I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Sabrina Tan at Galboss Asia. She shared her experience with growing her local custom skin care company, Skin Inc, into a global brand. It is now in over 100 cities around the world through skin care and make up juggernaut, Sephora.
I had heard about her success before meeting her through various business associates. And since I’m in the skin care industry too, I was very curious at how she did it.
Kudos, by the way to the Galboss Asia people who scheduled her sharing right after lunch. That was a good way to keep people awake! I’m sure there was no one sleeping since it was such an interesting and inspiring sharing.
I was particularly fascinated with her story because when she was building her business, she was also raising her family. Her youngest kid was only 1 when she started. I can most certainly relate to that. It is somewhat comforting also to hear that she had many challenges too before this huge success.
Having met her and if I had to describe her in 2 words, I would use the colloquail term “chilli padi“.
For my non-Singaporean readers, a chilli padi is a chili pepper otherwise known as Bird’s Eye chilli. It is small, but extremely potent and spicy. One small bite of this chilli will send an overwhelming explosion of flavour into your mouth, and it can be so spicy that it’ll make your ears hurt, I kid you not!
In that same thread, don’t be fooled by her petite frame. She is a force to be reckoned with.
These are the questions I asked her when I got the chance to chat with her:
How did you juggle your business and your family?
What were your biggest challenges in business and how did you overcome then?
What was your inspiration for Galboss Asia?
Great insights, no?
I also asked her this one last question off-camera,”The skin care industry is so competitive. Weren’t you afraid?” She just looked at me with steely determination and shook her head as she said,”No. Don’t even think about that.”
Y’know things happen in my life a lot faster than I can write. Plus, it was Birthday Week a few weeks ago, so I’ve been a little drunk on too much Moscato D’Asti. (I have not found a Champagne that I would drink over Moscato D’Asti. Though I do appreciate the different purpose of these 2 beverages. And yes the “D’Asti” is important. A moscato without “D’Asti” is N’Asti. And now I bet you won’t ever forget that I said this LOL.)
Anyway, here’s a summary of what I’ll be posting in the next few days, not necessarily in this order:
Birthday FreakingAwesome Week
Galboss Asia where I met and learned from the best. It was also held on my birthday so that was super! Look out for interviews with:
Celebrity, actress, businesswoman and Co-Founder of Galboss Asia, Andrea De Cruz;
Beauty industry disrupter, Skin Inc Global Founder and Co-Founder of Galboss Asia, Sabrina Tan; and
Founder of iconic streetwear brand, 77th Street and serial entrepreneur, Elim Chew.
My first Meet & Greet at CRIB with Co-founders Tjin Lee and Mei Chee
Y’know how sometimes you’re minding your own business, just going about your day and then somehow, someone decides to heap a pile of negativity on you?
Whether it is intentional or not is besides the point. It might be that they needed to discuss something with you, or they used you as a sounding board, or they were just complaining or commenting about something.
After they are done, you just feel like someone let the air out of your previously light hearted and positive disposition. And then you feel like you’re covered in someone’s shit.
When I didn’t know any better, I would just take everything in and then wonder why I feel terrible later. I’ve since realised that it is so important to protect myself and find a way to deflect such negativity instead of taking it in. Otherwise my day is disrupted and the person who suffers is me.
Here are 3 fuss-free ways that work for me when I need to get rid of negativity to have more constructive and meaningful days:
#1: Body Boost: Exercise
Although it might seem like a lot of effort when I’m in the middle of work, I’ve really found exercise to be worth the trouble. It doesn’t even have to be a full-on work out. It can just be walking very quickly around a shopping mall, or doing jumping jacks for 5 minutes.
To quote Elle Woods in Legally Blonde:
“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t.”
Or kill anyone else, for that matter.
#2: Beats: Listen To Music You Like (& Dance It Out!)
Currently, I love The Koi Boys. I can’t enjoy music and be negative at the same time. Music has always been a soothing balm for me. Just 5 or 10 minutes with my headphones and I’ll be good as new.
#3: Breathe: Good Stuff In, Bad Stuff Out
Smell affects me very much. What I like to do is get a cup of coffee, or some deliciously aromatic tea (depending on what’s available) and sit somewhere calming with it for 4 or 5 minutes.
An alternative is breathing in lavender oil or any other oils that I like and/or have with me.
The simple act of breathing in the good smells and breathing out is a real quick pick-me-up.
Life is only beautiful when you’ve had enough sleepgood quality sleep.
This is not just about not sleeping well or not sleeping enough. It’s about not sleeping enough because you have to look after your infant at night.
When I say “look after” it’s not just plugging the baby to a bottle of milk and being done with it. This is your baby, so you’d put her first before everything else i.e. making sure she’s sleeping in the correct position, checking on her when she fusses in her bed (which can be multiple times throughout the night), staying up with her for an hour or 2 when she tries to go back to sleep but can’t, etc.
(By the way, the sound of a crying baby and sleep deprivation are proven torture techniques.)
The net effect is I probably only get 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Even if I do get another 2 or 3 hours of sleep in addition to that, it is usually peppered with a night feed, baby soothing and checking on her.
And because you’re not sleeping well, falling sick is inevitable.
I am the worst at handling situations like this.
Everything becomes more prickly to handle. I am less patient and could care less about being understanding. My previously positive mindset and world view is automatically coloured and terribly negative. And when my mindset is negative, even the smallest challenge in my day can seem like a monumental task to overcome.
Then because I’m not at the top of my game, things don’t move as quickly as I want them to. And then I get frustrated and then I feel like giving up. And then I feel like telling people who tell me to slow down and smell the roses,”I already know what roses smell like! Next!”
You get the picture. I’m a grouch in such situations. Empire building while grumpy is not a good idea.
But what’s the solution to such madness?
Hack #1: Be Flexible
I’m a big list maker and planner, and for me to feel like I’ve achieved something meaningful, I would need to have accomplished tasks on the list within the stipulated deadline.
But I’ve learnt not to force it along according to plan because the end result is always a bigger mess than it was previously, if my mind is not in the right place. I need to be flexible.
Having a 3 month old baby is not something I can just gloss over and delegate at night for now. The consequences of this are big factors I need to take into consideration in all my lists and plans.
For example, instead of writing on my laptop, which is to me is easier, I have now mastered writing on my phone while I put the baby to sleep in the baby carrier. It’s a real time saver and I do love multi-tasking effectively.
Hack #2: Be Kind
I tend to forget how much energy it takes to look after an infant at night. This means me giving of myself, my sleep, my energy and my time. And that also means I need time to recharge and be kind to myself.
That is a tall order for someone who generally imposes exacting standards on herself. I don’t think there’s anyone tougher on me than me.
I’ve learnt that I need to step away and do something restful or rejuvenating first. Meditation. Exercise. Sleep. Get a massage. Go play golf. Look at things I like. Do something I like.
I have also realised that this recharging and being kind to myself thing is something I need to schedule in. Otherwise I will never have the stamina to go the distance that I want to.
Hack #3: Be Guilt-Free
Then the final thing is (and this is the toughest thing for me) to learn to stop feeling bad about these pit stops.
For this simple reason: I deserve these breaks.
I’ve learnt that feeling guilty and not taking any breaks for myself is just bad for business. I’m not as creative, I’m tired, I’m grouchy and I resent…well everything.
The application of these hacks might not be easy, but they are necessary. Let me know how they work out for you 🙂
I don’t have time to cook as much as I would like these days but when I do I try to involve the kids so we have something to do together. Making food is one of my favourite weekend indulgences. It’s relaxing, and I’m always amazed at how many good business ideas I come up with while bustling around in the kitchen.
The kids always want to help and the great thing about pizza is it’s easy for them to do so. Also, it’s a good trick to get your kids to try something they otherwise wouldn’t eat. My kids love to eat what they have helped to make.
One weekend when I saw figs on sale at the supermarket (rare sighting in Singapore!) I knew I had to try making Lorraine Pascal’s Fig, Prosciutto and Mozzarella Pizza. It might sound a little huh?? at first, but I guarantee the combination is absolutely yummy! Salty prosciutto, contrasted with the sweetness of the figs. The creaminess of the buffalo mozzarella is cut by the slightly tart tomato sauce base. Top that with fresh basil leaves and you get an unbelievably aromatic experience.
It’s lovely to eat on its own but if you want to kick it up a notch, I like to pair this with a fruity Sauvignon Blanc. The fruitiness matches the figs and the crispness contrasts with the creaminess of the cheese.
It’s the ultimate lunchtime indulgence.
This recipe is super easy to follow and it has 2 parts. 1) Make the pizza dough 2) Top the pizza and cook.
Part 1) Making The Pizza Dough
For the basic dough
250g/9oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling and drizzling
Mix the flour, salt and yeast together in a large bowl and make a well in the middle. In a jug, mix the water and oil together, then pour the liquid into the well of the flour mixture and mix to make a soft but not sticky dough.
Knead for 10 minutes by hand on a lightly floured work surface or for five minutes in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Bring the dough together to a smooth flat ball and place on a large, lightly floured baking tray.
Cover the pizza dough loosely with oiled clingfilm, making sure it is airtight. Leave in a warm but not hot place for 30–40 minutes.
TIP: If you have a mixer that has the hook attachment, I recommend that you use it to knead the dough. This is way less tiring and you can do other things whilst the mixer is kneading for you. But if you’re in need of some catharsis, kneading the dough by hand will do the trick.
Part 2) Topping The Pizza
This is the part where it’s easy for the kids to help out with minimum mess.
Remove the clingfilm from the dough and roll out to a 30cm/12in circle to knock some air out, then prick holes all over the dough with a fork. Spread over the tomato purée, leaving a 2.5cm/1in border, followed by the mozzarella, prosciutto and half of the figs.
Drizzle with oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, or until the bread is crisp and golden-brown and the cheese has melted. Scatter basil over the top and arrange the remaining figs on the pizza. Drizzle with oil.
Serve at the centre of the table so everyone can rip off their piece of Italian gold.
TIP: Be sure to use buffalo mozzarella or mozzarella balls. Don’t use regular grated mozzarella because it will be too salty and not at all creamy.
Anthony was a corporate affairs leader at Walmart. He transitioned from being a corporate leader to a writer, speaker and leadership expert, specifically women in leadership. His passion is to enable women to succeed.
He’s the also the author of bestselling book Break The Ceiling Touch The Sky. In this book, he’s compiled interviews with 43 of the world’s most inspirational women and from which he has gleaned their success secrets. (By the way, all proceeds go to Save The Children, which is an organisation that does great work for disadvantaged children around the world.)
In other words, for women who desire to break the ceiling and touch the sky, this book is a must-read! Learn from the likes of Chanda Kochhar, CEO of ICICI Bank, Dina Howell, CEO of Saatchi & Saactchi X, Cathy Smith, former CFO of Walmart International and many more.
By the way, this book has also evolved into an international summit of the same name. Its speakers feature senior executives from multinational corporations like Coca Cola, Walmart, Burberry, Kellogg, Spotify and so on. With opportunities to network with them and other business people, and a chance to learn from the best on how to be the best, it promises to be an amazing event!
Break The Ceiling Touch The Sky Summit details:
Venue: Shangri-La Hotel Singapore
Date: 29 August 2016, Monday
Time: 8.30am to 6pm
Ticket price: from $429.
To register, click here. By the way, I have 1 more ticket at my table going for $389. If you’re interested please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch the first video to find out the top 4 common traits of these highly successful women.
Opening day meant Annie would be there to open and introduce the exhibition and talk about her photographs. There was also a delicious lunch spread by Hyatt Hotel (cloth napkins and all). To reinforce the message of women in leadership, there was also a dialogue session with a panel of 4 women leaders from various sectors: the public service, the corporate world and of course the colourful entrepreneurial world. But more on this dialogue session in Part II.
I don’t know why but I’m always amazed when super successful people are humble and unassuming. As she spoke, she sounded even a tad shy about showing off her work, calling it “a little boring“. She’s the kinda person who seemed like she’d be happy to have a casual drink with, well, just anyone.
I’d for sure count her as a supermamapreneur – she’s got this amazing career and 3 girls. From the 15 minutes that we got to spend with her, this video carries the most important message: We Are Really Incredible.
To have that kind of mindset and to give your own children that kind of environment and mindset from a young age benefits everyone beyond measure.
It’s not “we will be”, nor is it “we were”. It is “we are”.
Please excuse the angle of the video. I was so mesmerised by her photos flashing on the giant screens that I forgot to save a good seat for myself.
Transcript: (this isn’t a full transcript because of the sound quality of the video. Can’t hear everything but I’ve put in subtitles where I can, and where it matters).
“.. the other women, as it continues, is really the list of bios. If you get a chance to read these bios, they are really … and to really see how incredible these women…actually, how incredible WE are. We are really incredible. You all deserve your own set of bios. These women are just mirrors of you. “
Unfortunately I didn’t manage to take a photo with her, though maybe it’s not such a bad thing – I don’t know how this world renowned photographer feels about selfies. And because she’s the photographer would it be rude to take the photo myself instead of asking her? (Mmhmm, you wouldn’t want to be in my head)
Anyway here are other photos for your viewing pleasure. I’m not one to be taken in easily by art on walls or photographs, but with her collection, I just couldn’t stop looking and looking.
Me: Kaius, tell me about the artwork you brought back from school.
Kaius: It’s an ant. It has 3 parts. Head, thorax and abdomen.
Me: (Thinking: he’s not even 4 and he knows the word “thorax”??) Oh wow ok.
Kaius: let’s use bendy straws to make
its antennas. They need antennas to talk to other ants.
As much as I am completely amazed at the stuff my son knows (smart kid!), I have also realised that if I don’t pay attention to him (even though it’s really tough at times to do so), I will miss all these magnificent moments.
2 sick toddlers + 1 newborn does not a happy Mama make! I swear it’s the Universe’s way of pointing and laughing at me,
“HA. HA. HA. Supermamapreneur that.”
2 sick toddlers + 1 newborn does not a happy Mama make! I swear it’s the Universe’s way of pointing and laughing at me,
“HA. HA. HA. Supermamapreneur that.”
This is when running a business from home and mothering is a mishmash mountain of Icky, Sticky and Tricky.
#1: ICKY – When they are sick
This always happens to me. Two out of two. The 2 times I had newborns when there was already an older child around, the older child(ren) would get sick.
When Allegra was born, Kaius caught the dreaded Hand, Foot & Mouth disease (HFMD) when Allegra was barely a week old. He had the ulcers in his mouth and throat. But the most worrying thing was HFMD can be fatal for newborns. Luckily, Allegra didn’t get HFMD but she caught a mild version of the flu. The poor thing had a fever, cough and also a stuffy nose when she was not even a month old.
When Alexa was born, both Kaius and Allegra caught some bug from school which inevitably turned into bronchitis. They had to use the nebuliser for medication and were also on antibiotics. Alexa ended up with a stuffy nose.
I spent my confinement month* with all three kids at home (this was sonot the plan!), and ferrying the kids to and fro from home to the paediatrician.
Somedays I brought just Alexa for her routine newborn check up, other days, 2 kids, and on really great days, all 3 kids would have to go.
Imagine the bills. And the whining (from Mama too).
#2: STICKY – When medication (& puke) ends up everywhere
I wish there was a magic formula to help young kids understand that if they scream and scream to avoid taking their medicines, they will cough and cough, and then they will puke and puke.
ALL OVER THE FLOOR.
Their bed. Mybed.
Y (insert appropriate expletive) W H E R E.
Kaius is 3+, so he understands that he has to take his medicine to get better and the nebuliser is part of that process. He’s calm and takes what he needs to without drama. But to be fair he’s not a dramatic kid.
My spunky Allegra on the other hand, hated taking the powdery notsonicetasting antibiotics and using the nebuliser. She would scream and cry and shout and fight each time she had to take her medication. We’d usually have to carry her and let her watch some TV to distract her.
So many times each medicine session would last 30 minutes and end with her in a pile of sobs and covered in sticky medicine and me exhausted. And y’know what’s the most “fun” part? When you think you finally got her to swallow her medicine, but she chokes and sputters and then pukes everything out. Which means you’ll have to do it all.over.again.
But I also had to remind myself that she’s sick and not even 2 years old, so she’s allowed to be afraid and cranky and difficult.
Oh and since my office is at home, my poor gem of an assistant had to work through all the commotionpandemonium.
By the way, I will gladly pay money to anyone who can make antibiotics for kids in gummy form. My kids LOVE gummies and it will save Mummies everywhere the heartache of having to force medicine down their kids’ throats.
#3: TRICKY – When EVERYONE wants Mummy
And you know it wouldn’t help even if you could clone Mummy because the clone probably wouldn’t have the same smell as Mummy.
This was the most tricky for me.
I had the newborn to attend to, and to get breastmilk production going for.
I had the aftermath of the birth to deal with – yes, painful boobs, stitches where nobody wants to have stitches (Google “episiotomy” at your own risk!), and just generally trying to bounce back quickly.
Then I had the 2 older children who just wanted to be near me because it made them feel better.
But because I couldn’t afford to get sick (cos if I do everything will fall apart), I couldn’t spend too much time with them also. They had to settle for brief cuddles instead of dozing off in the same room as me and Alexa.
The crying. The whinging.
On top of that, the Boss, I need your approval on this and that & what’s our marketing plan now? type questions. (Having the baby earlier than expected always brings about planning nightmares for work. And it doesn’t help when sometimes it is difficult to focus to get good ideas for marketing.)
There isn’t a quick fix for this. Only taking it 1 day at a time. Sometimes 1 hour or 1 minute at a time.
The general plan is usually this: When the shit hits the fan, eliminate shit maker(s), switch off the fan and then clean up the mess.
And when it is allover, we celebrate by going shopping!
*In Chinese cultures, the “confinement month” refers to post-natal care which lasts between 28 to 40 days. Usually, the mother is encouraged to stay at home to recover from the birth. During this time, a special diet is prepared and herbal medicines brewed to help her regain her strength and vitality. Everything is specially prepared including herbal and/or lemongrass baths, red date tea (that is drunk in place of plain water) and green papaya fish soup to encourage milk production. The confinement nanny is hired to do all these things for the mother and to also help look after the newborn for 28 days, typically.