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Nadya Saib, CEO of Wangsa Jelita

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The more transparency there is in the food we eat and the products we put on our skin the faster will be the demand for higher quality and the better off we all will be. Fortunately we have entrepreneurs like Nadya who is creating her own beautiful dynasty out of Indonesia.

What’s your story?

There was a debate among two friends and I about “natural personal care products,” you know, products which are labeled natural, but once you read the ingredients, you’ll be like, “natural? Really?!” Later we found out that there is actually no pharmaceutical regulation in using the word natural, which inspired us to run the business with the true concept of natural. We choose very carefully what should be put into the formulation—based on its benefit to skin, plus the extra rule—100% no harmful chemicals! We call the business Wangsa Jelita, literally means the Beautiful Dynasty.

What excites you most about your industry?

I’m a firm believer that business is an act of service, and apparently Wangsa Jelita’s main beneficiaries are women—whom I very much can relate to. To me personally, it is very exciting (or fulfilling rather) because the more I learn about them (in order to serve them better), the more I learn about myself. I think one of Aristotle’s principles fits this well, that “knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” There are so many other things which I’m grateful for but I feel blessed enough just with that one particular advantage.

What’s your connection to Asia?

Bred, born, and raised. Both of my parents come from west Sumatra, I was born in East Borneo, and raised in Java. So far, I’ve spent my whole life in Asia—Indonesia to be precise (except when my family moved to France for a few years when I was a little kid, but I can’t remember a thing so I don’t think that counts). Not to mention, my palates always have deep love for Asian food.

nadya saib 3

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?

I’ve often heard that Singapore is good, but let me answer from experience: Bandung! Especially for startups, because bootstrappers will find Bandung very convenient (testified!) And also because the sharing environment allows entrepreneurs to learn from each other. The people are just so nice, most Bandung entrepreneurs I know don’t see others as competitions. And it’s a bonus that you can get the balance of a dynamic big city (it is the second largest metropolitan cities in Indonesia) and a beauty of nature surrounding the area (so that you can relax and recharge your mind).

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

Being an entrepreneur, I found this one golden, “one of the goals for entrepreneurs should be they want to find a balance between the thing they love doing and all the other things that are important in life” – Nouman Ali Khan. That leads me to the question which I think every one of us should ponder over, “what ARE the important THINGS in life?” I picked this because too often we were told (at least I was told) that one can be a successful entrepreneur ONLY if they have no other life than their work. And I’ve learned that that’s not true.

Who inspires you?

Well, I look up to my mom because of her compassion, and she has instilled in me the ethic that I must do things wholeheartedly. And that balances the lesson I learned from my dad— to stay reasonable in life. Even my nephews have inspired me to stay curious. The list goes on and on and not just limited to people whom I’ve known or met personally. Just like recently I’ve been obsessed in knowing about the life of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He’s inspired me greatly, especially in terms of dealing with people. So simply put, many!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?

It seems easy to answer “what is your priority in life?” But when we ask ourselves—where do we spend most of our time, what do we think when we get up, what do we stay up at night worrying about, what makes us cry most—and find that the reality reflects otherwise, then it means we don’t know what our priorities are. And I think that’s problematic, because I believe life balance starts with getting our priorities straight.

The fact that many people actually don’t know (nor really question)—what the real priorities are—just blew me away.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

I’m not sure if I want to change my past like doing things differently, but surely I wish I could have done things faster. Same mistakes, same lessons, just faster pace.

How do you unwind?

Playing with my nephews. Playing a game (I just found a new love for Plant vs. Zombies 2, thanks to my twin nephews). Listening to the podcasts I have in my smartphone. Reading books. And playing with my cat.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?

I like Bandung, because I lived there for about 9 years and I think it’s good to relax and reminisce. And also Sumatra, mostly because of the food.

This may sound odd to some, but I really like Singapore simply because it’s pedestrian-friendly (regardless its well-known busy lifestyle). I find walking relaxes my mind. Plus, I love Singapore “carrot cake.”

Everyone in business should read this book:

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Despite his rather horrible attitude, there are so many things an entrepreneur can learn and take from Steve Jobs’ way in making a dent in the universe. (Just don’t take his tantrum).

Shameless plug for your business:

Ever questioned why there are so many chemically laden personal care products in the market? You feel like you want to give the best to your skin, so then you look for the natural-labeled products, but only to be disappointed when you read the ingredients? Same old same old? Wangsa Jelita exists to solve that exact problem.

Check out www.wangsajelita.com or contact our customer service at [email protected], because we offer the TRUE natural personal care produts that have ONLY THE GOOD inside—100% no harmful chemicals!

How can people connect with you?

Feel free to drop me a note at [email protected]! 🙂

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

CallumConnects

Callum Laing has started, built, bought and sold half a dozen businesses in a range of industries across two continents. He is the owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 11 countries and he is also the CEO of Entrevo Asia, a company that runs 40 week Growth Accelerator programs.

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

Benjamin Kwan, Co-Founder of TravelClef

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Making music to create a life for his family, Benjamin Kwan, started an online tuition portal and his music business grew from there.

What’s your story?
I am Benjamin and I’m the Co-Founder of TravelClef Group Pte Ltd, a travelling music school that conducts music classes in companies as well as team building with music programmes. We also run an online educational platform which matches private students to freelance music teachers. We also manufacture our own instruments. I started this company in 2011 when I was still a freshman at NUS, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

I was born to a lower income family, my father drove a taxi and was the sole breadwinner to a family of 7. I have always dreamed of becoming rich so that I could lessen the burden placed on my father and give my family a good life.

After working really hard in my first semester at NUS, my results didn’t reflect the hard work and effort I put in. At the same time, I was left with just $42 in my bank account and it suddenly dawned on me that if I were to graduate with mediocre results, I would probably end up with a mediocre salary as well. I knew I had to do something to gain control of my future.

During that summer break, I read a book “Internet Riches” by Scott Fox and I knew that the only way I could ever start my own business with my last $42 would be to start an online business. That was how our online tuition portal started and after taking 4 days to learn Photoshop and website building on my own, I started the business.

What excites you most about your industry?
Music itself is a constant form of excitement to me as I have always been an avid lover of music. As one of the world’s first travelling music schools, we are always very eager and excited to find innovative ways to a very traditional business model of a music teaching.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore and I love the fact that despite our diversity in culture, there’s always a common language that we share, music.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hands down, SINGAPORE! Although we are currently in talks to expand to other regions within Asia, Singapore is the best place for business. I have had friends asking me if they should consider venturing into entrepreneurship in Singapore, my answer is always a big fat YES! There’s a low barrier of entry, and most importantly, the government is very supportive of entrepreneurship.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I have been blessed by many people and mentors who constantly give me great advice but right now, I would say the best piece of advice that I received would be from Dr Patrick Liew who said, “Work on the business, not in it.” This advice is constantly ringing in my head as I work towards scaling the business.

Who inspires you?
My dad. My dad has always been my inspiration in life, for the amount of sacrifices that he has made for the family and the love he has for us. He was the umbrella for all the storms that my family faced and we were always safe in his shelter. Although my dad passed away after a brief fight with colorectal cancer, the lessons that he imparted to me were very valuable as I build my own family and business.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You can not buy time, but you can spend money to save time! With this realisation, I was willing to allow myself to spend some money, in order to save more time. Like taking Grab/Uber to shuttle around instead of spending time travelling on public transport. While I spend more money on travelling, I save a lot more time! This doesn’t mean that I spend lavishly and extravagantly, I am still generally prudent with my money.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have taken more time to spend with my family and especially my father. While it is important to focus our time to build our businesses, we should always try our best to allocate family time. Because as an entrepreneur, there is no such thing as “after I finish my work,” because our work is never finished. If our work finishes, the business is also finished. But our time with our family is always limited and no matter how much money and how many successes we achieve, we can never use it to trade back the time we have with our family.

How do you unwind?
I am a very simple man. I enjoy TV time with my wife and a simple dinner with my family and friends.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Batam, it’s close to Singapore and there’s really nothing much to do except for massages and a relaxing resort life. If I travel to other countries for shopping or sightseeing, I am constantly thinking of business and how I can possibly expand to the country I am visiting. But while relaxing at the beach or at a massage, I tend to allow myself to drift into emptiness and just clear my mind of any thoughts.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Work The System, by Sam Carpenter. This book teaches entrepreneurs the importance of creating systems and how to leverage on systems to improve productivity and create more time.

Shameless plug for your business:
If you are looking for a team building programme that your colleagues will enjoy and your bosses will be happy with, you have to consider our programmes at TravelClef! While our programmes are guaranteed fun and engaging, it is also equipped with many team building deliverables and organizational skills.

How can people connect with you?
My email is [email protected] and I am very active on Facebook as well!
https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.christian.kwan

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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Nadia Al Sheikh, Founder & CEO of Flenco & Deal’n

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Nadia Al Sheikh has created a business module which incorporates philanthropy and business to empower others, and herself, she’s called her business Deal’n.

What’s your story?
My story is mirrored in my work. Flenco and our Singaporean eco skin care brand, “Flen” combines Dead Sea minerals from the lowest point of earth with Chinese medicine, which represents the wisdom and mystics of the east and these things represent my journey. I’m a single mother rediscovering my identity at a low point in life. Throughout my journey, determination, flexibility and assertiveness are the pillars of innovation. Thus Deal’n was born after years of groundwork in volunteering with various NGO’s and pursuing my masters degree. Transforming a vision, into a module that incorporates philanthropy and business, with tools to empower others and empower myself!

What excites you most about your industry?
The endless opportunities for improvement, innovation, creativity, free thinking which is mastered through interaction with other players in the market and customers creating a virtual place for brainstorming and the exchange of ideas. An evolving industry that challenges each and every person to use their skills, talents, expertise and utilise all their abilities to claim a slice of the pie.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia and specifically Singapore are my second home. It’s my spiritual and business safe haven that provides fair opportunities for everyone to succeed. If I was back in the Middle East as a single mother, I’m pretty sure my struggle would have been much longer and more difficult, however, it wouldn’t have stopped me from achieving my dreams. Singapore specifically empowered me professionally and Asia spiritually in redefining who I am as a person and understanding myself better.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, although it’s a very tough and competitive market for entrepreneurs to start a business, it provides them with support and motivation through grants, competitions and subsidising the cost of exhibiting or promotional events to promote their business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Success is measured by achieving your own personal goals and dreams and not what others think you should achieve.

Who inspires you?
Those who go unnoticed. From senior citizens, cleaning tables at food courts regardless of their wealth of knowledge and experience to single mothers, who are fighting everyday to overcome the social stigma and manage taking care of their children while earning an income. The amazing people who give their lives to start an NGO to empower others asking for nothing in return except the success of their beneficiaries, the humble members of our community that work in silence changing lives not for the spotlight but for their belief in making the world a better place.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
To step onto the balcony! In order to evaluate situations and understand people’s motivations from different perspectives and even to understand ourselves better we all need to step onto the balcony and become observers rather than participants. It gives you the power to see life through a variety of lenses.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’d be wiser with my decisions, evaluate situations from different perspectives and believe in myself and my capabilities. That all came with experience and the ups and downs throughout my journey so I guess, to be who I am today I would have accepted the rough times and embraced them because they were my best teachers. So I wouldn’t undo the past but I am changing my future.

How do you unwind?
Meditation, exercising, listening to music, reading a book and a walk in the botanical gardens.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Maldives, I love the peace and harmony in the simplicity of what it offers; beautiful beaches and wonderful people.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Wisdom Of Crowds by James Surowiecki

Shameless plug for your business:
Deal’n provides opportunities for all members of the community to utilize their skills, talents, expertise, capabilities and abilities in various ways, aiming at empowering all users to become productive members of their community. Using the services of other users for all to grow and benefit, interact with each other through the Deal’n community, thus enhancing their self esteem, level of confidence and as a result, a more empathetic and happier community!

How can people connect with you?
Through my FB page Nadousheh, my email [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@nadiaalsheikh

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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