In The Media // Mums@Work Singapore

Featured Mumpreneur: The Techno-Mum who champions a good cause

June 2013

Katherine is the Mumpreneur behind a Web Design firm and also The Shop City. Find out how this mother of one came up with her business idea and what keep her going.

Tell us about yourself.

Back during my poly days, I wanted to set up a business baking and selling cookies. I even named my business – "PuppyLove" (thinking back, how weird! People would have thought I was selling dog cookies!) After doing my sums, I realize I needed capital to do that. I then decided to fund my dreams by doing freelance web design work. I figured out that with enough projects, I could fulfill my little cookie business.

However my parents didn't like the idea of me doing freelancing, so to make them happy I went to work full time after I graduate from poly. Despite the economic downturn, I was really thankful to find a 1-year contact work after a month of job hunting. I worked in an IT MNC company as a web master. After my contract ended, I worked in an IT outsourcing company as a system developer for another year. During the 2 years as I worked on my full time job, I continue to freelance. But my dream on setting up my cookies business never came true! Instead my freelance work was picking up and booming! I started getting more referrals from my clients till I was working close to 14-16 hours every day. Finally, I decided that I should take a leap of faith. After 2 years I left my job and set up my business. It was tough initially. I also went back to studying – to get my university degree. In 2010 I married my best friend of 12 years and gave birth to a little boy in 2012.

Tell us about your little business.

Since June 2012, , I started running my 2nd business: The Shop City – a social media platform that gathers local handcrafters from the creative community to showcase and sell their creations online. This online platform is developed to provide an opportunity for local handcrafters to establish their very own brand and to build a successful business.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

When I was working on my business, I had clients approaching me to help them set up an online shop to sell their products instead of renting a physical shop. However the business didn't go through, as they didn't have the budget to set up an online shop. My business partner suggested me that we could setup an online shopping mall to pool these entrepreneurs together for them to sell their products online.

I had another idea, instead of gathering entrepreneurs who export mass-made factory products from overseas, I decided to focus on handmade or self designed products. Singapore has many creative talented individuals who do not have a platform to showcase their work.

In June 2012, after 5 years of planning, The Shop City was launched! I've always wanted the work I am doing would be a channel of blessings to the people because I believed what I have today are gifts from God. By setting up The Shop City, I hope to contribute back to society by doing outreach to selected groups, such as the youth at risks or ex convicts.

As a service-based business, what has been the most challenging part of running this business?

The challenge is getting fellow Singaporeans to support handmade products. Many are accustomed to purchasing mass-produced (at factories) items at a lower cost. Some customers even deem handmade products to be of inferior quality. As a result, some of the handcrafters would get discouraged and stop producing their goods. It is such a pity because some of the things they are creating are so unique and exquisite. We really hope that Singaporeans will support and purchase handmade products and the creative handcrafters community will continue to thrive.

How do you balance running your business and being a mother?

Before I became a mother, I'm always working all the time (even on holidays) but when my little boy arrived last year August, everything changed. I took 2 months maternity leave and after that I tried to work with my baby around. I bumped into many roadblocks and finally I got a nanny to take care of my boy 3 days a week. During the 3 days, I would cover as much work as possible.Time is precious and I learnt to work smarter and more efficient than before! The days when I am not working, I take time to relax and spend time with my son. When he naps, I would quickly take the opportunity to do admin work and reply emails.

Are there any upcoming events/ promotions/ activities that your business will be running in the next 6 months?

We are very excited to share with Mums@Work member-mums! We are currently working on a pilot project with a non-profit organization, SANA to help their clients be self-reliant. As some of you have already acquired a skill and are crafting your own products and sell in order to be independent, many of them wish to be like you.

We are asking for volunteers to join us to conduct handicraft courses for them. We hope to teach them how to craft their own items and to build on their innovation and creative thinking. The level of commitment will be (estimated) 2 hours a week (either weekday or weekend) for about 3 months (12 weeks) starting from July or August. If selected, you will be invited to conduct the lesson for the beneficiaries.

We are also looking for sponsors to donate laptops, digital cameras for these beneficiaries so that they can use the platform to showcase their work. Do contact us if you have any queries. (EMAIL: findus@theshopcity.com)

What advice do you have for other mums who are thinking of or trying to build their own little biz from home?

(1) Start off with what you are familiar and good with – My cookies business dream didn't come true, as I didn't have the funds to set up. To fund it, I took the alternative by doing something I was familiar with. This saves time, as I need not do too much groundwork, as I was already equipped with the skills. Who knows when the right time comes, you can still return to your childhood dream because you have become more experienced, knowledgeable and established (& possibly with more funds this time) J

(2) Get a "pushy" partner — Have you ever had the burning excitement about your setting up your own business? Then after awhile it dies down, you procrastinate and you no longer have the same desire to pursue your dream? Share it with someone you trust. Get the person to ask you how your planning is coming along. Get him/ her to push and check on you every week and month.

Original Article from Mums@Work Website


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