A random conversation - one with her boyfriend over the difficulty of finding healthy and tasty food in Singapore - planted the seeds of entrepreneurship and an idea of opening her own place in her head.

That was just over two years ago. Today, Miss Charlotte Wang, 24, is the proud owner of Guac and Go in Maxwell Road, a healthy food cafe centred around avocados.

 

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The interest in "clean" eating has been on the rise and there are many inspirational images on social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest, something Miss Wang uses to her advantage.

Miss Wang does not feel threatened by the proliferation of salad bars.

She said: "No two places are the same. You can never have too much food."

She studied art business management and then worked in sales and marketing.

So, when she found herself as a business owner, she was out of her depth.

In the early days, the staff comprised just the couple and Miss Wang's mother.

"It was quite crazy, running for the last bus kind of crazy. Sleeping at midnight, waking up at 6am to rush down and open the shop... It was fun, but I do not miss it," she said.

One of the many concerns young entrepreneurs have would be the management of staff, especially those who are older. For Miss Wang, being a boss initially proved difficult.

She said: "I used to be staff. Suddenly, I had to manage people and tell them what to do."

 

Instagram: @guacngo

 

Also adding to her list of worries were how some of her suppliers treated her.

"When I started, there were some people who would not contact me. They would contact my boyfriend instead, because they thought he was the boss."

DETERMINED

But the determined young woman refused to buckle under the pressure and stood her ground.

The early stages of the business had an effect on a more personal level too.

"For the first two years, I was a bit miserable that I had to give up my social life. I really did feel quite lonely - the only people I got to meet were at the cafe."

So she gave herself a deadline to see if going into business was the right route for her.

Today, many of the cafe's patrons are familiar faces - a sign that the venture has taken off, something that excites Miss Wang.

"It is really not easy... the long hours, and you got to do the nitty gritty. Even the gross stuff, such as washing dirty dishes and picking up used tissue. Some things just make you want to cry," she said with a laugh.

But the grind proved to be worth it for Miss Wang, who said: "I gave myself six months to figure out if this was what I wanted to do. And yes, this is what I want."

Go to tnp.sg for videos on our young entrepreneurs series

 

This story first appeared on The New Paper, 24 April 2017.