Connect with us

Entrepreneurship

Theresa Shuman, Founder of Thérèse de Vintage

Published

on

Theresa Shuman is the founder and owner of Thérèse De Vintage, an independent fashion boutique based in Hong Kong that specializes in vintage goods and apparels. Through Thérèse De Vintage, she has been passionately working within a niche market, actively broadening the demand and interest for vintage goods. Originally hailing from Hong Kong, Theresa developed a creative passion for fashion and a vision for an independent career, at a very young age. As a child, Theresa would often fix and alter her own clothing to her personal liking. Her talents were eventually recognized, as she was accepted and read Fashion Design and Women’s Wear, at the renowned London College of Fashion. Having built her own technical expertise and industry acumen, Theresa decided to start her own boutique focusing on vintage goods, a passion she acquired whilst living and studying in Canada in her teenage years.

The Asian Entrepreneur is joined by Theresa Shuman today, in an interview session about the valuable and interesting insights she has developed working on her own business.

So tell us about Thérèse De Vintage.

Well, Thérèse De Vintage is really a store that specializes in vintage goods that I have personally sourced and collected from different parts of the world that I’ve traveled to. However, I feel my store goes beyond that because to me, these goods are more than goods or products in the conventional business sense. To me, they are items of significance. I say this because as vintage goods, each of them possesses a history and a story, you are buying a piece of time, you are buying a piece of that story from the totally quaint world of where it originated from. So, I like to think of Thérèse De Vintage as a store that deals in stories.

What kind of vintage goods do you deal in?

At Thérèse De Vintage, I think you can find a bit of everything. I predominantly deal in fashion goods which is my forte. On that front, you can find clothes, hats, bags, and various fashion accesories. But you’d be surprise to also find other things at the store. I also source and deal in other goods like watches, calculators, camera and unique jewellery.

129

And what drove you to start Thérèse De Vintage?

Actually ever since I was young, I’ve always had a love for vintage things. I think this love comes from my nolstagic appreciation of things from the past. I find vintage things to be very different, as I was just trying to explain to you earlier. I think they possess distinct memories and stories, locked in time and that is reflected in their appearance as well which is vastly different from their modern counterpart. I’ve always loved that and I found myself collecting them at a very young age, for me its a very natural thing. For example, I would see a quirky vintage watch by an antique shop and I would think to myself, “I want to bring this story back home with me.” I see it as collecting stories.

The actual idea for a vintage store was an idea that I had for quite awhile. In fact, I can trace it back to high school. The concept is something that is very immemorial, it stems out of my own passion to share the stories that I have collected with others.

When did you decide to open your store?

I wanted to start this store earlier than I did. However, back then I did not actually have the support and expertise to actually initiate this idea. I was quite young. Believe it or not, my family and friends were against it. Many people were concerned about whether I was capable of actually managing my own business. It was not until last year that I actually opened my own store.

And why did you decide to open your store in Hong Kong as opposed to abroad?

That is actually a very good question. Initially, I was interested in setting up my store in the United Kingdom. However, being from Hong Kong, I find myself more familiar with the market and the business environment of my country. I understand the culture and the mentality of the customers. I believe this sense of familiriaty is something that I could capitalize on in the pursuit of my own business. It was something that I wanted to operate on. So I would say, it was a practical move as well on my part.

128

So tell us about the startup process.

The process of starting up Thérèse De Vintage was quite specific and methodical. Prior to starting this store, I’ve already developed a sense of how the business model would be like. This was based on my experience of visiting and seeing many vintage boutiques over the years. With a keen eye, I was able to almagamate their approach and their model for operating such a business. When I was finally back in Hong Kong, I committed myself to market research. The priority for me was finding out whether there were other such stores, where they were and how they operated. Along with this, was a consideration of how I could set myself apart from these stores and how I could offer something valuable to the consumers out there. So there was a lot of planning went into what I wanted to do.

When I reached the stage where I thought to myself that I actually had a sense of what I wanted to do and how to do it, I went ahead to seek out a location for my retail space.

How is the vintage market like in Hong Kong

To be honest, I think the market for vintage goods in Hong Kong is very, very small. I find it to be quite underdeveloped and fraught with many difficulties. It’s safe to say that it has not reached the levels of the markets that you find abroad in the West. By that I mean that abroad, in the West, they possess a serious appreciation for vintage goods. There is a great demand for them. They’ve come to not only understand the vintage culture but also to admire it. So, for example, in Canada where I was introduced to this culture, you will find many such stores which are very popular with the locals.

On the other hand, in Hong Kong they’ve not come to totally grasp the concept. To the people in Hong Kong, they see such goods as old goods and nothing more. They don’t see the sentimental significance nor come to appreciate the style of vintage goods. They prefer new goods and they just can’t bring themselves to understand, let alone appreciate, why they would ever settle for something that is not new. I say this with personal experience, as I’ve personally encountered customers who have queried as to why the goods I was carrying seemed old and this has been something that I have been working to overcome.

Did you change your business approach to cater to this fact?

Yes. It’s quite interesting actually, the nature of the vintage market here in Hong Kong, has had an effect of how I marketed my goods. Initially, in selecting the retail location for my store, I had my mind set on opening the store in Central, Hong Kong. There were already a few similar stores in Central, so I can imagine that the location would be frequented by a lot of vintage lovers, who atleast understood the goods that I was trying to sell. However, I settled for another location that was quite far from Central. Many of the people I have encountered here, just fail to see the signficance and value of the goods. This has required me to do certain things differently. I have often found myself tirelessly trying to explain the signficance of the goods to those who can’t seem to wrap their heads around it.

Greater business decisions had to be taken as well. So for example, in my boutique, I’ve also introduced non-vintage goods along with vintage goods. This has helped me attract customers and has allowed me an opportunity to sell the vintage goods themselves. As in the initial phases, I found that it was very difficult and quite infeasible to operate my store entirely on vintage goods in such a market. I’ve also had to take a different approach to pricing, more specifically, I’ve had to cut down on the profit margins because people in Hong Kong are only willing to spend so much on vintage goods. Whereas, I believe if I were doing this overseas in the West, I would be able to operate on a higher and more fruitful profit margin.

127

Have you encountered any disappointments so far?

I’ve found some customer remarks disappointing. I’ve met some customers who’ve said things along the lines of: “Why is it the things you are selling, seem like they came from the dumpster?” Sometimes I have to deal with some ignorant and often confused customers, who often make comments like this. Though unintentional, they can be quite hurtful in regards to what I am trying to achieve. Despite this, I believe in professionalism, so in dealing in my business I put personal sentiments and emotions aside.

Do you have a lot of competitors in Hong Kong?

In Hong Kong there aren’t a lot of competitors in this field. The main issue does not lie so much in competition but rather the fact that the market has not developed into a market that widely accepts goods of this kind. So I believe that is matched by the amount of players in this industry, which based on my research there really are less than 30. I think there would be more competition in the West.

Could you share with us any insights you’ve developed about this industry?

There is quite a few things that can be said here. Given the niche nature of the industry in Hong Kong, market research becomes very important aspect of the industry. In Hong Kong, people have very specific tastes when it comes to vintage goods. You have to find out exactly what their tastes are and cater to it. In my experience, I’ve discovered that they are more interested in vintage bags as opposed to other goods.

Aside from this, I think ambience is also an important aspect in surviving in this industry. In this industry, I think you would have to go the extra mile, again because of the nature of the industry. You would need to know how to attract your customers beyond the basis of just the goods you carry because they don’t fully understand the value of the goods you carry. So the presentation becomes very, very important. In my store, I’ve fully utilized music, scents and specific self-designed lighting, altogether to create a unique ambience that makes potential customers raise an eyebrow.

126

In your experience, what kind of people in Hong Kong buy vintage goods?

I think most people who buy vintage goods in Hong Kong, are mostly bargain hunters. They don’t really buy it for the same reason, as one might overseas. They don’t buy it because they have a genuine appreciation for the vintage value of the goods, rather because they appreciate how such goods are undervalued monetary-wise, compared to many of the non-vintage goods out there. So for example, one might buy a vintage bag because they find it to be cheap and they think they’ve scored a good bargain on it. Personally, I’ve not met many vintage lovers, this is quite disappointing but again, this is a really young market.

In your opinion, what is the key to entrepreneurial success?

Having an understanding of what you want to achieve is very important. I believe that many successful entrepreneurs possess a foresight of where they want to be and to them their journey are just incremental steps that they take towards the goal. Having that kind of direction is important. The adequate amount of preparation is also important, and this may include having done the right market research. But most importantly, you should have genuine passion in what you are doing. If you have the right passion and motivation in doing what you are doing, I really believe that will take you really far.

What are your own plans for the future?

Aside from the vintage boutique which I plan to develop further, I am also currently working towards establishing my own fashion brand under my own name. This has always been a dream of mine that I have been slowly working on. Essentially, I would like to set up such a brand in the near future, focusing mainly on intricately designed women’s wear.

Any parting words of wisdom for our readers?

If you have never dreamt of living in a castle, you will never live in a castle.

125

Connect with Theresa Shuman and Therese De Vintage today:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThereseDeVintage?fref=ts
Email: [email protected]

Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Daphne Ng, CEO of JEDTrade

Published

on

(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Daphne Ng is the CEO of JEDTrade, a blockchain technology company focused on trade, supply chain, and financial inclusion projects in ASEAN. She is also the Scretary-General at ACCESS and Exco. of Singapore Fintech Association

What makes you do what you do?
I was introduced to blockchain technology in 2016 after I left my corporate banking career after 10 years. It was my mentor who first got me interested in this technology, which I then went on to delve further into, on its potential applications in the lending and trade finance space – domains where I came from.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?
Being in the space for 2 years and actively involved in the ecosystem, I was able to bring on the projects, network and a good degree of thought leadership in this vertical. Early on in the startup journey, our team faced many challenges. And to me, the key to rising above failures are two essential factors – resilience and support. While resilience is innate, I received a lot of help be it in terms of connections or advice. ‘Nobody succeeds without help’ rings very true for me.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
From the start, I focused on my domain expertise in trade finance and the application construct of how blockchain and DLT can be applied to these use cases. Also, my strategy from the start was to build a technology company made up of 80% tech and engineers, which is also our key competitive advantage today. At the end of the day, deliverables are about strategy and execution, which includes building and leading an ‘A’ team.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?
I have many mentors, which includes our company advisors (all of whom are well-known in this industry) and mostly informal mentors I meet via my connections, and on various occasions and circumstances. Creating opportunities also means putting myself in the right place, at the right time. And in my case, these were mostly organic and genuine friendships formed from the initial connection.

How did you make a match if you and how did you end up being mentored by him?
To me, a match in values is very important. It also takes humility to ask for help and be willing to listen to advice, which is important in order for mentorships to be successful – be it formal or informal.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
I love this question! I am passionate about building strong teams and helping my people grow. I abide by the 3Rs when identifying talents: resourcefulness, resilience and right values. And then I invest in the ‘potential’ and this means giving them room to lead, make decisions and take risks.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
My support of diverse talents, skillsets and characters can be seen in the make-up of our core team – all helming specific roles and each bringing their own value to the table. We need the sum of all parts to build a great company.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
Great leaders emerge in times of failures and challenges, never abandoning the team, and always putting the team’s interests before her own. And I consciously live by these mottos every day.

Advice for others?
My advice to other entrepreneurs: be resolute and dare to be different. If you are going to follow others, then you will end up on the same path as them. No right or wrong; but I would rather chart my own path. This June, we are officially launching our blockchain project, Jupiter Chain (www.jupiterchain.tech), which have garnered much interest in the industry, even before we made it public. We believe this project is the epitome of marrying innovation with practical implementation, and we want to be the first to truly operationalize blockchain for our ecosystem projects in this region.


If you’d like to get in touch with Daphne Ng, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daphne-ng-%E9%BB%84%E7%91%9E%E7%8E%B2/

To learn more about JEDTrade, please click here.

Continue Reading

Callum Connects

Jace Koh, Founder of U Ventures

Published

on

Jace Koh believes cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. Understanding it will enhance your ability to run and manage your business.

What’s your story?
My name is Jace Koh and I am the Founder of U Ventures. I’ve always been inclined towards investment and entrepreneurship. I’ve played a hand in starting businesses across these industries – professional services, cloud integration, software and music. I believe that succeeding in business is tough, but that’s what makes the rewards even sweeter.

What excites you most about your industry?
Everything excites me. These are my beliefs:

  • Why is accounting important?
    The accounting department is the heart. Cash flow is like blood stream, it pumps blood to various parts of the body like cash flow is pumped to various departments and/or functions in a business. It is vital to the life and death of the business.
  • Is accounting boring?
    Accountants are artists too. They paint the numbers the way they want them to be.
  • What makes a good accountant?
    A good accountant can tell you a story about the business by looking at the numbers.
  • Why is budgeting and projection important?
    Accountants are like fortune tellers, they can predict the numbers and if you wish to understand your business and make informed decisions, feel free to speak to our friendly consultants to secure a meeting.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore, and here’s where I want to be.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is my favourite city. We have great legal systems in place, good security and people with integrity. Most importantly, we have a government that fosters a good environment for doing business. I recently went for a cultural exchange programme in Hong Kong to learn more about their startups. I found out that the Hong Kong government generally only supports local business owners in terms of grants. They’ve recently been more lenient and changed the eligibility to include all businesses that have at least 50% local shareholding. But comparing that to Singapore, the government only requires a 30% local shareholding to obtain government support. In the early days of starting a business, all the support you can get is precious. It’s great that we have a government that understands that.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best time ever to plant a tree was 10 years ago as the tree would have grown so big to provide you with shelter and all. When is the next best time to plant a tree? It is today. Because in 10 years time, the tree would have grown big enough to provide you shelter and all.

Who inspires you?
Jack Ma. His journey to success is one of the most inspiring as it proves that with determination and great foresight, even the poorest can turn their lives around. I personally relate to his story a lot, and this is my favourite quote from him, “If you don’t give up, you still have a chance. Giving up is the greatest failure.”

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’ve faced multiple rejections throughout my business journey, and recently came across a fact on Jack Ma about how he was once rejected for 32 different jobs. It resonated very deeply and taught me the importance of tenacity, especially during tough times.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I live a life with no regrets. Everything I do, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, happy or sad, and regardless of outcome, it’s a lesson with something to take away.

How do you unwind?
I love to pamper myself through retail therapy and going for spas. I also make a conscious effort to take time off work to have a break outside to unwind as well as to uncloud my mind. This moment of reflection from time to time helps me see more clearly on how I can improve myself.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan! Good food with no language barriers and the people are great!

Everyone in business should read this book:
I don’t really read books. Mostly, I learn from my daily life and interactions with hundreds of other business owners. To me, people tell the most interesting stories.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re not just corporate secretaries, we’re “business doctors.”
U Ventures is a Xero certified advisory firm that goes beyond traditional accounting services to provide solutions for your business. You can reach us on our website: http://uventures.com.sg/

How can people connect with you?
Converse to connect. You can reach me via email at [email protected] or alternatively, on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacekoh/

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

Continue Reading

Trending