1 JOINING A BEAUTY PAGEANT
Insisting that she’s always been a bit of a tomboy (“I had a crew cut – like men in National Service – throughout secondary school!”), the affable 37-year-old can’t quite explain why she signed up for the Miss Singapore Universe pageant in 2001. She puts it down to having greater confidence after removing her braces. “When the panel judges asked me why I’d decided to enter the pageant at 24 – an age that was considered late to the game – I told them it was because I finally felt like I’d grown from an ugly duckling to a ‘passable goose’,” Jaime laughs.
She won the pageant – and with that success, came a Mediacorp contract which got her into acting, hosting and even singing (Jaime spent some time as part of One Fifth, a Singapore-Taiwan girl group). “I never knew that I had it in me to join a pageant. But after doing so, I realised that sometimes you need to dive right into things to know if they matter to you.”
2 JUMPING OUT OF A PLANE!
A self-professed thrill-seeker, Jaime had her fair share of dabbling in extreme sports when she was filming travelogues. Static-line jumping – where you climb out of an airplane and hang onto its wing until you’re told to let go – is the riskiest thing she’s ever done. “I was attached to a cord that would activate my parachute when I jumped. But for a few seconds, I was free-falling. And I had to do it twice during filming – as if once wasn’t bad enough!” she cries.
But that’s the beauty of youth: You’re always raring to go. It’s a quality worth retaining – within reason – she adds. “When you do something risky, you feel even more alive – especially if you can tick it off your bucket list. That said, I’ll never jump out of planes again.”
3 OPENING HER OWN CUPCAKE BUSINESS
“The push to start Twelve Cupcakes in 2011 came from my husband Dan (former radio DJ, Daniel Ong) – I was hesitant, but he convinced me to go ahead with it. I wanted to play it safe by opening our first outlet in an HDB estate with affordable rent. But he said we should take a gamble and go commercial. I’m glad the risk paid off, because we were using our savings.”
With over 40 outlets in Singapore and the region in just three years, Twelve Cupcakes is a runaway success. This year, the couple also launched Dulce and Sucre, a dessert cafe selling other types of sweet treats.
“Even after watching our business grow, I’m still afraid every time we open a new outlet – I worry that our products won’t sell, or that people won’t think they’re good enough. We’ve had businesses that didn’t take off – Cookies for Sid, and Junbi – and regionally, Twelve Cupcakes doesn’t perform as well as it does here. But as Dan says, it’s better to have tried and failed, than never to have tried at all,” she points out.
4 TAKING A RISK WITH LOVE AND MARRIAGE
In any relationship, there’s always a chance that things might not work out. Even marriage isn’t a guarantee that it’s forever – some couples get divorced after many years together, says Jaime.
“Dan and I will have been married for seven years this September. Every day, I’m thankful that I decided to take the ‘risk’ with him. When our daughter, Renee, who’s four now, was about a month old, I had trouble breastfeeding her as she wasn’t latching on properly. On a particularly trying day, I was so frustrated and in pain that I started crying, and so did Renee. When Dan saw us, he said: ‘There’s no point crying over spilt milk, right?’ I started to laugh and my frustration melted away. That was when I really began to appreciate his support and efforts – he could always make me laugh even during such tough times.”
5 BECOMING A MOTHER
Of all the life-changing experiences she’s had, motherhood beats everything else, says Jaime. “I try to work from home as much as possible. But every time I’m not with Renee, or not giving her my undivided attention, I’m pulled into a guilt trip. But a friend once said: ‘God gives the child to the parent because they’re the best parent for that child.’ So now, whenever I feel inadequate or wonder if I’m doing enough for Renee, I tell myself that no parent can do everything right – I simply have to make decisions to the best of my ability at that moment.”
This article was originally published in Simply Her September 2014.