Tell us more about Papilla Haircare and Illumia Therapeutics, which you started this year.
I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit in me. I’m excited by beauty trends and creating, packaging, and designing. These are all the fun parts. I also wanted to find a means to sustain my charities and having a stable, successful business is a way I can achieve many of my hopes and dreams.
Speaking of which, giving back and getting involved with charities is nothing new for you. Could you tell us about some of the causes you’ve been passionate about?
I’ve been involved with charities for seniors and the needy for a long time. Recently, I’ve included those in essential services — cleaners, security guards, and the unsung heroes. I’ve been doing food drops for healthcare workers, police stationed at dorms, and hospitals during this time. Just to thank them for risking themselves during this period, show appreciation and spur them on.
I believe that everyone has the right to spend their money and time in the way they please, and for me, the way I want to conduct myself is to do what I can, and to contribute to those who need it the most and speak up for those who cannot be heard.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in the recent months?
COVID-19 is a big reality check for me. I never imagined things would go South so quickly. My first worry was my family — many of my family members are elderly, like my ah-ma, who is 100 years old. I still needed to work, as my business is a new set-up and my staff needed me — so I decided to isolate myself from my grandparents and parents by staying in a hotel for a month. This was in March.
I also have a young son, Kyden, who is two years old. Being away from him for a month was very tough — it’s dreadful for a parent to be isolated from her child. But these are some sacrifices I had to make. Business-wise, I suddenly found myself struggling — my hopes and dreams became a faraway thought and it was down to pure survival. I think I’m stronger and more equipped to cope with challenges now.
The key lessons you’ve learnt are...
Be nimble, and pivot your business. Use technology, and move online. My team accelerated the launch of our e-store to the second week of the Circuit Breaker — this helped to bring in some revenue, which is good, because every bit counts.
The good news is nothing lasts forever. And the bad news is: nothing lasts forever! Fortunes can change overnight. We have seen that long-standing businesses can fail; even big household names can close. We must not take things for granted. Life is fragile, I have friends who passed away during this period and I was unable to pay my respects. I cried alone. Treasure the important things like family and friends.
There are those who wish to press fast forward on 2020...
Mixed feelings to be honest, there have been many ups and downs. There is no need to fast forward, I will take 2020 in my stride, look positively at the lessons learnt and keep my chin up.
When it comes to jewellery, what are your personal preferences?
I like gold, and simple and classic designs.
Self-care has been quite a buzz word during this time...
I’m known as a “Mask Queen”, and this was even more so when all the beauty salons were closed. Skincare is very important to me as I believe it’s more worthwhile to have good skin than to rely on make-up. My masks and serums are a regular part of my routine, and keeping up with machine treatments is important for me. I also do hour-long brisk walks daily. It helps me clear my mind and I feel refreshed afterwards.
Editor-in-Chief Ian Lee
Photography Joel Low
Styling Evon Chng
Hair David Gan / Passion Hair Salon
Makeup Melissa Yeo using Chanel
Photography Assistant Alfie Pan
Styling Assistant Karin Tan
Special thanks to Hay Dairies