30 October 2014

Sweet Dreams




Alicia, Brand Manager, Jacket from H&M, Top from Al et Clar.

When Alicia isn’t busy at work, she’s busy running her own online boutique, which involves sourcing trips to Seoul where she looks for up-and-coming young designers, with fashion-forward styles suitable for the everyday woman. “I started the store because I wanted to bring in quality pieces and unique designs that people could incorporate into their work wardrobe,” she says. Alicia is quite the busy bee, but her love for fashion keeps her going in both her day job and her side project. “I've always loved fashion, and appreciated how clothes are designed and constructed. It's an art,” she says. “I love that I'm constantly exposed to the latest fashion and trends, and it keeps me inspired to work towards my dream of starting my own label.” Beyond her passion, Alicia says that she’s thankful for a strong support group that gets her through her 12-hour workdays. “I try to manage my time by doing things on the go and taking time off to just pamper myself when I really need a break,” she says. And the three little words that give her an extra push when she really needs it? “Don’t stop dreaming.”

29 October 2014

The Business Times x Shentonista — High Spirits


Farah, Manager, Dress from Zara, Bracelet from Pandora.

Farah starts off each day at her company by motivating her staff to simply be happy. “Happiness is contagious,” she says. “When you're happy, I strongly believe that your clients will pick up on that and in return, be happy too!” Even in this simple little black dress, amped up with a statement necklace, her wide smile and relaxed demeanour make it easy to see how Farah does it. She manages JustOffice, which she describes as something like service apartments, but for different companies and clients. It’s something that she likens to her dream job, having left her previous one after 17 years. “It took a lot of guts and a huge pay cut to step away, and I was able to make that major career move through encouragement from friends and family. It wasn't easy, but I did it. And I’m glad I did,” Farah says. “I get a sense of fulfillment, pride, and satisfaction when I am able to assist someone, and hopefully make their day.” We speak to Farah to find out more about what makes her tick.

1. What is your favourite part of your job, and your least favourite, and why?
The rapport and relationship that I've built with my clients. It's amazing to meet different types of people from different cultures. Least favourite? None actually, because when you love what you do, what is there not to enjoy!
  
2. What drives and inspires you to continue to do what you do, day in and out?
That smile and when your clients say thank you and appreciate what you and your team do everyday, giving them only the best. We have to justify why they chose the company I am working for as their preferred service office, so I would want my clients to think that they are my guests, in my humble home. My job is to make them feel welcome and comfortable, and for my team and I to be the hostess with the most-est!

3. What challenges do you face at work on a day-to-day basis? What challenges do you foresee in the long run?
Everybody as we know is different, from your peers to your bosses and clients. It will be impossible to please everybody, but I certainly do try. Its all about managing their expectations. It's an art if I may say so.

4. What do you think about entrepreneurship in Singapore? Eg. Are there more opportunities for entrepreneurs? Is it becoming easier or more difficult for people to start their own businesses?
I think people in Singapore are generally more open and accepting to new things. Entrepreneurship shows hard work, determination, and bravery in more ways than one. It is important to give these entrepreneurs all the support they need; some of them leave comfortable, well-paying jobs to take a leap of faith that might or might not make it. Giving them credit for taking that leap is more than what they could ask for, and it's a battle half won, in my opinion.

5. If there’s one piece of advice you would like to give anyone who is just starting his/her career, or his/her own business, what would it be? Or, what is the one most important thing you’ve learnt in your years at work? 
Take that leap of faith and learn something from it. If it's not meant for you, try something else. But never stop trying. One piece of advice someone once told me was to never, ever burn bridges with your previous boss, manager, or employer. You never know whats in store in the future. Leave with a firm handshake and a 'thank you', and don't forget to smile!

6. Describe your usual workplace style in three words. 
Effort does wonders!









7. If you could wear a uniform of sorts to work for the rest of your life, what would that outfit consist of, and why?
Wearing a uniform portrays a sense of belonging. It's something you be proud to wear when you're representing your organisation. In my opinion, that uniform has to be comfortable, up to date, fashion-forward, and with a hint of sexiness. Classy, not cheesy.

8. Do you have any philosophies, mottoes or quotes that you’re living by right now?
I've got tons, to be honest! My top three are: firstly, fate will take you somewhere, but the rest is up to you to make it happen. Secondly, no question is too small or stupid. And finally, fall. Don't be afraid; what have you got to lose? Just get up, and move on. 

This is a Shentonista project for The Business Times, supported by Ermenegildo Zegna.


28 October 2014

CLUB 21 x SHENTONISTA — Sartorial Contest Winners



The winner of the Club 21 x Shentonista Sartorial Contest is Sipei (@ohhdivine), with special mention and runner-up prizes going to Denise (@denisestardust) and Desiree (@decadentdrama).

This marks the end of our campaign with Club 21; we'd like to thank our candidates for gamely being a part of the journey, and to everyone else who joined in the fun along the way.

To see all of the Club 21 x Shentonista posts, visit here.

This is a Shentonista project for Club 21.

27 October 2014

The Business Times x Shentonista — The Builder


YC, Property, Top from Margaret Howell, Shoes from Yuketen.

YC says that he “just fell into” his current job as a director of The Bamboo Group, a real estate investment and development company. “It was a very organic process,” he says. “I’ve always liked working with spaces—architecture, construction, experience design—and it was natural that I continued.” At the same time, however, YC knows that being an entrepreneur is a very deliberate choice. “It’s never easy, but I wanted to have control, autonomy, and the thrill of directly dialoguing with market forces,” he says. “There is a certain joy in that kind of dialogue, but also the brutality of failure.” Next up on his plate is a project that he’s “pretty excited about”: a hybrid co-working, private office business called The Working Capitol. Founded by YC and the other members of his company, he hopes that this new space will be able to bring interesting businesses together and promote a cross-pollination of ideas, across different industries, to add value to the business landscape here in Singapore. “It’s going to be a fun, organic community,” he says. “I get to meet so many interesting people every day — from our consultants and contractors, to our tenants and potential collaborators. It keeps me pumped.” We learn more from YC as he shares about himself and his work.


1. Describe a typical day at work.
A typical day at work consists of me going in to the office in the morning to touch base with the team, to find out what’s happening, and what needs to be done. The later part of the day consists of actually getting things done—meetings, site visits, more meetings, and working with our various consultants and vendors. 

2. What drives and inspires you to continue to do what you do, day in and out?
The quest for knowledge, wisdom through learning, and experimenting with ideas through the market place. It's an endless pursuit.



3. What challenges do you face at work on a day-to-day basis? What challenges do you foresee in the long run?
Challenges abound! Dealing with market forces, people, understanding new trends and acting on them. 

4. What do you think about entrepreneurship in Singapore? Eg. Are there more opportunities for entrepreneurs? Is it becoming easier or more difficult for people to start their own businesses?
We shouldn’t put entrepreneurship on a pedestal. The spirit of entrepreneurship boils down to a certain propensity to take risks, seek thrills, and enjoy the process of conversing with people in the market. If someone enjoys that, that someone is an entrepreneur. I think the ease of starting a business today is the same as it was a thousand years ago.





5. If there’s one piece of advice you would like to give anyone who is just starting his/her career, or his/her own business, what would it be? Or, what is the one most important thing you’ve learnt in your years at work? 
Its important to have honesty in believing in the product or service you are putting out. One has to also be unreasonably stubborn, moving against the tide of people who don’t yet see what your vision is. And of course, re-looking at failure as something key and integral to the process of growth and maturity.

6. Describe your usual workplace style in three words. 
Community. Organic. Fun.



7. If you could wear a uniform of sorts to work for the rest of your life, what would that outfit consist of, and why?
Definitely something more utilitarian and site/context specific. I'm extremely rugged with the objects around me!

8. Do you have any philosophies, mottoes or quotes that you’re living by right now?
Thinking needs to be balanced out by doing. 

This is a Shentonista project for The Business Times, supported by Ermenegildo Zegna.

26 October 2014

SHENTONISTA Trend of the Week: Atypical


Featuring: Ernie, Wye, Charmaine, and Renee

At first glance it might seem that the people in this week's round-up don't have much in common, but that's precisely the thing that sets them apart from the crowd. Whether it was a daring go against the usual office garb, in the form of a playful, embellished sleeveless dress and flat metallic sandals, or a hat set just right and a breezy, unbuttoned vest over the most comfortable tank top and leggings, or a camouflage-inspired bag and sock-less driving shoes that toned down a tailored outfit, or a carefully-curated collection of tattoos that added that much more personality to a simple outfit, each of these people weren't afraid to stand out, and we're glad that they do. 

25 October 2014

The Bookkeeper






Renee, Manager, Top H&M, Pants H&M, Shoes H&M, Watch ASOS.


It seems that we might be exposing Renee’s secret; she’s kept her tattoos hidden from her parents for about 4 years. She got her first tattoo at the age of 18, and went on to get tattoos in Latin and in Greek. “I’m not a very big fan of English,” she says. Slightly ironic, perhaps, given that she’s been working in a bookstore for about as long as she’s been keeping her tattoos under wraps. “I love how I start work every morning to the smell of books, dust, and sometimes, very faintly, cat litter,” she says. And lest you mistake working in a bookstore as every book-lover’s dream, Renee is quick to brush aside any misconceptions. “We don’t actually get to read,” she says. “After four years of working seven days a week, I think I can safely call myself a workaholic.” She muses about moving to “some godforsaken part of Japan” and becoming a farmer, leading a laborious, but simple and meaningful life, if she wasn’t currently working here. Either that, or becoming a lighthouse keeper. Wherever she ends up, Renee’s quote of the moment is: “May the space between where I am and where I want to be inspire me.”

24 October 2014

The Business Times x Shentonista — Fundamental


Charmaine, Creative Consultancy, Bag from Solphie Hulme, Necklace from Marni.

Charmaine has the incredible pleasure of being able to work with close friends and family. The six of them, including her brother and husband, came together to start Elementary Co., a company that she describes as a one-stop shop” that works with clients on every aspect of branding and marketing — from design, photography, and copywriting, to strategising advertising campaigns, launches, and events. After working for five years at a large corporation, Charmaine decided that a change was due. “I very much wanted to be part of an intimate collective, where everybody's individual voices could be heard and efforts recognized,” she says. My brother, husband and I had on numerous occasions talked about wanting to start a business together, one that allowed us to pool our different areas of expertise together to work on creative problem solving.” We speak with Charmaine to find out more about why she does what she does, all while waiting to welcome the newest member of her family.

1. Describe a typical day at work.
My work day starts in bed, at around 8.45am which is when I wake up and start replying emails. If I have specific tasks for the team I then send them a list of tasks for the day in our group chat, and I continue answering emails while I get ready and then make my way to the office with my husband. We are out for meetings with clients quite often but if not, you'll find me at my desk working on proposals and quotes, or walking in and out of the office that our creatives occupy to bounce ideas off them and review the projects they're working on. I don't stay in the office past 7pm — even if there's lots of work to be done, I make it a point to have dinner with my husband, family, or friends, and then continue working at home later at night. I've never been one to sleep early and find that I concentrate better late at night anyway, so that's when I work on larger, more important projects and proposals.
  
2. What is your favourite part of your job, and your least favourite, and why?
The best part of my job is being able to work with people that I truly love and respect, people who are so passionate about their work and who in turn inspire me to be better at everything that I set out to do. I also love that I am able to directly impact the growth of our client's businesses with the ideas we come up with collectively — seeing those ideas come to life thrills me every single time. The least favourite part of my job? I honestly cannot list anything I dislike about what I do right now. 






3. Can you tell us about one milestone in your company or career? Something that you’re most proud of, perhaps.
We've not yet hit the one year mark at Elementary Co., but in the short 11 months that we've been open, we managed to win a fairly large account after going up against a number of big boys in the advertising world. We are incredibly humbled that they decided to take a gamble on such a young company, but seeing how my team banded together to work on round after round of presentations, and how they grew through the experience made me incredibly proud of how far we've come in such a short amount of time.

4. What drives and inspires you to continue to do what you do, day in and out?
The enthusiasm of my team mates and the shared passion that we have in wanting to help our clients present their brands and engage with their audiences in the best possible way is what keeps me excited and inspired. 


5. What challenges do you face at work on a day-to-day basis? What challenges do you foresee in the long run?
We constantly face clients who do not value the creative process and how much time and effort it takes to come up with great designs, a well-functioning website or a proper campaign strategy. Everyone just wants things done fast and for cheap, so we spend a lot of time having to explain the process to them, or justifying timelines and costs. The internet has also allowed clients to crowdsource for the cheapest freelance designers, and there are even apps now that allow you to develop logos and design collaterals for as little as $25! 

6. What do you think about entrepreneurship in Singapore? Eg. Are there more opportunities for entrepreneurs? Is it becoming easier or more difficult for people to start their own businesses?
I personally know and work with a lot of people that that are running their own small businesses, and I generally think that starting your own shop isn't impossible in Singapore. I think there are several things that work in our favour here, such as the large proportion of people connected online (making marketing yourself easier), a very straightforward access to government grants, as well as the things that we tend to take for granted, like our very dependable infrastructure. The things that are not in our favour here however, are rent and increasing labour costs, which are probably the two primary restricting factors or challenges to scaling up.
7. If there’s one piece of advice you would like to give anyone who is just starting his/her career, or his/her own business, what would it be? Or, what is the one most important thing you’ve learnt in your years at work? 
Partner with or hire talented people that make up where you are lacking. Ultimately, (almost) nobody knows everything there is to know, nor is able to do everything in the running of a business. 

8. Describe your usual workplace style in three words. 
Casual but elegant, and comfortable. 

9. If you could wear a uniform of sorts to work for the rest of your life, what would that outfit consist of, and why?
A perfectly tailored white shirt ala Jil Sander, black cigarette pants and gold jewellery. It's appropriate for all occasions — I just need to change up my footwear to make it casual or formal!

10. Do you have any philosophies, mottoes or quotes that you’re living by right now?
"Everything in its own place and time."


This is a Shentonista project for The Business Times, supported by Ermenegildo Zegna.