Entrepreneurs

Meet the beauty pageant finalist who has coached CEOs, politicians and entrepreneurs

Genecia Alluora, founder of Soul Rich Woman
Soul Rich Woman
Genecia Alluora, founder of Soul Rich Woman

You might not think there's much business can learn from the world of beauty pageantry.

Genecia Alluora, the former Miss Singapore finalist who went on to coach hundreds of CEOs and politicians, would beg to differ.

Through her image consulting business, Alluora spent a decade helping leaders enhance their appearance and body language to build their public personas.

"We're not asking the politician or C-suite executive to fake it," Alluora told CNBC Make It. "We're looking at how we can bring it out (their personality), how we can enhance their sphere of influence."

It wasn't an obvious career path for Alluora. She never planned on getting into pageants: In fact, she was bullied at school for her looks. But entering a modeling competition on a whim at university opened her eyes to its business potential.

"That was my first taste of entrepreneurship — that insight into personal branding," recalled Alluora.

It's a concept that can be dismissed as superficial, she said. But, for those in the public eye like political and business leaders, it's "invaluable."

"When you're beautiful, when you're young, people can be very skeptical." -Genecia Alluora, founder of Soul Rich Woman

"A lot of them are not extroverts, they are introverts playing an extrovert's game," Alluora said of her clients, who have included C-suite men and women and Singaporean politicians.

"They already have a team behind them," she noted. "But it's about how they communicate that authority and brand and show that consistency throughout their entire campaign or entire reign in office."

That doesn't just mean a carefully chosen outfit and considered body language. It also means thinking about the personality and psychology behind appearance, explained Alluora.

She combined her three years of pageantry, which culminated in placing third for Miss Singapore 2006, with her degree in occupational therapy. She also undertook several neuro-linguistic qualifications to ensure she had a back up plan after she quit pageantry.

"I knew that beauty fades, so I got certified in a lot of skills because skills are something that can't be taken away," she said.

"When you're beautiful, when you're young, people can be very skeptical. It's a double-edged sword. I wanted to make sure I had options."

Leading the way for female entrepreneurs

Alluora led her image consultancy business for 10 years, but in 2015 she decided to make a change and use her advisory skills to help other women entrepreneurs.

That same year, she founded Soul Rich Woman, an advice platform designed to "move the needle on female entrepreneurship" across Southeast Asia.

Genecia Alluora, founder of Soul Rich Woman presents with panelists in Hanoi
Soul Rich Woman
Genecia Alluora, founder of Soul Rich Woman presents with panelists in Hanoi

Since that is a particularly segmented region for entrepreneurs, Alluora said there was huge opportunity to help.

"Lots of women in Malaysia are looking for a side hustle, whereas in Singapore they are looking to scale and in the Philippines they are looking to build a brand," she said.

Through Soul Rich Woman she provides a range of advice to help women grow their business online. Three years after launching, Soul Rich Woman has 5,000 full members, who each pay an annual subscription fee of 300 Singapore dollars (around $223), plus 11,000 basic members and 200,000 subscribers.

"E-commerce has evolved massively and a lot of women are still using traditional methods," Alluora said, referring to offline sales. "We want to move the needle on female entrepreneurship and help more women build their businesses."