So I've been in Singapore for 26 days.
Given the size, efficiency, and how business friendly Singapore is,
I've been able to get a lot done.
I've made friends, I'm happy to live an enriching spiritual life,
I found shops to buy really nice dresses,
I've met great people that are helping me with my business,
I sold out my inventory of products, provided hair care service for
a young client whose mixed-raced as her mother done a great job
keeping her hair healthy, just need my styling services and how-to-tips
for managing mixed race hair!
And even found a great doctor to get a check up!
(I love how you can walk into a hospital and see a doctor and pay via cash!)
I have an idea of what neighborhood
to settle in :)
My Next Steps
I've gotten very far, with very little money and
resources (thanks to divine intervention), so
my next steps (working progress) are to:
1. Register/incorporate my business,
2. Get an Employment Pass (EP),
3. Rent a shophouse, so I could live where I work,
4. Team building for S'pore and Bangkok
5. Reopen my online shop and operations to scale
Time and Patience
Doing all these, will take more than 26 days, for sure.
And I'm just taking everything one step at a time
as I want to build my life and business in Singapore.
So I'm playing for the long-term.
As I shared last week, I met a potential investor
I will be going on an adventure to see if
there will be a mutual partnership to grow Yummy Blair Cosmetics.
Like New Zealand, my next place is quite far off,
but beautiful, business friendly, and on the African continent :)
Thanks for reading!
Tough Times Don't Last Forever
It's amazing how much has happened, last week I was living "hand to mouth."
If I didn't sell products I couldn't take the bus or go grocery shopping.
And, in the course of 7 days (thanks to divine intervention),
hard work, patience, being in the right places, at the right time,
meeting the right people, a lot has changed for the better :)
To be clear, I'm still staying on my friend's couch,
I can now take the bus and buy groceries (on the street market),
also, I went to "Little India" to get properly groomed: got my eyebrows done
and hair cut (both way over due!), so I'm still a struggling entrepreneur,
I'm just more groomed and have the basics covered :)
So What Happened?
I took a much needed pivot and was ruthlessly honest with my ability
to build and scale the business in Asia. So I started all over with the business.
No more Healthy Hair Asia/Yummy Blair Cosmetics,
everything that I built prior to coming to Singapore is in the past and recorded as (R&D)
I unpublished my Healthy Hair Asia Facebook page, that had about 600 "Likes" and "Followers,"
I thanked my customers for their business and support
over the years, and to "Like"my new page/shop
Yummy Blair Cosmetics,
I also discontinued my the fresh vegan products,
as I will be taking the business in a new direction.
New Business: Yummy Blair Cosmetics
And with a clean slate, I started again. I scheduled an appointment with Sleek,
a corporate secretary and accounting firm founded by entrepreneurs who know exactly the
challenges of starting a business in Singapore for foreign founders.
So, I'm in the processes of incorporating and registering my business in Singapore.
I also have a business mentor (an honest and genuine one this time),
that is helping me craft my business plan, how to talk to investors and scaling the business.
But I'm not done yet!
Right Place, Right Time
I'm honestly surprised I've been able to get this far in my journey as an entrepreneur.
I don't believe in luck, or hard work alone being the only way to succeed,
rather a combination of timing, divine intervention, hard work, and good people in your life.
So far, my time from New Zealand to Singapore,
people that I haven't talked to in years, friends, and friends of friends
have come into my life at the right time.
Step One: Incorporating the business
When I sat with Sleek, they gave me the
costs and numbers for incorporation, getting a corporate secretary, securing a visa,
tax compliance, capital needed, it became a moment of truth.
If I was going to move forward, I would need about $2,600
to start (as a non-resident/non EP holder in Singapore)
and have yearly and monthly charges. I went home to think, first step incorporation,
next getting a visa to live in Singapore. And that requires a lot of capital ($80k-$100k).
I remained positive, because I've gotten this far, my faith is in G-d.
Step 2: Find Investment Opportunity
I really want to settled down in Singapore
have my own place to live (not that a free couch is bad, but I'm 29 and want to settle down)
So, I get a message, from a university friend that I haven't talked to
in about 6/7 years, we did Model United Nations together, and since
he's not on social media, I completely forgot about him.
Wait, let me go back,
this actually starts when I was in New Zealand.
"Out of the blue", I get a message from this university friend,
asking how was life post-university and he shared that he started a few businesses.
He was curious to see if I was still in Thailand since he had a connection flight
from Ulaanbaatar to Cape Town, and wanted to catch up in person.
I asked, "what's in Ulaanbaatar? Unless one is in the mining business what's there??
(note, I also studied with some Mongolian and other international students, at the same time when I met him,
so I know there are people and a life in Mongolia)
He shared he started a mining business, and sold some minerals through Singapore.
So I shared my adventures and how I was planning to move to Singapore to rebuild my business.
In fact we should catch up when he's in Singapore. I didn't hear back from him until yesterday,
he apologize and was traveling in Antarctica (this is a developing story).
Long story short, apparently over the years he's been quite successful
professionally and as an investor.
I asked if he ever invested in cosmetics and beauty, it's big business!
And I pitched my business and potential of the Asian beauty market.
The potential for investment is too early to write about,
I'm still a bit overwhelmed by how much has changed over the last 7 days,
but I will say next month I will be going on a new adventure (clue, in a continent I never been to before!)
to secure this potential investment.
And finally be at a stage in my journey to build and scale my business throughout Asia :)
As always, thank you for reading and your support!
12 Days, So Much Done!
I've been in Singapore for 12 days.
It's a small, walkable, and very business friendly country.
And so far, in the span of 12 days,
I moved 3 times.
Starting in a hostel, then to a friend's place,
and now staying at a friend of a friend who lives in a
beautiful modern co-living space.
Though my housing situation is temporary,
it's more secure,
as I was walking "home" the other day,
I saw a sign on a shophouse for rent.
My Dream: Yummy Blair Cosmetics Shophouse
I wanted to rent a shophouse when I was in Bangkok,
that wasn't possible, for various reasons: location,
lack of capital, etc.
In Singapore, it's definitely a possibility.
My goal is to have my
headquarters and distribution in Singapore
with a subsidiary in Bangkok
where Yummy Blair Cosmetics will be manufactured.
When I was in South Korea,
I saw for myself that retail and online shops can work,
when both are done, very well.
And I can do both well in a shophouse!
And with a simple email, and prompt reply (things here operate so fast!)
I was able to connect with an agent and
now I'm looking at affordable shophouses.
Even if it's out of reach,
it's something I can work towards over the nest 3 years :)
Finding My Tribe
Connecting with people is very easy in Singapore,
there many meetup events, startup events, women in business groups
some say too many women in business groups!
Another interesting thing,
is the diversity of people and religion in Singapore.
If you're part of a religious or ethnic community,
you can connect with people and find your tribe.
There are Buddhists, Muslim, Indians, Chinese, Malays,
Jews, Hindus, Christians, and even Atheist here,
so if your looking to live in Singapore, I think to
maintain a healthy spiritual, professional, and family life you
should be part of some kind of community
of people that shares your values.
So on shabbat I always
have a community to pray and eat with,
I've already been to a Bar Mitzvah,
I met women from all around the world with
fascinating stories and careers that have made Singapore their home.
It's a great feeling to find a "family away from home."
Step by Step!
My approach since being in Singapore
is take everything one step at a time.
I've met people who've been in Singapore for a few months
and others who have been here over 20 years.
Everyone has a different start, and
I have a lot to do, and thinking about
trying to accomplish everything: housing, securing a visa,
registering my business, securing funding,
finishing my book, and finding a life partner
So, I take one step at a time.
Everyone's Journey Is Different
Last year, I wrote a very passionate post about
the 3 types of successful entrepreneurs
I've met in Asia.
It upset and made a lot of people uncomfortable....
I pointed out some privileges, which most people will never admit.
And nearly a year later, after leaving Bangkok,
I've learned to let it go and
and just accepted that some people
are very singular in their narrative
of what enabled them to be successful as an entrepreneur.
I've met many different types of people,
and you know what?
Everyone has a different journey.
Comparing my journey to others,
makes no sense.
Because I have chosen a path that is very unique.
Despite not having a spouse to support me,
or coming from a family with a
and not having any corporate experience,
or lucrative network,
I still have made incredible milestones
in my life and business.
"The how" doesn't matter,
because I still manage to get to Singapore.
Making it in Singapore
(another topic, but I'm optimistic!)
is done one step at a time.
People Helping Me
At a Women In Business lunch and learn event
I had a seat at "the table" with other
successful people from the corporate world
and privilege social and marital backgrounds.
One person was impressed with my "courage"
and validation by the speaker,
who briefly introduced me and my business to everyone.
I was approached by one of the attendees,
that asked questions about
my business and move to Singapore:
my story, scalability, funding, valuation,
why I moved to Singapore?
After a 10 minute polite conversation,
and seeing my products
(I carry my shampoo bars on me!)
offered to make an introduction into his network.
My Roommate: Serial Entrepreneur
And talking with my new friend/roommate,
who is a foreign, female,
and single a serial entrepreneur,
(yes those details matter!)
she knows exactly what I've gone through
and reached out to me last week to stay on her couch
as I got on my feet.
Like me, she's from a small town, or in her case,
a small village (120 people to be exact), in Germany,
she has built businesses and lived in SE Asia
(Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia).
So after a long day of hustle,
she's a great listener and so far has provided excellent
advice and feedback for securing funding.
It's so refreshing to have a supportive entrepreneur friend!
My Journey Will NOT Be Easy,
The last two days, I had to walk everywhere,
because I didn't sell hair products,
so the "sale money" that goes to my bus card and topping up
my internet, was zero (a motivational factor to
build up my saleswomanship! If I don't sell products,
I have to walk and have no internet)
So I spent 4-5 hours a day walking,
in the heat and pouring rain :)
I'm an optimist,
and see the last few days as an experience
and much needed practice build
up my sales skills.
If I am to successfully scale my business,
I better know how to sell my products in person!
So no need to feel any pity for me :)
Singapore is a walkable country,
and why I chose to relocate here.
Second, I can walk everywhere
morning, noon, night, and late night
with no one bothering me, with the exception
of people saying "Nice Hair" "I Love Your Hair"
which leads to my next point,
when people see me and my hair, it's branding
for my business.
Also, walking so much has kept me slim and healthy
(my secret to how I maintain my figure!).
Lastly, I use the time to think because
I have so much to do!
And with every step I take,
whether it's by foot, networking, or email,
success is a path that has to be taken one step at a time!
As always, thank you for reading!
done"This is Singapore, if you don't work, you don't eat!"
Blunt words and wise words, spoken by the hostel receptionist I met this week.
After my 3 month sabbatical in New Zealand,
if I didn't have the energy to
work and write every day 16 hours a day,
I would push off work to be done the next day.
Not only that, I always had a full fridge of food,
I had a comfy couch and roof over my head,
as I was staying with a family friend,
and weekends I spent time with my religious community.
All in all, I got comfortable, while I was in New Zealand.
I got worried, because as an entrepreneur I got used to being
Now I'm in Singapore,
and comfortable...I am no more!
Hustle: A Test to Selling my Products!
Singapore is expensive,
even staying in a hostel can get expensive,
I know very few people in Singapore (I have one good friend!) so
I'm on my own.
I have no business partner,
no romantic partner,
no lucrative network of friends to invest in my venture,
and no family to help me with startup or living costs.
It's just me
(and G-d, as there is no way I got this far without divine help!)
So, to not get into too many details of my finances,
this week was a test, because I had
to sell products, to cover some of my costs.
If I didn't sell my shampoo bars,
I wouldn't eat.
(with the exception of the free breakfast provided by the hostel)
And, it was a test to my ability to stand on my own
two feet as I need to prove that this business is sustainable.
So I hustled,
and sold my shampoo bars to backpackers,
and at the end of the day,
I was able to eat.
Singapore is excellent for global distribution,
I want to scale my business, and the best place
to build for distributing products all over Asia
Personal delivery is obviously not scalable, and still
can be done in my local market (Bangkok, via motorbikes and Skytrain).
But, for the rest of the region, all my products
are sold online,
and delivered via mail.
Singapore has excellent distribution and fulfillment centers.
And Bangkok is where the products will be manufactured.
Being on the ground over the last few days (I arrived at 3AM on Friday morning!)
walking in the hot sun
to find shops that sell soap boxes, going directly to hair salons
to possibly sell products, then focusing on selling to backpackers,
after many, many rejections, excuses, restrictions,
I was finally able to get:
"yes I'll buy"
I knew this move, to many irrationally and unrealistic,
I can absolutely do it!
And though it's only midweek,
I look at the last few days staying in a hostel has
been an opportunity for me to tap into a new
customer base I haven't sold to in the past: backpackers.
Aside from business, I want to live in Singapore
because it's safe, has many opportunities, it's not really polluted,
I want to settle down (get married and build a family)
have an enriching Jewish life while living in Asia,
and I really like the public transportation (easy to get around).
Yes it's expensive, life is difficult for those with little means,
but, I'm an optimist!
I've gotten this far in my journey!
So, I'll keep hustling, selling products, and
won't give up, no matter how long it takes :)
As always, thank you for reading!
And if you have a business or living in Singapore and
have some wise advice to share or interested in
learning more about my products, feel free to reach out!
I had a plan.
Despite my unpredictable and chaotic life, I always have a plan.
Sometimes things go exactly as I planned.
And other times, Plan A, B, C, and D don't work,
so I've learned to go with the flow
and see where life takes me.
See, coming to New Zealand,
an unexpected trip I admit,
the plan was to: spend 3 months (or 88 days) writing my book,
get the formal paperwork and details
to finally settle down and build
roots in where I hope to live, Singapore,
learn a new skill,
go to services at the local synagogue,
and explore a little bit of New Zealand.
Simple plan right?
Well, as much as I like to write,
from my experience of being an entrepreneur
over the last 5 years, some of the best things
that happened to me and my business
were never part of my initial plans.
If you've been reading my blog you know that
I never really planned to go to Bangkok to start
my business, in fact I wanted to do business in China,
but that didn't work out, I was living in a hostel in Bangkok,
really fell in love with the city, and ended up there for 2.5 years.
I had no plans to "fall in love" with New Zealand,
yes it's a beautiful country, great people, but the longer I stayed
it was hard for my imagination to see myself living in New Zealand :/
So, did everything go according to plan?
First, I didn't finish my book, which I
accept will be a working progress over this year.
And there is no excuse,
I had all the time in the world (probably too much time),
I kept on starting all over, when I should have kept writing
and rewrite when everything was written down.
But I'm confident that I will get it done.
In my experience, my best writing
doesn't come from deadlines, or writing schedules.
So, it will get done (perhaps when I turn 30 next year).
Why I'm writing this book?
I believe my journey as an entrepreneur
is an example that one can really build
their dreams, despite the odds and circumstances.
Plus, I have some unbelievable stories that I want
to share and hope to inspire other would be entrepreneurs.
Somethings I completed
I did manage to get some things done,
like learning a new skill,
specifically supply chain management and logistics,
something that will be very helpful for me in the long-term
to grow my business.
I went on a road trip to Auckland (not exactly according to my plan,
but someone invited me from the local synagogue to drive with her
so it was an opportunity that I took!)
I made friends,
I was able to do a bit of business,
I attended some startup events,
I sharpened my cooking skills,
and many other little things in between :)
Twist in my adventure
Remember how I said everything doesn't always go
according to plan?
Well interestingly, I met someone.
Yes, even when
it comes to my dating life, I like to plan.
But in this case (something I will add to my book), meeting
this person was something I wouldn't be able to plan.
It's actually funny how it happened,
because it's like a Hollywood romantic comedy:
girl travels, she meets handsome boy at party,
she's leaving, they go on a few dates,
and they fall in love (this case has potential)
and they live happily ever after.
My story of this special someone:
It's passover, and I went to both an Orthodox and Reform seder dinner,
my plan was to celebrate with both communities
that I've become part of during my time,
and say goodbye to everyone
as I plan to return to Asia.
The Orthodox seder was great, a bit long (in a good way)
a lot of food, and singing.
Then, the next night, Saturday April 20th, I rush to the
Reform seder, I walk into a room full of people,
and quickly find
a seat as the dinner was getting started,
and for most of the dinner,
I sit by myself and awkwardly
talk to some people nearby my table.
After the meal,as we sing to conclude the seder,
and people with young children begin to leave,
one of the organizers
bring a terribly handsome guest
to sit next to me, and we look at each other,
awkwardly smiling and singing.
Turns out, he's walking back home in the
same direction as I am (Cuba Street)
and we decide to walk back together, as we walk
down this street, a street performer is play
the theme song to the Godfather, we look at
each other and laugh and say what an incredibly movie
the Godfather is, and on the
on the way home we stop at a bar that he works at
to and have a drink of wine and talk about life and
our adventures in different parts of the world (nice to meet
someone that is as adventurous as me!).
We meet each other again and over the next 3 days
right up to when I leave. I even have
second thoughts about leaving New Zealand (not part of the plan)
but I do leave and we continue to keep in touch.
Given that my life is not a romantic Hollywood film,
in my experience, the timing and how I meet
a special someone tells me this individual
has a lot of potential :)
In the meantime
I'm heading back to Singapore,
to set out what I planned to do, settle down and
rebuild my business.
But you know what?
I have a feeling, that my plan won't go
exactly as I planned.
So stay tuned!
As always, thank you for reading :)
So, it's April.
I've been in New Zealand for over 8 weeks,
and I have few more weeks left to writing my book.
I came to New Zealand so I could be far away, and focus on my book.
During my time here, I've had the opportunity to go on a road trip
from Wellington to Auckland, went sailing for my birthday, went roller blading
along the harbor for Valentines Day, and have made new
friends since my time in Wellington.
The only major thing I didn't do since my time in New Zealand
was travel to the South Island.
My goal is to write my book, and keep my travels
to the minimum.
Now that I have this month to get everything done
I'm doubling down on my writing.
I'll be moving again, and given that I'm far away from everything
and everyone, I wanted to share my journey writing my book.
My New YouTube Series
So I created a YouTube series: Writing My Book From My Couch.
I produce 2-3 minute videos about writing my book, stories from my book,
so I can connect with people out there who too may be writing a book.
I'm sure people may be curious what do I do all day?
Or how do I organize my day as a writer?
How do I maintain discipline and balance?
For sure, I don't stay indoors all day, and write for 16 hours!
So, I created this series to share my journey!
Just as I created this blog to share my journey as an entrepreneur
I know people don't like to read...and prefer videos
so I'm adjusting and creating content for you all to
keep up with what I'm doing!
So check out my YouTube Channel: Blair Cadet
I've been in New Zealand for 2 months.
Spending the majority of my stay in,
Wellington, the capital.
Before I came to New Zealand, I researched online the safety precautions
solo female travels should take, read a few blogs and reviews
about food, travel, and things to do in New Zealand.
One story that came up in my research was about the British backpacker
that was murdered on her Tinder date.
I also read, that New Zealand has the highest rate of domestic violence
in the world (people I've met said, it's just the highest reported rate).
So, planning my stay in this far off land, I was hesitant.
But, I was happy to be
staying with a family friend and connect with the local Jewish community.
The first couple of weeks was absolute bliss!
Locals told me that this was the best summer in a long time,
people smiled at me as I walked around, people asked how I'm enjoying
my time in New Zealand, and was happy that I came here before
going to Australia (apparently there is a rivalry between the two
countries), and the local Jewish community is so friendly and welcoming!
My first few weeks, I walked around, organized my day around writing
and ate lunch at the harbor.
A Few Incidents Where I Felt Unsafe
No country is perfect.
Let alone free of inequality, homelessness, or violence.
Walking around during the day, I always kept alert,
and aware of my surroundings.
Yet, there were three incidents where I did feel unsafe.
The first two times, in high afternoon, walking downtown
I could feel an older man
How do I know these men were following me,
after all, it was a crowded street, that went straight for a long time,
perhaps they were just going in the same direction as me.
I could feel how closely they were behind me,
and when I stopped, I turned around, in both incidents
the men also stopped, I continued walking, and they kept following me.
Intuition, is real, and I just kept on walking, just a bit faster,
and when I turned around again, the men weren't there.
I guess they gave up :/
There is a problem with homelessness
The next time I felt unsafe, was also in a very
public area, a park, in high afternoon.
This time, by a man who appeared to be a drug addict/homeless,
just walked right behind me
as I was making my way across the park,
and tried to grab me.
I yelled at him not to touch me,
which scared him away.
I looked around, to see if anyone just saw what happened,
and people just kept walking by, like nothing happened.
So I kept on walking, trying to enjoy the rest of my day.
A bit spooked, but I wasn't going to have my day ruined.
After those incidences, which I told my friend about (and wasn't surprised,
she explained, perhaps since I'm a Black woman, I'm an easy
target for these men)
I realized no matter what time of the day, as a solo
female traveler, who is visibly different, I have to be
on guard at all times.
Terrorist Attack in Christchurch
When I learned about the HORRIFIC terrorist attack
in Christchurch, I was walking out the door
on my way for shabbat services at the local synagogue.
I got 3 messages from members who told me services were cancelled
because there was an attack at 2 mosques
First, I was shocked, because I was
on Facebook earlier in the afternoon, I didn't see any news of
an attack (I don't follow any New Zealand news, and the
story didn't get international attention until later that evening).
Next, I asked how is it that assault weapons in the
country were allowed...I thought that was only in America...
Apparently, there is a big illegal gun market in New Zealand
and in the south island, in Christchurch, there are many
skin heads and neo-Nazis.
So, people in my community spent shabbat at home.
I was shocked to learn about the incident as more
details were being reported.
On Fridays and Saturdays, during shabbat, my phone is
is usually off.
Given this tragedy
I turned it on and saw a missed call and messages
from my family and friends asking if I was okay.
Not many people know that Christchurch is in the south island
of New Zealand, I'm in Wellington, which is
located on the northern island.
So, I went on social media and emailed people close to me
and shared that I'm okay and safe.
I read the news to learn more about the attack.
A Country Coming Together
It's through the most difficult times you can
determine how strong you are.
And personally seeing Kiwi's come together
to fight Islamaphobia, racism, bigotry
and changing laws so this horrific tragedy never happens again
I believe New Zealand is a prime example of how
to combat hatred.
I waited to write about this incident so I could
get a complete picture of this tragedy.
I've talked with people in my community, friends, and
read online how such a horrific event could happen
and what's being done next so it won't happen again.
New Zealand, is like any other country in the world,
though it's small, diverse, and far away from everything,
it's a great place to travel to, just keep your guards up
and don't be afraid to call people out if they
exude hatred or bigotry.
Thank you for reading!
Why I started this blog?
One year ago, I started this blog, blaircadet.com
Though I'v been blogging for 5 years, I wrote on my business websites
nhc.com (Natural Hair Capital, my first failed venture),
then on healthyhairasia.com (my shop website, that had my blog).
And when I showed people my website at the time,
it was confusing.
There was my business, and then all this other extra stuff about me, tech events, etc.
It didn't make any sense!
Plus, once I got my pre-seed investment, I wanted
to take a new direction to scale,
I no longer wanted to be the "face" of my business.
My signature hairstyle and journey to healthy and beautiful hair is part of my personal brand
But for the business, clarity between my personal brand
and business brand was needed.
Creating a brand: Yummy Blair
So, I created a LINE inspired sticker character, Yummy Blair.
Yummy Blair, has some of my characteristics, obvious one, my hair.
Other characteristics include her being an entrepreneur, traveler, and tech-savvy.
Now, if you're unfamiliar with LINE stickers,
or the importance of the business of cuteness
in Asia, one prime example is Hello Kitty.
Hello Kitty or the Sanrio brand, is worth $4 billion dollars.
That's the power of a cute brand.
Applying to L'Oreal Open Innovation Accelerator
Aside from clarity between my personal brand and business,
I was prompted to start my personal blog
because I was applying for L'Oreal Open Innovation at Station F.
The first beauty accelerator program in the world,
I was super excited when I learned about this program,
as most accelerators
focus on AI, FinTech, big data, etc.
When this program was first announced, the website just asked applicants
to email them and write a short "about me" and a summary of their business.
Which I found that strange :/ (they have a new website!)
They didn't ask for pitch deck, portfolio, or website....
But, that didn't deter me.
Given the confusion when people saw my
initial website, I created this blog, transferred old blog posts,
pictures, and milestones of my business, to my personal website,
and viola, Blair Cadet the Entrepreneur was born!
I included a short description of myself, my new website, and my pitch deck,
which they interestingly didn't read (reading saves a lot of time...)
My design team also finished creating Yummy Blair stickers and the pitch deck,
so I created yummyblair.com
Corporates Entering the Startup World
The people at L’Oréal team were surprised
and unprepared for my application.
The program called for beauty entrepreneurs around the world,
to apply and move to Paris where they had an office in Station F.
What I later learned was they meant was for beauty entrepreneurs in Europe.
I think some people forget that there is a world and market
outside the US and Europe....
I wrote a detailed post about this experience last year,
Corporates Meet Startups, because the team running the program
were unfamiliar with how entrepreneurs communicate and was
"worried" that L’Oréal didn't have the resources, mentors, or understanding
of the market to help me build my startup in SE Asia.
I never worked in the corporate world
Interestingly, the beauty market in SE Asia is the market to be in right now,
and the Asia market is the largest international market for L'Oreal
maybe I was missing something :/
So, they suggested for me to wait later in the year when they had more experience
building the accelerator, and for now they will focus on European beauty startups.
Fair and practical suggestion.
And with that, I rescinded my application.
I'm an entrepreneur, we're irrational people
(given that 90% of startups fail)
I could see why many big industries are easy to disrupt,
because they don't "connect the dots" and aren't flexible to change and/or adapt to new trends.
In this case, Asia is the best place to be to build a beauty brand,
the numbers, research, and profits show it.
Perfect, but not for me
I was hesitant to apply to other accelerator programs after this experience,
and after other rejected applications, I took a break to focus on my business.
Did I really need accelerator program to scale and build my business?
Yes and no.
Yes, because being a foreign founder accelerator programs (good ones) in Asia provide
a visa and startup capital to get a founder started
No , because I already have a product, team, and brand.
Why give away about 10-20% in equity,
that would cost me more in the long-term
for a $100K or less investment?
But again, I'm an optimist and like to see my options
So, 1 year later, I applied to new accelerator program.
And in all honestly, when they contacted
me 2 weeks ago, I completely forgot that I applied.
I was optimistic.
A new opportunity!
When I read their website, read about the founder, and the application process
An accelerator program giving my startup a chance!
I won't names the program, but the accelerator is in Singapore,
and was created last summer.
It has everything I'm looking for in an accelerator.
They were looking for "real entrepreneurs that will go to the ends of the earth" to build their idea.
And the start of this program was perfect timing for me
as I plan to head back to SE Asia later this year.
It couldn't be more perfect!
But sometimes what's perfect, is not for me.
I made it to the 2 round of interviews,
Then I had to take an aptitude test.
I'm not a good test taker, and especially when it's timed.
So, I didn't make it to the 3 rd of interviews :(
My thoughts on aptitude test, as a previous teacher,
Tests don't measure the creativity or capability of a student/person
If you want a good "worker" or "employee" with a specialize skill
absolutely, but for entrepreneurs building a business
not a good measurement of skill.
I believe entrepreneurs should prove their prowess via
personal and business brand, product, team, and track record.
Their rules. So I didn't measure up :/
I do wonder, when accelerators look for entrepreneurs, in this case
real entrepreneurs, do they just want former corporate people,
ex-McKinsey's, Harvard and Stanford MBA's, academics, and nerds?
If so, if you look at some of the best entrepreneurs in the world,
Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Richard Branson,
all real entrepreneurs, brilliant in their own right,
and a test (with exception of Elon Musk),
couldn't measure their entrepreneurial prowess.
What I learned
Well, this potential opportunity did prompt me
to create my Facebook group, Healthy Hair Asia
so I could connect more with my customers,
and create a community around my brand and product.
Which is what really matters,
so another lesson learned!
As always, thank you for reading!
And remember, life is full of lessons,
don't let setbacks or failures keep you from building your dreams!
Event: Digital Marketing Workshop for female founders in Wellington, NZ
Organizer: She Owns It
Date: Thursday, March 7, 2019
Rachel Lewis, Founder of She Owns It
Mia Garlick, Director of Policy/APAC Regional Coordinator at Facebook
Nicola Willis, Member of Parliament
Monique Doy, Founder of Dressing Room
Sara Quilter, Founder of Tailor Skinkcare
Hirira Rollestone, Founder of Mindset for Paddlers
Amanda Snedden, Founder of Little Ones
How I learned about the workshop
I've been in Wellington, New Zealand for about 6 weeks.
And this was the first event related to entrepreneurship that I've attended since I've arrived in New Zealand.
I'm not a tourist, I'm an explorer.
In a new country, I have a list of events, people to meet and interview, and I write about what I discover.
Traveling to New Zealand, my focused was writing my adventures over the last 4 years.
I had no plan to travel around the country, go to events, and just write.
And I noticed a pattern with my life around this time of the year,
I'm always in a new place.
2018 I was in South Korea for 1 month.
And my time there was a real adventure!
I attended the Startup Weekend Seoul Women, Startup Grind Seoul,
and plethora of other events and places, like Pangyo, Campus Seoul Goolge,
and interviewed local and foreign founders to learn their stories.
This adventures, for the first 2 weeks I could feel myself growing unhappy.
I felt my creative energy and 'hunger' was slowly depleting.
And I finally figured out why.
I'm human, a very sociable human.
And I simply cannot live an insulated life with one focus.
As beautiful and luxurious as it is to focus on writing, in an incredibly beautiful place,
if I'm not happy, and my creativity doesn't flow, I can't work productively.
I know what it's like to be unhappy in a work setting,
hence why I quit my teaching job, and went full-time with my startup in 2017.
I was so happy, and even when things started to fall apart,
and had to move home and live with my family,
I was still happy, "hungry", and determined to make my way back to Asia.
So, I made a change.
I signed up for 2 online business classes
to expand my knowledge and skills to manage my business.
I also bought more books, as I've learned writers have to be vigorous readers.
One book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki,
I was reminded by the importance of socializing
and being around like-minded and/or ambitious people.
So I went on eventbrite, looked for events to attend so I could surround myself around
entrepreneurs, and found the workshop!
What I learned
It was good to hear the stories of panelists, as many started their business solving a problem,
and the challenges and success they had over the years building their business on social media.
There stories reminded me of when I first started, Healthy Hair Asia.
I started styling hair and selling hair products with friends and my customers while teaching
English full-time when I first arrived in Bangkok, Thailand.
I posted an ad on craigslist and InterNations, and one of my customers recommended that I
create a Facebook page so it would be easier people can find my services and sell hair products.
It took awhile for me to learn the basics of building a Facebook shop.
And over time, I started investing more money into my business,
and even created 'how-to" videos to teach my customers how to properly use the hair products.
There stories were inspiring, and when the workshop started, we took out our phones,
and spent the next 2 hours learning the how to's use Facebook tools, Instagram Stories.
I learned about the difference between branding, marketing, and advertising, and the importance
of building a community for your customers.
So refreshed and empowered after attending the workshop.
It was nice to be back in a business focused and female business friendly environment
(men and women do business so differently!)
So, now that I know the basics of Instagram Stories Facebook ads,
and the importance of building a community for my business,
I'm going to apply and execute what I learned.
Balance is also important.
I've already manage my time with writing my book,
taking online courses and now I'll go out
more to socialize with other entrepreneurs.
And if you're wondering do I plan to travel more around New Zealand,
I do have a road trip coming up!
Thank you for reading and Happy International Women's Day!
So last year I decided that it was time to turn my blog into a book.
I've spent the last 5 years documenting my journey as an entrepreneur, need a new challenge, and I have a great story to tell!
When I left Bangkok, May 2018, unceremoniously, and returned back home to Massachusetts, I thought, I would be able to quickly write my book.
I've shared that I'm a writer at heart, though I love everything hair, and selling hair products, my first love is writing.
And it wasn't until I was an Au Pair in China, in 2017, and I had to abruptly leave my host family, and when I wrote my story, I found my voice as a writer.
Writing a book, is something new to me, and as I write, I'm still learning.
So it would take longer than a few months to write.
Also, it didn't help that I was angry for quite some time. I know it's important to stay positive, but I'm human, I was really hurt after my time in Bangkok :(
So I wrote some 'emotionally charged' blog posts, some passionate posts about the injustice I felt being a foreign female entrepreneur, and the privileges many male entrepreneurs have (they'll never publicly admit it), or the advantages coming from a wealthy family or working in the corporate world (people feel personally attacked :/), but, I've never written from a place of anger.
It took a few months for me to make peace with what happened in Bangkok.
And looking back, that experience has taught me to never again forget what enabled me to succeed and not to compare my journey to others.
The next challenge after making my peace was learning how to live at home as an adult.
Which I'm not ashamed of, but after living independently abroad for a few years, it does change a person.
And people don't like change.
Especially those that live in a bubble, or in a small town, or people that take a more comfortable route to success or being happy (no judgements!).
So, what I would do, to get peace of mind was, imagine myself in a far and beautiful land, and just write.
And while I wasn't writing, I worked odd jobs, reconnected with friends, hosted a high tea party, travelled to Canada, and slowly planned my 'come back to Asia.'
I also tried podcasting, apparently the new thing since blogging has become so saturated, and created my own podcast, Entrepreneurs In A Foreign Land.
I was a great run, I had some great interviews, but I needed to focus my creative energy and tell my story first, instead of spending time and energy publishing other people's stories.
And, to add more to my "to do lists" I was completing my spiritual journey, something I wanted to do for a long time.
So I had a lot going on.
Nevertheless, I always kept in mind that my imagination, optimism, and hopeful attitude would get me where I needed to be, I just had to be patient.
Once I completed my spiritual journey, and left the U.S. to "scout out" the new country I'm planning to move to in SE Asia, my energy is focused on completing my book.
In New Zealand.
So, I'm not here as a tourist, I'm not even here to "explore" and write about the local startup ecosystem (those days are gone), I'm here to write my story.
And may take a few day trips, to see Lord of the Rings scenes or go sailing again ( I did it for my 29th birthday!).
And I'm fortunate to have a friend to stay with, because New Zealand is very expensive!
A beautiful place, far, far, far, away from everything (18 hours ahead of Boston!), and where my creativity and imagination can thrive.
Never underestimate the power of your imagination, it will take you far!
As always, thank you for reading :)
I'm a minimalist.
Well, as an entrepreneur that has limited resources, I don't really have a choice of being a minimalist, but I've lived this lifestyle for the past 5 years.
You see, as a minimalist, I don't have many things, or "stuff" so when it comes to special occasions, like my birthday, January 30th, I've learned to invest in experiences, rather than in "stuff."
So today is my birthday, I'm 29 years old, I've been an entrepreneur for the last 5 years, full-time for about 2 years, and I wanted to invest in a new experience.
At the moment, I'm in Wellington, New Zealand, which I will blog about more in my next post, but anyways, I'm in Wellington staying with a friend.
From December to February is the summer season, and once I arrived this week, apparently I came when there was perfect weather. Sunny, nice cool breeze, clear skies, and the perfect time to go sailing.
I've been sailing many years ago as a child when I went to summer camp, but as an adult that travelled via planes, trains, ferry boats, buses, caravans, and cars, I thought sailing would be a fun experience.
And what better place to go sailing, than Wellington, New Zealand!
I want to share my amazing experience sailing on the Megisti Sailing Charters.
I'll be honest, I don't know much about boats, but I know how to ask questions!
So the captain, Tim Newman, was happy to answer all my questions about the boat.
Tim, bought the boat in one of the Caribbean islands, and sailed it back to New Zealand. Took 3 months, about 10,000 nautical miles with a with a team of 3 men.
He owns Megisti Sailing Charters, and has been sailing the 42-foot cruising catamaran boat for the last 12 years.
He's spent 4 years in Wellington, New Zealand, leading group, private, and corporate tours with his furry and spotty friend.
The sailing trip I went on, was the 70-minute group tour around the Wellington Harbor.
At 2PM, with a group of 12 people (holds up to 20 people!) we left the dock and began the tour of the Wellington Harbor.
It was a very worth while birthday experience because it was perfect day to sail.
We had good weather, excellent winds, and clear blue skies.
Sometimes on these sailing trips, people see dolphins, orca whales, and other wild life creatures!
Today, wasn't that day but I was happy to take many pictures, meet really interesting people who were on holiday in New Zealand.
One fellow adventurer I met was Matan, an American, solo female traveller traveling around the world before her next big move.
We agreed, to be each other's photographers for this mini sailing trip, shared stories of our travels, traded tips for our next destinations, and had a nice picnic on the harbor after our trip.
Is 70 minutes enough to sail?
Well, for a person that wants a quick tour, right on the harbor, and meet people from around the world, I say definitely is!
And, for those that don't know, New Zealand is quite an expensive country, so if you don't want to break the bank while on long holiday, I say 50 NZD, is definitely affordable.
Oh, and can you put a price on the scene and the beautiful pictures you'll take?
New Zealand is my 24th country I've been to.
I've seen beautiful beaches (lived in Israel 20 minutes from the beach), I've done a 2 week road trip across Europe, I've travelled extensively in SE Asia, so I'm not easily impressed!
New Zealand, I say is a hidden treasure!
A treasure that is far away from everything!
Just flying in this week, looking out the window of the airplane, I've never seen such beauty in my life!
I'm here for awhile, so I'm in no rush to see everything, nor want to overwhelm myself with the beauty of this place and its many islands.
I think the best gift I've given myself for my birthday is this experience sailing in the Wellington Harbor with Megisti Sailing Charters.
Given that I'm an Aquarius, the wind bearer, I don't stay in one place too long,
and move where the "wind of opportunity" blows, and that's in Asia.
But first stop, heading from Boston to "the East" is San Francisco (it's actually cheaper to do a layover in San Francisco).
2018 I'm happy that I completed a lot of things:
I spent time living at home with my family;
caught up with childhood and long-time friends;
I travelled/explored: Germany, Finland, South Korea, and Canada;
I completed my spiritual journey, and now am a Jewish woman;
I learned a new language, Hebrew;
started my podcast, Entrepreneur In A Foreign Land;
and achieved moderate success with my startup, creating Yummy Blair character and new designs for my product line Yummy Blair Cosmetics;
I'm happy that I was able to accomplish so much while living in my small hometown over the course of 7 months.
And, happy that I got to live with my older sister in Boston for 7 weeks, in which I was able to explore the Boston startup community.
Exploring the Boston startup ecosystem was fun. I met a lot of entrepreneurs, interesting people, and got back into salsa dancing!
However, Boston is expensive, conservative, and quite a segregated and highly unequal city that I couldn't imagine myself living in for the long-term.
So, after months of planning my "come back" to Asia, I set some time aside to spend a few days in San Francisco before heading to Asia.
And here I am, in San Francisco!
Where most of the money is, i.e: Corporate Venture Capital, Venture Capital, Angel Investors, tech companies, startups, "unicorns," and concentration of innovation is located.
3 years ago, I was in San Francisco, but at a very different stage in my life as a founder.
I had the opportunity to explore "Silicon Valley" and went to the Google Campus, Facebook Campus, LinkedIn, meet people that work at these awesome spaces, and attended many startup events.
Today, my time in San Francisco, will not be spent on exploring tech spaces,
rather building relationships with entrepreneurs, and cultivating the relationships that I have with friends and fellow startup founds.
As always, thank you for reading!
And stay tuned for my next stop :)
What a year it's been for me as an entrepreneur, friend, daughter, sister and woman!
The biggest lesson I've learned this year was to watch what people do, not what they say.
And yes, I've been naive, made a lot of mistakes, taken big risks, ran out of money and had to move back in with my family, start all over again (but with a plethora of knowledge) but you know what?
I have zero regrets.
Because a true entrepreneur is more worried about regrets than failures, mistakes, and what other people think.
Thus, it's been a tumultuous year of learning and remaining positively resilient!
So instead of a beautifully descriptive long blog post, I will summarize the year 2018 into pictures.
Thank you everyone who has helped me this year, by hosting me in their homes, letting me crash their couch, took me out to eat, help me find flexible work so I can continue to work on my startup, and most importantly believing in me!
I can't wait for 2019!
Event: Angel & VC Pitching at WeWork
Date: Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Venue: WeWork Cambridge
Host: Boston Startupalooza
Sponsors: McCarter & English
Organizer: Alan Brody
Igor Belagorudsky, Private Investor
Justin Homes, Animal Ventures
Amar Hirani, Ben Jen Holdings
Ben Jen, Private Investor
Jeremy Mays, Transmyt Marketing
Laurie Stach, LaunchX
How I learned about Startupalooza Pitch Night?
For the last 2 weeks, I've been working at WeWork Cambridge office, and like any co-working space, wework sponsors events for members and for the local startup ecosystem.
If you're new to my blog, then I will share that I have a method of finding events, connecting with key players, and attending events at a discounted rate (since I'm a blogger), or for free (I won tickets see Blockchain World Conference), or just attending at a regular price.
Also, every week I go on meetup.com, evenbrite, and Facebook to see what types of events, from tech/startups, fitness, and community, that I should attend.
I learned about Startupalooza on meetup.com and on the weekly "what's happening" emails from wework. On meetup.com this event cost 35USD for non-nomembers, but it was free for wework members!
However, I wanted to connect with the organizer so I asked the wework event coordinator to connect me and make an introduction.
This is key, to building relationships, as people are more open and reluctant to talk with you via an introduction, and with an introduction doors open.
Though the original plan was to only blog about the pitch night, and the organizer was more interested in me pitching my startup.
So I agreed to pitch and blog.
Event: The Fourth Annual Women In Investing Summit
Date: Thursday, November 29,2018
Venue: Harvard Business School (HBS)
Host: a Student Club at Harvard Business School
Kristin Mugford, Faculty Advisor,
Hortenese Badarani, Conference Chair & Co-Chair
Caitlin Riederer, Conference Co-Chair & Co-President
Kate Mitchell, Co-founder & Partner, Scale Venture Partners
Tom Lister, Co-Managing Partner, Permira
Panel Session Discussions:
Private Equity Panel
Venture Capital & Growth Equity Panel
Public Investing Panel
Improving Gender Diversity in Investing Panel
Event Metrics: about 100 attendees
Harvard MBA students, Harvard MBA alumni,
professionals, and business owners
How I Learned about Women In Investing Summit at Harvard Business School?
I'm new to Boston, despite growing up and attending university in Massachusetts, Boston was a city that I only went to for theatre, ballet, site seeing, and meeting friends from the Boston suburbs.
Now, as an entrepreneur, like any city I've travelled to over the last 4 years, I have a game plan when it comes to exploring, meeting new people, and finding opportunities.
The last two American cities I explored as an entrepreneur were NYC ('2017), and San Francisco (2016), both with unique startup ecosystems.
My strategy for finding events, is looking on eventbrite, meetup.com, and Facebook.
And when I attend events, I connect with organizers who know about other fun events that aren't always publicly advertised or well-known outside certain circles.
This strategy has worked very well for me, when I was in South Korea in March/April this year, to explore the startup and K-beauty scene (see Startup Weekend Seoul Women)
So, coming to Boston, went on eventbrite and found the 4th Annual Women In Investing Summit. And was so happy to see that is was free (some of these events can get pricey), and was a summit, thus enough time to network and talk with attendees.
Why I Attended the Summit :)
I'm on a mission to secure my first series A seed fund ($100K to be exact), and I want to learn more about the mindset of people in the finance world (the background of many Angel and VC's).
And from my experience in Bangkok and securing pre-seed funding, I've learned there is a very different mindset of "finance people" even when they become entrepreneurs.
Even further there there is a disconnect how investors think, communicate, dress, and expect entrepreneurs to build and scale a startup,
in comparison to how entrepreneurs think, communicate, dress, and expect to build and scale their startup.