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Lim Jing Ying, Co-founder of Soule Enterprise

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Lim Jing Ying is ‘Souledeiring’ on with her business, Soule providing, “a sole for every soul.”

What’s your story?
My name is Jing Ying and I co-founded the social enterprise, Soule with my two friends, Justine Lee and John Tay.
Soule is a play on two words – Soul and Sole. It all started as a project in the year 2008 after Justine, my good friend, was impacted by a humanitarian trip to China after finishing his O Level exams. Upon witnessing the lack of proper footwear in the rural villages, Justine thought of a sustainable business model: for every Soule product bought, part of the proceeds will go into helping children in need – aka to provide a Sole for every Soul.
We then started this journey with another friend, John Tay (we were then aged 16 and 17 respectively) and took the business to new heights in the youth’s business and social enterprise platform.
Currently, I am the chief shopkeeper of The Soule Store, selling locally-designed lifestyle goods such as flip-flops, sunglasses and notebooks. A portion of each sale of every Soule product goes into initiatives for children from low-income families and survivors of natural disasters. Our products are housed at our online store and in physical stores like Naiise and The Nail Social.
We have gifted a total of 1,877 pairs of footwear to children in rural schools in China and also footwear for survivors of natural disasters and 154 school bags to Singaporean children. We believe in the viability of a commercially successful brand that can sell attractive products and at the same time generate finances and awareness for social work.
Besides selling products, we recently started branching out into Soule Social Consulting to provide Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) consultancy services to corporations that seek to engage in social work or social engagement projects.

What excites you most about your industry?
What I think excites me the most is the idea that businesses can be a platform to do good, disrupt the way traditional businesses are being done and the concept of doing well, whilst doing good. We are indeed living in exciting times.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m was born and bred in Singapore. One of my favourite countries is China, where we have been doing shoe drops in the past few years to gift the children in the Yunnan province with shoes and school supplies.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
China! Funnily enough, after doing this business for the past 8 years, businesses in Singapore and China have heard about us either through media or word of mouth. Some business owners have approached us to find out more about how they can do their part to help the community – which led to the start of our CSR Consulting arm. In our consulting arm, we aim to help businesses better define and achieve their social objectives and to help give back to their community in sustainable ways.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“You create the world, blink by blink. It is entirely yours to discover and yours to create.”
― Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS

I love this quote as it inspires me to think beyond the box that we constantly and subconsciously house ourselves in.

One more quote!
“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
– Mother Teresa

Who inspires you?
Elim Chew (founder of 77th Street) is probably one female entrepreneur that inspires me to be bold and outspoken about what I believe in. Also, she was a very good mentor to us during our start up days; and her belief in youth inspire me to always give back to the next generation just as she has done for me personally.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I think it was not a recent encounter per say, but I would like to share the story of the girl with the pencil sharpener. During our very first shoe drop in 2010, we collected paper hearts filled with the dreams of the children in China. Before leaving that particular village school in the mountains of Yunnan, Lincang, I came across a written heart by a Primary 3 student, that stated – her dream was to own a pencil sharpener. I was shocked! Before that, when we asked the students, their dreams were lofty and big, and they had ambitions. However, this little girl’s dream was to own a pencil sharpener.
To any of us in Singapore, this item would be a necessity. It really blew me away in that sense. Upon uncovering this dream, we then combed the entire village school and found one last pencil sharpener that was in the staffroom. We then gave it to the girl and she was speechless. It made me realise that it sometimes takes very little to impact another person, me included.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would embrace myself and my failures with a little more grace.

How do you unwind?
I love reading and binge watching different shows on Netflix (not proud of it but not ashamed either!)

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Krabi! I recently went there for a beach vacation and it was really fun. I would love to take another short trip there again soon.

Everyone in business should read this book:
A light, fun read for lady bosses would be #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso. Her advice really speaks to me as she also spearheaded her own brand through e-commerce and selling products online.

Shameless plug for your business:
Soüle = Sole + Soul. Our mission is to provide a sole for every soul.
Can shopping change the world? We think so. Every purchase you make at Soule goes towards empowering someone in need. Since 2008, our “Sole for every Soul” initiative and Souledier movement have enabled change through shopping – a portion of each sale of every Soule product goes into initiatives for children living under the poverty line and survivors of natural disasters. To find out more about us, check out www.soule.com.sg 🙂

How can people connect with you?
Email: [email protected]
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/limjingying
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jyings

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:

CallumConnectsCallum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia.  He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries.  He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence.  A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.

Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Get his free ‘Asia Snapshot’ report from www.callumlaing.com

Callum Connects

Jasmine Tan, Director of Stone Amperor

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Jasmine saves her clients time and effort when doing kitchen fit outs with her biz Stone Amperor.

What’s your story?
I started working in the industry in 2003. I was in a marble and granite supplier company for 5 years. Even though I left the company, I still had customers calling me for my services. I referred them back to my previous company but they refused to because they loved the fast response service that I offered. I realised that customers do look at prices, however most of them prefer quality over quantity. Thus I have decided to establish a sole proprietor company also known as 78 Degrees which later rebranded as Stone Amperor in 2014.

What excites you most about your industry?
The kitchen countertop industry is a very confusing market. There are many brands, materials and prices to choose from. What excites me the most is my ability to help clients choose the best materials and brands within their budgets, whilst saving them time and effort.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I have been in Asia all my life and I love Asia. No matter where you go there is no place like home.


Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I love Singapore. This is because Singapore has always been a stable country and it is great for doing business. However as it is a small country, it can be really competitive. I believe that if just do your best and give your best to your customers, you can overcome this.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Take actions. Learn and improve continuously. An idea without action is just a dream.” This was really good advice that I received from my partner.

Who inspires you?
A very down to earth billionaire from Malaysia, Robert Kuok

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Property is the foundation of every business.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Own instead of renting property for my business.

How do you unwind?
I enjoy going shopping, watching movies and hanging out with friends. I am quite a simple being.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love going to Taiwan as I love the culture there. Everyone is so polite and the weather is great.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Sun Tzu, Art of war

Shameless plug for your business:
Perfect top, Perfect price, Perfect life from Stone Amperor

How can people connect with you?
Email me at [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@StoneAmperor

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Callum Connects

Dextre Teh, Founder of Rebirth Academy

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Dextre Teh is a consultant and marketing guru, helping F&B businesses to tighten their operations and grow their businesses.

What’s your story?
I help frustrated F&B business owners stuck in day to day operation transform from a glorified operator into a real business owner. I’m a 27 year old Singaporean second generation restaurant owner and a F&B business consultant. Entering the industry at 13 years old, I have always been obsessed with operations and systemisation. At the age of 25, I joined the insurance industry and earned a six figure yearly income. However, I left the high pay behind because it was not my passion and returned to the F&B industry. Now I help other F&B companies to tighten operations and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services.

What excites you most about your industry?
The food. I’m a big lover of food and even have a YouTube show on food in development. But that aside, it is really about impacting people through food. Creating moments and memories for people, be it a dating couple or families or friends. Providing that refuge from the daily grind of life. So in educating my consulting clients and training their staff to provide a better experience for their customers, I aim to shift the industry in the direction of creating memories instead of just selling food.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore. I love the culture, the food and travelling in Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore hands down. The environment here is built for businesses to thrive. The government is pro business and the infrastructure is built around supporting business growth. Not to mention the numerous amount of grants available in helping people start and even grow business. If I’m not mistaken, the Singaporean government is the only government in the world that offers grants to home grown businesses for overseas expansion.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Learning to do things you do not intend to master is a BIG mistake in business. Focus on what you are good at and pay others to do the rest.

Many business owners including myself are so overwhelmed by the 10,000 things that they feel they need to do everyday. We try to do everything ourselves because we think it saves us money. The only thing that, that does for us is overload our schedules and give us mediocre results. Instead we should focus on what we do best and bring in support for the rest.

Who inspires you?
Christopher M Duncan.

At 29, Chris has built multiple 7 figure businesses. He opened me to the possibility of building a business on the thing that I loved and gave me a blueprint of how to do it. He also showed me that being young doesn’t mean you cannot do great things.

Imran Mohammad and Fazil Musa
They are my mentors and inspire me every single day to pursue my dreams, to focus on celebrating life and enjoying the process of getting to where I want to be.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Time is always more expensive than money. Money, you can earn over and over again but time, once you spend it, will never come back.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I am a firm believer that your experiences shape who you are. I am grateful for every single moment of my life be it the highs or the lows, the successes and the failures because all these experiences have led me to become the person I am and brought me to the place that I’m at so I will probably do things the same way as everything was perfect in its time.

How do you unwind?
Chilling out in a live music bar with a drink in hand, listening to my favourite live band, 53A. Other than that I’m big on retail therapy, buying cool and geeky stuff.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bangkok. It feels like a home away from home where the cost of living is relatively low, the food is good and the people are friendly.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Everything you know about business is wrong by Alastair Dryburgh. It is a book that challenges commonly accepted business “truths” and inspires you to go against the grain, think different, take risks and stand your ground in the face of the challenges that will come your way as a business owner.

Shameless plug for your business:
I’m the creator of the world’s first Chilli Crab Challenge. It gained viral celebrity earlier this year with 3 major newspaper features and more than a dozen blog and online publications featuring it in the span of two weeks. In the span of the two weeks, the campaign reached well over a million people in exposure without a single cent spent in ads.

Now I help F&B companies to tighten operations, increase profits and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services. Chilli Crab Challenge (https://www.chillicrab.com/nationalday)

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/djtehkh) or visit www.rebirthacademy.sg for more information or book a 10 minute call with me @ www.tinyurl.com/dexclar

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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