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.
So I'm planning my return to Asia early next year.
And this time around, I plan to find a job in the startup space while I slowly rebuild Yummy Blair & Healthy Hair Asia part-time.
When I left my "perfect job" at an international kindergarten last October, I knew that I couldn't both teach at an international school and build a startup.
Because international schools takes up all of a teachers time and creative energy.
Aside from investing my energy and time making products and talking to my customers, I focus a lot of energy on building my personal brand through blogging, podcasting, and making videos.
And since I've created the "Yummy Blair" character I have to manage my own brand and build her character up (my vision to the likes of Hello Kitty).
So, how can I translate all this creative work and branding into my resume?
I don't exactly know.
And I don't see why resumes today still remain relevant.
I think resumes are so outdated given how we live in a digital age where people now have to have some kind of online presence, i.e. LinkedIn, that display their work and credentials.
And if you're a creative, it would make more sense to direct people to look at your online portfolio: blog, YouTube channel, podcast, social media accounts, than on a 2-page word doc.
Sharing educational credentials are important, but that can be done on LinkedIn! Plus you can now have recommendations and see the connections and contacts of people.
Which is a lot better than writing "references given upon request" at the bottom of a resume.
Why do we need resumes anymore?
As a creative entrepreneur, I believe my work speaks for itself.
If people want to know me, I write a personal cover letter and direct them to my blog, podcast, and videos.
I'm curious to know what are your thoughts?
Do we still need resumes today?
I haven't been on Facebook or Instagram for about 2 weeks.
I need to focus.
See, living in Bangkok, Facebook and Instagram was like the "center of the world" as most communication is via Facebook messenger (or LINE), people promoted and found events via Facebook,
and to build a personal brand, entrepreneurs, investors, and small business owners spent a lot of time sharing stories, pictures, and thoughts, on Facebook and Instagram.
Well, I'm temporarily out of Bangkok, and far away from any startup environment. This is a good and bad thing. Bad, because I may be "missing out" on events and making connections,
whether it's with customers and friends; but it's good because I have quite a few things to accomplish before I return back to Asia.
Things like, completing my book. Spending time with my family, and other essential things that must be accomplished.
And being off social media, taking a break from the "virtual world" I have gained a lot more clarity.
Plus, being in Bangkok for about 3 years, people know who I am, where they can find me, and if they really want to find me, they can call or email me (though I still check my Facebook messenger).
Since my brief absence, I still receive messages from my customers (they keep me motivated), and few friends back in BKK.
So, if you are wondering where I've been, I'm here, just not on social media :)