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PEOPLE

Two entrepreneurs share their journeys to success

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We all have a dream, but how many of us dare to turn it into a reality? Thomas Fung and Karen Chiang, influencers-turned-entrepreneurs, tell us about their journeys from zero to hero.

The Ice Cream Dream

By day, Thomas Fung (@thomas_fung) is a photographer and personal assistant. But through chasing what he truly loves, he’s now also the owner of ice cream catering company Teemtonefai. His journey began four years ago when he fell in love with a neighbourhood matcha ice cream parlour. “I then started frequenting different ice cream places,” he recalls, and documenting his tastings with the hashtag #teemtonefai on Instagram. Fung’s images are characterised by solid colour backdrops and ice cream swirls in a corresponding Pantone mug.

People quickly took notice of the striking aesthetics of his feed, and the idea to share his favourite dessert with his followers was born. “I became business partners with the owner of dessert shop Oddies,” he explains. “He makes the ice cream, but we develop special flavours together based on specific colours chosen by our clients.”

“My brand embodies everything about me: my love for ice cream and Pantone – I’ve always been fascinated by Pantone colours since I studied digital and graphic design – as well as my design and photography skills,” he continues. Teemtonefai made its debut at Tong Chong Street Market three years ago and in November 2018, started offering catering service as well. Since then he’s worked with brands such as I.T, American Eagle, and most recently, ArtisTree. “We’ve created an exclusive ‘Rainbow’ flavour for their Urban Playgrounds exhibition. It was inspired by their colourfully dressed performers. On the first day all 340 servings were gone within an hour!” he says, beaming with pride.

While starting his own business has come with obstacles, Fung has never thought about giving up. “Time management is certainly a challenge as I have to handle most things on my own, but I’m also lucky to have friends who volunteer to help out,” he says. “It’s been an on-going quest to turn my hobby into a business. Life is short, so we should be doing what makes us happy, and also bring joy to others – that’s what success is to me.”

Blog to Biz

When we think about pursuing our passions, self-doubt is often what pulls us back. To Karen Chiang (@livewellbasics), former online editor and now the founder of digital marketing agency Styli Collective, this is all too familiar.

“I’ve always struggled with the fear of instability when I branch out on my own,” she says. But that didn’t stop her from realising her dream to be her own boss. Eight years ago, while still at her desk job, she started healthy lifestyle site livewellbasics.com. Along the way, she discovered a love for social media marketing and content creation. “Being someone with a very small online following and attempting to grow that over the years has been a constant challenge,” she says.

Thanks to her blog, Chiang had steady freelance opportunities. Eventually, when she felt confident of her client base, she realised it was now or never – and forged out on her own to start Styli Collective. The decision was a gradual but natural one. “I quit my day job because you have to be out there full time for people to discover you,” she says. “If you keep your passion a side gig it may never have a fighting chance.”

Over the years of building her own business, Chiang has had to jump over one hurdle after another. The most difficult of these, however, are her own mental challenges. “The imposter syndrome [the fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’], combined with social anxiety, really prevented me from putting my business and expertise out there,” she shares. “But having supportive people around me really helped me get out of my comfort zone.”

Running a start-up is no easy feat, and Chiang admits she has had her share of bad days. When asked how she gets through tough times, she says, “It’s about celebrating the small victories or looking back on the milestones I’ve reached, both personally and professionally.”

Feeling motivated to start your own business? Check out more tips for start-up here.

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