VIDEO: Hot-cake items include an assortment of quirky enamel pins from @pinsnpongs and gorgeous hand-sewn accessories from @hanselandsmith, both of which were just some of the goodies offered at a curated art market alongside weekend-friendly workshops; think soap-making with Rough Beauty and flower arrangement with Liora Florist
From left to right: Emcee Chew Soowei, SEA Games gold medallist Veronica Shanti Pereira, Kapap Academy Singapore CEO Qin Yunquan, Bettr Barista Coffee Academy founder Pamela Chng
We went social! For our first Her World Young Woman Achiever Social shindig this year, we invited two sets of panelists to share their tips and tricks on how they’ve challenged conventional definitions of success in their respective fields – and switched things up by pairing good conversation with a spot of shopping at artisanal stores and DIY action courtesy of hands-on workshops.
Here’s what we gleaned from the seven kick-ass motivational and entrepreneur speakers. Feel free to share the following quotable quotes on social media via the hashtag #HerWorldYWASocial:
#1. Ask if you’re enjoying yourself
“My mom always asks me if I’m enjoying myself,” says SEA Games women’s 200m sprint gold medallist Veronica Shanti Pereira, when explaining how she manages to power through hours of arduous and at-times physically painful sprinting sessions. “Always be happy, believe in yourself and strive on.”
Proving that she’s only human and that we’re all subject to bad days, she also recalls how “there were points when I’d ask why I’m putting myself through such rigorous training.” And yes, Shanti is also a millennial subject to #FOMO envy: “I’d see my friends on Instagram go on short getaways, but I’ll remind myself that my days on the track field shouldn’t be seen as a sacrifice, because it’s what I want to do.” Her next goal? Making it to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Watch this space.
#2. You do you
“In order to be accepted by society, I thought I should look like everybody else,” says self-defense instructor and CEO of Kapap Academy Qin Yunquan, when recounting her anorexic days. “I exercised six to seven days a week and weighed my lightest at 37 kg. The doctor told me that [if I had lost] another two kilograms, I would have died.” Sobering stuff, but her doctor’s dire warning hammered home to Yunquan the point that she could have died at the age of 18 before she had even lived her life. “What self-defense did for me is help me realise that I don’t have to focus on my appearance. It’s what I do with my life that can change people’s perception of me.”
VIDEO: Yunquan demonstrating how to stay on top of dangerous encounters. Long story short: the crowd was impressed (and somewhat sorry for the sporting guy volunteer she was practicing her moves on).
#3. Overcome your demons
“If you run away from your fears, you’ll always keep running,” is something Yunquan says to her students, 10 to 20 per cent of whom are sexual assault survivors. For these deeply traumatised women – Yunquan tells us of a girl who was attacked when she was just 12 and who subsequently attempted suicide multiple times – the first part is educational, with therapeutic sessions to “overcome the negativity plaguing them and correct the internal script”. The second is empowering – going to class to equip themselves with the physical manoeuvres needed to get out of compromising situations in the future: “I’m trying to tell them that what has happened has happened, but you can prevent it from happening it again.”
From left to right: Emcee Chew Soowei, FoodXervices Inc managing director and The Food Bank Singapore co-founder Nichol Ng, Marvelstone Group co-founder and CEO Gina Heng, Carrie K. founder Carolyn Kan, Naiise buying and marketing director Amanda Eng
#4. Don’t just chase trends
Business-minded folks may be fixated on spotting and leveraging off “the gap” in the market, but Naiise marketing and buying director Amanda Eng and Carrie K. founder Carolyn Kan both highlight the importance of stepping back and looking at the big picture. When dealing with competitors, you can learn from them and keep an eye on what’s #TrendingNow, but as the first employee of Naiise puts it, “the goal is to not make this a trend but a sustainable business”. In a similar vein, Carolyn explains that you’ve got to go in knowing that it’s not just about having a vision or a dream but building something sustainable – you need to marry the design with the business as “ultimately, you’re serving a need.” Well said, ladies.
#5. Play up your best assets
Pamela Chng, founder of Bettr Barista Coffee Academy, helps marginalised women and youth at risk receive emotional and physical support while teaching them to make a mean cup of coffee; essentially, she found a way to do good while running a business. “You don’t necessarily have to take time out to volunteer,” Pamela notes. “It’s about being aware of the skills you possess that can contribute to somebody else’s story.” With a social enterprise, it’s not just about making money but being aware of how everyday actions can impact people; this #girlboss says she has successfully helped 60 women in the past five years through the power of a good brew.
#6. Learn the full story
Keep your peepers peeled and bear in mind that sometimes what we see in society barely scratches the surface. The managing director at FoodXervices Inc and co-founder of The Food Bank Singapore was partly inspired to start The Food Bank when she gained insight on the at-times ludicrous lengths that food and beverage businesses go to in order to preserve the quality of food that we enjoy. “For example, we received 2,000 cartons of onion rings from a famous burger joint in Singapore – the reason they were rejected was because there were two customer complaints of onion skin in their rings.” (Not a good enough reason to throw them all out, in her view.) Plus, just because poverty is not in your face doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who could use a hand with putting food on the table.
#7. Don’t disregard people for the sake of your product
“You can’t just push your product out there. Listen to your customers about what they actually want and what they’re comfortable with,” says Gina Heng, who co-founded Marvelstone Group with her husband Joe Seunghyun Cho. She adds that “it’s not just about you being good at what you do. You need to understand your customers well and ensure that the partners you bring onboard are able to help to fulfill your vision. It’s never one-sided.”
#8. Surround yourself with a supportive network
For Shanti, her family serves as her pillar of strength, whilst Nichol says her mother is her personal heroine. “She’s a really funny mother who brought me to colour my hair for the first time, and even to the disco when I was fifteen. She really believes in and loves her children a lot.” Meanwhile, Carolyn says her brand’s international success – Carrie K’s stocked in concept stores such as Anthropologie in the US and South Korea – is a testament to like-minded individuals uplifting one another. “It’s important to network and share your contacts. We’re a tiny island, but that’s how we become giants – by being a collective.”
#9. Trust a good team
When asked how she juggles her multiple businesses, Gina tells us that she tries not to micromanage: “Trust that you have the right people to take it forward. You can drive the vision and strategy but it’s good to allow the team to develop it further.”
Want more? Follow @herworldsingapore and check out #herworldYWAsocial on Instagram. We’ll see you next year!