This is the fourth in our series SINGAPORE START-UP STORIES. Stay tuned for more insightful interviews with successful female entrepreneurs!

Chelsea Scott-Blackhall, owner and designer of fashion label Dzojchen, is flying the flag for Singapore in the international fashion scene. With her Singapore and British background, she understands contrasting cultures perfectly and channels this concept into her designs too. The former model launched her label in 2013 and has already had her work showcased on the runways of Paris, New York, Seoul – and Singapore, of course. Chelsea discusses her inspiration, her challenges and why she’s one of the most successful designers in Singapore.

Singapore women entrepreneur Dzojchen fashion designer Chelsea Scott-Blackhall DECOR
Image: Chelsea Scott-Blackhall

What inspires you in your professional and personal life?
I’m a collector. Experiences, Travel, Music, People – I’m a very curious person, both my personal and professional life is inspired by collecting experiences that move me, excite me, make me uncomfortable, evoke the unpredictable.

You’re one of very few Singaporean designers who has appealed to an international audience. Why do you think this is so?
I think part of what inspires me, lends itself to being a little more outward in my thinking. I love and respect my home and the industry here, but I do feel that in the many international trade shows, fashion weeks and moments I have lived abroad, I was forced to accept that you can be a big fish in a small pond here, continually pleasing those that directly surround me, or I can try and fail, and try and fail until I find a formula which breeds a competitive edge internationally. The learning curve was born out of embracing that humility, having a point of view, and growing a greater understanding for what can give me that competitive edge in markets that I feel are important to the brand’s longevity.

Do you think that being a model before gives you an edge when it comes to creating designs, because you’ve been on ‘the other side’ before?
I often get asked that question. Strangely, I don’t find that my past experience in the modelling industry gave me an edge creatively, so much as geared me into accepting rejection, and building tenacity. It’s a brutal industry in general, but to put yourself in the front line to be dismissed is not an easy pill to swallow. Successes are celebrated, but it’s character building to be able to allow the rejections to grow you. Learning to allow moments to be ‘water off a duck’s back’ if unfavourable. Keeping a positive mind and just plough on!

Do you see yourself as a role model for young female entrepreneurs?
I would like to see myself as one, not so much for the milestones that I may have crossed, but more so a showcase of character and tenacity. When you set out to carve your own path, you not only need to have a certain skill set to succeed, but also a strong sense of self.

What has been your biggest challenge, as a female entrepreneur in Singapore?
I feel there is a strong female entrepreneur community here, and we all have a quiet respect for each other. Whether it be Singapore, or any other city around the world, it takes that much more confidence and stamina to prove that you’re in the game to stay. Balancing likability and strength is a dance that women must master to be respected.

What is one perception about female entrepreneurs among Singaporeans that you’d like to change?
That you have to be a ball-buster to succeed.

What are three qualities you think every successful entrepreneur has?
Dogged determination, tenacity and humility.

What advice would you give to women in Singapore who are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs?
One must understand and accept becoming an entrepreneur is a complete lifestyle choice. It allows you to live each day excited for what you can birth, but it’s also a lonely journey, on which you must be a front man and your own cheerleader at the same time… A powerful yet petrifying paradox. The biggest risk in life is taking no risk at all. The beauty about being an entrepreneur is that not every venture needs to be a success; with every risk you take, you will be the living proof that win or lose, you are ultimately strengthening your force. Never waiver.

Stay tuned for more inspiring stories about female entrepreneurs based in Singapore. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out our stories about the HER WORLD WOMEN OF THE YEAR and YOUNG WOMEN ACHIEVERS, and discover this year’s winners: Meet your Her World Woman of the Year and Young Woman Achiever 2016!