Just the added day, my wife asked me to set up a car clue for our two year old son. I had affected she meant a Tomica clue – aback acceptable a dad, I accept spent so abundant time ambience up these modular, motorised tracks. She told me it was already in his room. Aback I went in, I didn’t see a box of artificial pieces anywhere. Instead, there was a affiche tube with the cutest bolt decal car track.
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When we were installing it, I acclaimed that the assets on the decal were Singaporean landmarks. There was the Merlion, and MBS, the Esplanade, and Changi Airport’s aboriginal iconic air cartage ascendancy tower.
This was acutely a bounded product. So I asked my wife who she got it from. When I begin out that it was from the aforementioned bodies who additionally fabricated the custom laser-cut Chinese New Year ancestors applique with our ancestors name in Chinese, I capital to apperceive added about Urban Li’l, a six-year-old autogenous articles aggregation set up by 35-year-old mumpreneur Rachel Tan.
WERE YOU A CREATIVE OR ENTREPRENEURIAL CHILD?
I admired autogenous design, alike aback little. One of my adolescence hobbies was to apprehend the Ikea archive and brainstorm how, aback I grew up, I would transform my own room. At 13, aback we confused to a new abode and I was accustomed to architecture my own allowance and appearance it as I capital – with items from Ikea, of course. I assumption I accept consistently had an absorption in well-designed spaces and products.
My alone appetite as a kid was to be an entrepreneur, like my dad. In our boyish years, my brother and I would buy items from Bangkok and accompany them aback to Singapore and advertise them via a rental push-cart. We didn’t accomplish abundant money but we were able to apprentice business abilities such as sales, pricing, and business at a adolescent age.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CORPORATE CAREER BEFORE URBAN LI’L.
I was alive in the acreage of banking planning and assay in assorted MNCs for a decade afterwards I accelerating with a Master’s bulk in Accounts from Monash University. I was absolutely en avenue to acceptable a CFO but aback I become a mum in 2015, I realised that I capital a career area I could accept greater ascendancy of my time so that I could accept abundant time for the kids. That’s aback I absolutely begin my affection in architecture and started Urban Li’l, but it took me four years to be assured abundant to booty the attempt to run the business abounding time.
IT MUST HAVE BEEN TOUGH TO JUGGLE A FULL-TIME CAREER AND A START-UP, ALONG WITH MOTHERHOOD.
Juggling a full-time job, business and the ancestors was an astronomic challenge. I acquainted that I wasn’t 100 per cent at annihilation as I was consistently multi-tasking and award it difficult to advance myself harder on any front. I was consistently beddy-bye beggared with four hours of beddy-bye per day and it was acutely adverse to my body. I assuredly had to booty a footfall aback on my accumulated career to affliction for myself and the family.
My angle to leave the aggregation was countered with an action of a part-time adjustment by my bosses. It was the absolute adjustment for me. I formed three canicule on the job and two canicule on my new business. I had new-found energy, absolved with springs in my accomplish and spent affection time with the family. That all afflicted afresh aback the additional babyish came along. That’s aback I assuredly larboard my accumulated job, started an office, assassin a aggregation and grew the business.
WHAT GAVE YOU THE CONFIDENCE TO RUN URBAN LI’L FULL-TIME?
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Urban Li’l was the aboriginal in the bazaar in the custom autogenous adornment area and there was so abundant abeyant to abound into. I had a ambition to acquire at atomic 75 per cent of my accumulated assets afore leaving. I larboard in 2018 aback I met that ambition and I was assured abundant to advance my assets and accommodated my claimed and business goals with affairs in place.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST THING YOU DESIGNED THAT YOU CONSIDER TO BE THE CATALYST FOR URBAN LI’L?
Our ancestors applique and the articles that were aggressive by it were the catalysts that helped actuate the business to a new level. We advised and fabricated our aboriginal ancestors applique about bristles years ago aback Elizabeth Soh-Teo who is a adolescent mumprenuer, requested a custom applique for her home that said “Home with the Teos”.
It went viral aback she acquaint it on her Instagram anniversary and our orders for Ancestors Plaques attempt up. In fact, they still abound ages on ages to this day. We accept aback created abounding plaques and signage for kids, home, businesses and contest that accept brought the business to area it is today.
TELL ME ABOUT THE NATIONAL DAY MILESTONE STICKERS. I UNDERSTAND THOSE WERE THE FIRST OFFICIAL PRODUCTS FROM URBAN LI’L.
Urban Li’l was founded on Aug 1 aback my SG50 adolescent was about six months old. That aggressive me to actualize our aboriginal artefact – a SG50 National Day copy of anniversary stickers for babies to mark this appropriate anniversary in their lives. These anniversary stickers were customised with the baby’s names that says “XXX’s Aboriginal SG50 National Day” in a appearance of a award for girls and a tie for boys. They were meant to be pasted on their onesies mainly for photo-taking purposes.
Our admission barrage was actual well-received and that motivated me to actualize added accommodation and designs to aggrandize our ambit of anniversary stickers that includes charting the weeks and months of a baby’s advance and the above milestones that they accept reach. Examples accommodate “I can sit” or “First solid food”, “First word” and “I can walk”.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE TOUGHEST LESSON TO LEARN ABOUT BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR?
Not to try to do it all! I formed such continued hours during the founding years of Urban Li’l, on top of actuality a mum, that I was appealing abundant burnt-out at times. Realising that I accept bound capacity, I accept learnt to agent and empower my aggregation to accept abandon to actualize and own projects.
Stay focused. There are abounding distractions that could affect my focus on accomplishing my business objectives. You accept to bethink things like acceptance based on cardinal of Instagram followers and the numbers of brand on posts do not ascertain the success of a business. To body a acceptable business that promotes adroitness and association advance is the capital cold of the business and we accept to sometimes admonish ourselves to break focused.
Also administer your banknote flow. Having a able accounts background, I accept the accent of befitting banknote breeze in check. There were times aback banknote breeze was low due to assorted big projects that we were alive on at the aforementioned time. This presented a big accident to the business but auspiciously we accept been able to manage.
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WHAT’S BEEN THE BEST MEMORY SO FAR IN YOUR URBAN LI’L JOURNEY?
For me, I adulation the abstraction that I am arena a role in transforming houses into homes and abandoned spaces into allusive playrooms and anniversary spaces through our unique artefact offerings.
Last Christmas, we additionally had our aboriginal retail abundance – a Christmas abundance at Cluny Court area we showcased and awash our Christmas accumulating and ran Christmas ability workshops for kids and adults. That was a absurd experience.
WHAT ARE YOUR BEST-SELLING ITEMS?
Cake toppers, ancestors plaques, nursery name signage, bolt decals and Christmas wreaths and ornaments. That makes up 70 per cent of our customer sales. Apart from customer sales, we accept accumulated projects in which we assignment with businesses to architecture ability for their clients. This calm with added architecture projects fabricated up for about bisected of our absolute anniversary sales aftermost year.
DO YOU DESIGN EVERYTHING YOURSELF?
All our articles are advised in-house. I acclimated to assignment and architecture aggregate on my own as the business was not big abundant to absolve any hires. Aback sales grew to a cogent amount, I assassin a team.
The business was able to accomplish so abundant added with me beneath complex in operations and added focused on business development, sales and marketing. I’m adored with a actual able and committed aggregation of designers and an accomplished assembly aggregation that helps me accomplish all of my business goals.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE WAYS FOR BRANDS TO GARNER ATTENTION THAT YOU HAVE FOUND TO BE SUCCESSFUL?
Be original. We accept had abounding copies of our assignment amphibian about over the years, locally and internationally. Perhaps some business bodies abridgement the compassionate that by artful an abstraction and a product, that is not ethical in the architecture world.
For every artefact that we create, we would about analysis bristles abstraction account afore finalising on the final design. The action involves creativity, time and accomplishment and I do accept that our audience see the amount in what we do and accordingly accept us aback attractive at adornment and allowance shopping.
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Also be accepted and relevant. You charge to actualize articles that are advantageous for bodies today. During the ambit breaker, contest and parties were non-existent. We afflicted our business focus to home décor like bolt decals and baby affair items like block toppers. We tweaked our communications to emphasise how our articles advice bodies accomplish their homes cozier to alive in now that they’re spending added time at home.
Another way is to action acceptable and reliable services. As abounding of our orders are date-sensitive, we ensure that all orders are actuality delivered in time for clients’ contest and gifting. All barter enquiries and emails are about replied to aural 24 hours. We accord with our audience with affection and abode their needs as our priority.
We additionally amount clients’ feedback. Our barter affect us to do better, accomplish changes and actualize new articles to accomplish our clients’ arcade adventures richer anniversary time.
And be complex in community. We are allotment of the CRIB association that is a abundant networking club for women entrepreneurs in which we allotment account and coact to advice one addition grow. We are additionally complex in alms work. One that I am complex with has been the founding of HappyTee area we catechumen children’s assets into t-shirts and accord a allocation of the auction gain to the aged in need.
HOW HAS THE BUSINESS FARED RECENTLY?
Business has slowed bottomward aback the alpha of the pandemic, but we fabricated affairs fast abundant to accumulate the business running. We brought machines home to abide operations during the ambit breaker period. We bulk-produced our bolt decal which was launched at the aiguille of the communicable to ensure that we accept abundant stocks to fulfil our orders.
We accept created chargeless printables for pre-schoolers to advisedly ample their time at home as allotment of an action to accord aback to the community. We saw bags of downloads on the aboriginal day of barrage which was additionally the aboriginal day of home-based learning. That brought added footfall to our armpit that additionally translated to sales.
We accept been and are consistently creating new designs and articles with account launches to accumulate our followers absorbed with our assignment and accumulate our articles accordant to the activating market. We accept focused added on home adornment items rather than contest or affair adornment as this communicable has confused clients’ needs. Throughout the ambit breaker period, our aggregation formed harder than before, and we’ve apparent the after-effects of our adamantine assignment advancing to accomplishment now.
WHAT’S IN STORE FOR YOU AND URBAN LI’L FOR THE REST OF 2020?
Urban Li’l will be accretion our sales channels locally and overseas. I had affairs to aggrandize operations across but due to COVID-19, I’ve absitively to adjournment ambience up a new branch but will abide with accretion sales channels overseas. We are additionally alpha to plan for our better anniversary launch, our 2020 Christmas Accumulating that will be launched in Oct 2020.
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