Credit: Instagram/Xiang Yun

Despite its challenges, this pandemic year has proven to be quite a fruitful one for veteran actress and life-long learner Xiang Yun.

The 58-year-old shared her happiness at finally furthering her studies, decades after joining the workforce. “This has been a year of ‘plentiful harvest’,” she said.

Due to her family background, Xiang Yun quit her studies after graduating from secondary school to help support her family, including four younger siblings.  

The Channel 8 star and her husband Edmund Chen were among those interviewed by 8world where they were asked to reflect on their year. 

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“I’ve fulfilled what I’d hoped to do for many years,” Xiang Yun shared of her busy year which was spent pursuing her interests. They included studies in nutrition, Reiki and flower essence therapy.

2021 has also been good to her husband, actor-turned-artist Edmund Chen, 60, who won four design awards this year for his work. He also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to work with the Science Centre in September on creating Singapore’s largest bottle-cap wall mural.

Added Xiang Yun: “I saw him achieve a lot this year, and I too, have fulfilled my dreams, which I’m happy about.”

Edmund chimed in with his support and admiration for his wife, whom he described as “amazing”. 

“I think it’s incredible how she took up courses, one after another. I thought her enthusiasm would be short-lived, but she came back with certificate after certificate, it was like an addiction,” he laughed.

Sharing how she “loves being in a learning environment”, Xiang Yun also gave credit to him for his support.

“I’d be in the room for up to four hours, or sometimes the whole day, for my online classes. When he peeks in, I’d motion to him that I’m hungry and he would go and da bao food for me.

“I’m very thankful to him for giving me that supportive environment to fulfil a dream I’ve had for many years.”

She joked: “I should get him to sign on my certificates.”

The pair, who has been married for 30 years, said they often reminisce on the past and the journey that they’ve been through.

“I think she’s amazing and I feel like I’ve won the lottery,” gushed Edmund. “It’s not easy because we have different characters and we do clash, so the fact that we’re able to get to this stage and continue to grow, it’s quite something.”

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Besides being a poster child for life-long learning, Xiang Yun has also dived into a new venture as an entrepreneur. She recently opened an online store with her younger sister and a partner selling organic and sustainable products.

The idea for the business took root after Xiang Yun successfully lost 10kg, which motivated her to take upnutrition studies along with her younger sister.

According to Shin Min Daily News, the sisters and another partner each invested a five-figure sum into their online store, named Skinship, which offers products such as organic nuts, nut butter, enzyme soap bars and essential oils.

Xiang Yun added that compared to other organic brands which can be “quite expensive”, their products are aimed at the mass market and set at a lower price point.

She confessed that she “doesn’t know a thing about business” and leaves the running of the venture mainly to her sister, who is “good with administrative details”.

“She’s more aggressive while I’m more cool-headed, our ‘boss’ [partner] has a lot of business experience so we each have our strengths. My sister does things very quickly which means I don’t have to breathe down her neck, I like this arrangement!” 

This article was first published in AsiaOne.