Through food creation, Natasha Chiam is positively affecting people’s lives.
What’s your story?
I grew up in Melbourne, Australia, where my family has lived for about 30 years. I trained as a lawyer, but a year after I was admitted to the profession in Australia I decided to move to journalism. I wrote about beauty for a fashion magazine for two years before starting my business, The Ice Cream & Cookie Co.
What excites you most about your industry?
Food is such a huge part of human life. It’s a part of how we celebrate, how we socialise and interact and characterises our culture. Being in the food business – and more importantly, being in the business of making (not just buying or selling) food – means we literally create products that will be part of people’s everyday. It’s exciting that what we create has such tangible effects on people’s lives.
What’s your connection to Asia?
My parents are originally from Singapore. My father had a business there for over 40 years, so we spent many school holidays there.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It would have to be Singapore – in part because I have not personally done much business anywhere else in Asia yet. Some benefits of doing business in Singapore are good corporate governance and consumers who are open to trying new things.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Pick something you’re good at and persevere.
Who inspires you?
I take inspiration from friends, family and of course leaders in their fields (be it in business, arts or academia). Everyone has a story, so if you can be bothered to listen there is inspiration everywhere. I recently met a woman whose husband left her for her best friend. She had no job, and two young children to care for. Instead of indulging in self-pity she went for training and found a job in real estate, decided to save even more money for her family by driving for Uber, and now even does charity work for children living in poverty.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Gary Vaynerchuck said, “Behind every B is a C.” Basically, in the B2B space we often forget that a human still makes all the key decisions. There are more similarities between B2B and B2C than we traditionally acknowledge. This struck a chord with me because this is the field my business plays in.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would not change a thing. I’m a great believer in the fact that everything happens for a reason. Setbacks or challenges push you forward to where you are today. I don’t believe in regrets or “wasted” opportunities – nothing is a waste if you don’t let it become one. All experiences are lessons and chances to improve.
How do you unwind?
I’m a natural introvert, so I like to have quiet time at home. I might watch some TV, or open a bottle of wine and order pizza with my husband.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Hanoi, Vietnam. It’s not your typical tropical beach situation, the city is actually quite dusty – but it has old-world charm. I always stay at the Sofitel Metropole. It’s a very elegant, beautiful and peaceful hotel, perfect for a weekend getaway.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Setting the Table: the Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business by Danny Meyer, one of the New York’s most influential restaurateurs. Although he writes based on his experience in the restaurant industry, many of his ideas and principles are applicable to other fields. While reading his book it became very clear to me that genuine hospitality and warmth are key to success in any industry.
Shameless plug for your business:
If you run an F&B establishment in Singapore, let us take care of your dessert needs. Get in touch by e-mail to [email protected].
If you’d like to try our ice cream, you can find them online at www.dessert.sg and follow our unfolding story on instagram @icecreamcookieco.
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
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.
Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>