May Wan, in her 30s

Seraphina’s

3 Mums Whose Business Was Inspired By Their Children (2)
May Wan, mum-of-two, former model, actress and veejay, set up Seraphina’s, which customises cakes for all occasions.

RUFFLES AND ROSES

“My twin Choy has always been an avid baker, so I always had an appreciation for cakes. We spent a large part of our childhood watching baking shows and trying out different cake recipes. Three years ago, my sister-in-law  wanted to buy a ruffles and rose cake for my mother-in-law’s birthday. She showed me photos, and I was so blown away by the intricate details I offered to make one for her. For weeks I trawled the web for cake decorating tutorials. When I finally presented my rose cake at my mother-in-law’s party, everyone was impressed. It sparked off a whole new personal pursuit.”

SPURRED ON BY HER KIDS

“Whenever I need an opinion about a cake flavour or decoration, I ask my five- and three-year-old daughters Leala and Siena: ‘Is it sweet enough?’, ‘Does it need more lemon juice?’ They are very honest with me, so I can count on them. Leala also has this dream of flying business class, so that motivates me to make Seraphina’s successful, so I can someday afford the air tickets.”

ONE-WOMAN SHOW

“I’m currently a one-woman show. I do everything from the baking and cake decorating to the washing up and deliveries. Because I’m such a micro manager, I find it hard to trust people to do a job for me. Choy is a great baker, yet whenever she helps me, I end up nagging at her from the back. I even insist on personally delivering the cake right up to my customer’s table if I can, just to make sure it survives the turns, humps and sudden jerks along the drive.”

NEW WORK BALANCE

“Seraphina’s became more fully operative this February, after I moved out of my home kitchen, into a central kitchen. I had to separate my work from my home because the increasing demand for cakes was taking away my bonding time with my girls, on the weekends. With a central kitchen and professional equipment, I’m also way more efficient. I work at the central kitchen while the girls are at school. Then I  take the cakes home and do the buttercream decoration at night, when they’re asleep.”

SUPPORTIVE FAMILY

“My husband is my biggest supporter. We don’t have a helper so it can get quite nutty at times. On busy days, he’ll drive me around to make deliveries or he’ll look after our children when I’m busy meeting orders – not a single complaint. And I’m grateful my parents, twin sister and in-laws are always a call away if I need help with the washing or the kids. Having a network like this is really important to me.”

To see May’s amazing cake creations, visit her blog, or get in touch with her here

Jessica Tang, in her 40s

C’est Moi

3 Mums Whose Business Was Inspired By Their Children (3)
Jessica Tang, mum-of-three, created C’est Moi professional skincare and performance makeup for kids.

HER DAUGHTER’S SENSITIVE SKIN SPARKED HER IDEA

“Back when Annabele was five, she had to put on makeup for a ballet performance. She had a full day of rehearsals, so she slapped on cosmetics in the morning, even though her performance wasn’t until 7 pm. By night time, her skin had become swollen and she broke out in angry rashes. I realised there wasn’t any professional makeup and skincare in the market that was gentle enough for children’s delicate skin. This became the genesis of C’est Moi.  I wanted to create a dedicated line of professional-quality skincare and cosmetics for kids, to let them pursue their passion for performance.”

KEEP ON WORKING ON IT

“Starting a new business is a ton of work. You need to pump in lots of money and time, plus persuade a lot of people to believe in an imaginary product. My husband and I also run a toy distributing company, so when we started, all our money was parked there. But with some help from Spring Singapore, we managed to pull together the $1.3 million capital that we needed to launch C’est Moi. Then it took us another three years of research and testing with a biochemist to finally succeed in getting the right formulas. C’est Moi was launched last December, seven years after the idea first hit me.”

WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR?

“I didn’t come from rich parents or a family of businessmen. I was taught that you have to earn everything you want. So I gradually became business-minded. My first start-up was when I was 14 years old –  I sold roses to shoppers along Orchard Road during the festive season. I had eight staff members, who were all my friends. They were all aged around 10 years old. We would make up to $2,000 in a month, which was huge money in 1984. Later on, I started businesses with my husband Paul. We supplied bicycles and kids’ trucks and ran an underwear store while establishing our toy distributing business.”

ROLE MODEL

“I look up to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, for being so fiercely passionate and dedicated. I also believe that with sheer determination, nothing is ever impossible.”

C’est Moi is sold at Metro Centrepoint, Level 6, The American Club and the School Of Music.

Mary Lin, in her 40s

Glitter Glam, Mary Had A Little Lamb

3 Mums Whose Business Was Inspired By Their Children
Mary Lin, mum-of-one and owner of Glitter Glam fashion brand, launched a mother-and-child outfit collection called Mary Had A Little Lamb.

DRESSING UP HER PRINCESS

“When my four-year-old daughter Isabella was born, I became obsessed with dressing her up. I took pride in planning her outfits for each outing. For her first birthday, I wanted us to wear the same dresses as a symbol of our bond. But I couldn’t find any matching clothes. I was already designing women’s fashions under my label Glitter Glam, and I had the idea of shrinking my women’s designs into mini versions. I called this new line of matching fashion after Isabella’s favourite nursery rhyme – Mary Had A Little Lamb.”

CUES FROM FROZEN

“Isabella loved dressing up in Mary Had A Little Lamb clothes until she saw the Disney movie Frozen. Now she’s sometimes picking Elsa’s dress over my designs… but I don’t mind. In fact, it’s inspired me to design some dresses in that icy blue hue. Sometimes when I run out of ideas, I ask Isabella for help. She always has great ideas.”

FROM PUSHCART TO BUSINESS

“I’ve always loved fashion and sewing. I had mastered the sewing machine at 14 years old and I would alter garments for my friends and stitch little buttons or ribbons onto their blouses or school uniforms. The seed of Glitter Glam started when I was working as an accounts director at a national broadcasting station. I loved fashion so much that I was also running a pushcart business on the side, selling glittery evening wear. The demand was so good that I took the gamble, quit my job and opened my first boutique at AMK Hub, selling my own designs. Shortly after, Isetan asked me to sell my dresses at their departmental stores. Thus my label Glitter Glam was born.”

MY FLEXIBLE DAY

“The good thing about starting your own business is that you have the flexibility to work from home, or you can take your child to work. I wake up at 7 am and do my 10-minute workout regime. Then I respond to emails before sending Isabella to school by 10 am. I then go to the office or run errands before her school ends around 2.30 pm. Isabella will hang out with me at the office or we visit the Glitter Glam boutique at Harbourfront Centre. We’re usually home by 6 pm for dinner so Isabella can eat and get ready for her enrichment classes in the evening. Sometimes we will just read together until her bedtime.”

Mary Had A Little Lamb is available at Glitter Glam boutique, #02-110 HarbourFront Centre.

Text: Sylvia Ong / The Singapore Women’s Weekly May 2015
Photos: Chia Yoon Nyen


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