotton bedsheets that she started with her former polytechnic schoolmate and floorball comrade, Janice Tan.

Since 2018, they have been building their small online business into one that has not only proven viable — the duo’s online outfit broke even after one year, consistently growing their revenue at two times their projection annually — but has grown.

Its offerings have since moved beyond the web and are now available at a shophouse nestled in charming Joo Chiat, which opened in November 2021.

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First dibs on Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

Although Tan had always dreamed of starting her own business, entrepreneurship was not a driver when she decided to go on a solo shopping trip for bedsheets. At the department store, the then 26-year-old community manager at DBS was bewildered by the array of bedding. She was especially struck by the lack of transparency — from material types to thread count.

By the time she left, an idea was germinating; there was a gap to be filled in the local bedding market in the online space. Quick research affirmed her hypothesis.


After Tan cajoled her partner to join her, the real work began. The pair had to do, among other things, research to find “the ultimate bedding material to use” and, more importantly, understand where the materials came from. They also made visits to organic cotton factories in India, the world’s largest producer of organic cotton.

Two years and eight trips to India later, Sojao was ready to launch, becoming Singapore’s first local online bedding brand made from 100 per cent organic cotton, which is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified. GOTS is widely considered to be the gold-standard organic cotton label. “I believe we are still the only bedding company in Singapore to have that certification,” she reckoned.

The allure of thread count

The two women gave themselves a year to decide if they should continue on this path. They knew the odds were stacked against them; no other bedding brand had yet branched into e-commerce at the time.

Additionally, consumers were also obsessed with high thread counts that gave the illusion of greater comfort when it was actually all mere hype. “It’s an industry gimmick,” insisted Tan. Both Sojao’s percale- and sateen-woven sheets come in a thread count of 300 — “what we found to be the perfect balance between smoothness, breathability, and lightweightedness”.

The organic cotton label also came with a higher-than-average price tag. Tan admitted that Sojao sheets are “a bit more expensive for us to manufacture” but hastened to add that “we price ourselves competitively (and) our margins are a little bit lower”.

As for where Sojao is headed next, Tan isn’t overly eager to further push the boundaries in any way at the moment.

“We don’t want to overexpand and overstretch ourselves. For now, we want to focus on our core products for younger consumers in the region, and do them well. That could be perhaps the secret recipe to what Sojao is today, because we didn’t really have a playbook to follow,” she concluded.