Connecting people, businesses and brands through boutique trade shows.

What’s your story?
I connect business owners with ideal customers through a boutique  trade show platform, The Expat Fairs. We introduce brands – many are entrepreneurs – to a ready consumer base that embraces quality and innovation. I love the excitement and energy at the marketplace.

Before The Expat Fairs, I had a great corporate career with firms like IKEA and C. Melchers & Co across Asia-Pacific, then stepped out to form my own consultancy firm on Chinese trade, developing strategies for clients such as Toyota F1 China.

In essence, I combine systems and processes with creativity and flexibility when connecting people.

What excites you most about your industry?
People – they are the pulse of our industry. We bring together a wonderful variety of  companies at different stages of development: online retailers or brick-and-mortar shops, start-ups or mature businesses. It is exciting to see new or rejuvenated products and services on offer, consider their potential impact in the market and help them develop.

The discerning consumers we attract desire stimulation and excellence, which pushes us to work at fulfilling their expectations. Their appreciation for quality and interaction with the brands present makes this field thrilling and energetic. Each of these trade shows is commercial curation at its finest.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am from Hong Kong, but have lived and worked in Shanghai, Bangkok, Australia and Jakarta since I was 24. My family is similarly well-travelled: my parents are overseas Chinese-born in Vietnam and Bangkok,  my husband is English and has been in Singapore for 25 years, and we have a 4 year old son. We met in Singapore in 1998, during the company evacuations from Jakarta.

I was based in Jakarta, but just two years later, I was offered a job and partnership in a Singapore-based business. I feel a strong calling here, and I’ve stayed for 16 years since then.

image PitchFestBetty

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
My top choices are Hong Kong and Singapore – but having worked and lived here for 16 years, I prefer Singapore for the balance of business and family life.   The government’s vision and long-term planning, the efficient infrastructure and strong anti-corruption stance makes it very easy to set up a business here. Its relatively safe as well which means that business owners with young families can settle in with less worries.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Value what you do and don’t give up.  A friend of mine had to file for bankruptcy during the 1997 US financial crisis, and had lost everything almost overnight. He had to rebuild his life and business all over again, and now runs his own company worth SGD 5 million. His amazing resilience, positive attitude and mindset has made all the difference, and his advice helps me keep my head up when the going gets tough.

Who inspires you?
Ricky F.M. Law, the former Head of Digital Marketing / Issues and Crisis Communications in DuPont Singapore – as you can imagine, his position made for some very inspiring management decisions.

I am also inspired by the people I know who never give up. I meet many entrepreneurs in my field, and I particularly admire the combination of various attributes such as tenacity, spirit and focus, that keeps them in the game and powers them through the business world.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Realisation in the resources is all out there, you don’t have to own all of them, the key is how to use those resources for your situation. For example, if you  don’t have the products or warehousing or skill set, it does not mean you can’t profit from the products you don’t own.  Priority is knowing your strengths and weaknesses and understanding that the products or services are just a vehicle for a bigger business picture.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would seek out a couple of mentors early on to make my business journey much less travelled and more focused. I share my expertise with the entrepreneurs to help them avoid the mistakes I made.

I would also focus on and value what I set out to be  and connect with others to leverage them. If I had known myself better, I would have saved time and heartbreak. C’est la vie, but I hope others learn from my experience.

How do you unwind?
I used to go sailing with my husband – the sand and the surf is relaxing and takes you away from the vagaries of work. It’s a little more difficult now with our 4 year old son, but we try to recreate the essence of the experience, and instead stay in our small holiday place in Malaysia by the water, surrounded by nature. Certainly a glass of wine and dinner with friends help me to unwind too. Slowing the pace and enjoying the company is always a welcome break.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I would choose Krabi or Koh Samui, or somewhere in the open sea where we can’t get mobile coverage. That’s a great way to switch off your mind.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Leading with GRIT by Laurie Sudbrink. The book guides the reader in both leadership skills and personal growth, tying together both internal and external factors that are important for every business person in a well-structured, easily understandable format.

Shameless plug for your business:
The Expat Fairs produces boutique trade shows that connect small and medium enterprises with unique products and brands to their ideal customers: a regular base of ladies who have high disposable income and come with an intention to spend.
Successful businesses and relationships have been formed from this platform that exposes your brand to an appropriate market of both consumers and potential business partners.

How can people connect with you?
Email: [email protected]
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/betty-c-ashman/75/56a/b23
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bettyashman
My Blog: https://bettyashman.wordpress.com
The Expat Fairs (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/theexpatfairs

Twitter handle?
@bettyashman

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

CallumConnects

Callum 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.

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