Simone Ng loves working with gems. In her business, Simone Jewels she creates unique one off pieces to be coveted by their new owners.
What’s your story?
Doing what I love and loving what I do has been the most rewarding. My journey started out of passion for jewellery and gemstones. Back in 2006, I started Simone Jewels, designing pieces that merge art into jewellery and ensuring that each and every design would be the only piece in the world. Recognising back then that we were going to move into an era of individualism, many would share the same passion as me for loving all things unique. Just fresh from my MBA studies and still nursing my 2-year old toddler and 1-year old baby, I launched a collection with just 20 one-of-a-kinds. Within 30 minutes, I sold half my collection. That was truly encouraging and the beginning of a very exciting journey. Today, sales have grown more than 50 times with the concept of purely distributing through events.
What excites you most about your industry?
The most exciting part of my journey are my customers. Being in the industry that makes people happy gives me that adrenalin rush. Many of the customers whom have been supporting and encouraging me throughout my journey are now my friends. We have gotten to know each other well. That is priceless. Good friendship can never be bought.
In addition, it is such a beautiful experience to be in this specialised trade. Being able to see and be part of the process of how these natural resources, produced by mother nature make their journey through millions of years under the earth into a beautiful piece of jewellery, is truly amazing.
What’s your connection to Asia?
My ancestors came from Guangzhou and since the late 1800s have all settled in Malaysia. My paternal grandparents ran businesses which include jewellery as one of them. My maternal grandparents were national shooters. Their lifestyles have allowed me to meet many people throughout this region as I used to often tag along from a very early age.
Personally, I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur.. Having had the privilege of growing up in a multiracial environment, I am thankful for the exposure to different cultures, languages and dialects. Today, I am grateful that I am able to converse smoothly in English, Malay, Indonesian, Mandarin and am able to understand several Chinese dialects.
I met my husband while I was studying in Australia. He’s an Indonesian born Chinese and an Australian citizen. After we got married, we lived in Melbourne before moving to Singapore almost 16 years ago. I love being back in Asia!
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
My favourite city is Singapore. It’s a wonderful city with a vibrant multi-racial society and residents from all over the world. One may say, you don’t have to live in different countries to experience the world. Living in Singapore gives you a glimpse of what that is like. I get the opportunity to serve many different people from all walks of life and nationality. It is also the home to many “who’s who” and ranked one of the top most liveable cities in the world.
Singapore provides a very good platform to reach out to other countries in the region. With the government providing transparency and many other support systems, it gives businesses like ours an opportunity to build a good foundation for expansion. In the last few years, the government has been promoting Singapore as a design hub. This is a very exciting place to be now and I feel very fortunate to be here at this time.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I have been very blessed with a lot of great advice from my loved ones as well as close friends.
From my mum, the woman I am most grateful for, “Be true to yourself and stay grounded. All things may change but nobody can ever change who you are. Integrity is important and this will take you a long way.”
From my forum mates in the Entrepreneurship Organization – “Enjoy every moment of your journey. Passion cannot be bought but comes from within. When your business journey is led by passion, many beautiful things will come out of it. At the end of the day, nobody can rob you of the brand you have built. You are your brand!”
From my husband and best friend, “There is no hurry in chasing success. Success comes from patience in building a strong foundation. Without it, you will have nothing to fall back on. A strong foundation allows you to pick yourself up anytime.” He also encouraged me to stick to the concept of retailing through events and not through a retail shop, at least in Singapore. This has allowed me to focus on the more important things such as building the brand, creating beautiful designs and maintaining a good relationship with my customers.
Who inspires you?
My maternal grandfather inspires me the most. When he and my great grandmother arrived in Malaysia from China, they had literally nothing. Shortly after, was World War II. Times were very difficult but he was very resourceful and was able to survive through it. As a young boy, he didn’t have the opportunity to go to school but he taught himself to read and write. When the war ended, he taught himself the art of shooting and became very good at it. One thing led to another, very soon, he represented Malaysia in competing in the Asean Games, Sea Games and more. He then built his business in this field. He also trained the police force, military and royalties in shooting and archery.
My maternal grandmother was also very gifted. She can do anything by just watching once. This includes cutting hair and sewing which led her to venture into opening her own businesses in these fields. She later took an interest in shooting and archery and competed alongside with my grandfather in the women’s category.
Both have taught me that if you believe, it can come true. It is an excuse when one says I did not receive education or training in that field or you are not gifted in something. Everything is possible with the correct mindset. Never be afraid but be bold and dream. Dream big. Be passionate about what you do and never look back.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I was reading a book by Mikko Niemela called “Anatomy of Cyberattack.” It is scary to know that cyber hackers have the power to destroy loves, shut down businesses and affect every one of us around the world. It got me thinking on how we can be protected and stay safe.
Artificial intelligence is also the talk of the world right now. I am excited to see how this whole thing will unfold and how they will eventually replace many things including people. Embracing this, it is necessary to think about how this will impact my business in future.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I could do it all over again, I would have started my business 10 years earlier. Although I had a very good steady growth, reflecting back, the most challenging time came when my children were still very young and needed my attention. They say it takes 100 years to build a brand. I am challenging myself to achieve this in lesser time.
We are now slowly expanding our brand into other countries through independent distributors. So far, we have seen interesting results for both us and the distributor. If I had started this earlier, expansion outside of Singapore would have been much easier.
How do you unwind?
I love to travel and explore different places as it gives me inspiration and I enjoy that. My best travel buddy is my husband. Together we enjoy good food/wine and music.
I also enjoy my evening walks with my ipod in tow. This is the time that I recharge, reenergize and clear my mind.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I have a soft spot for Penang. I love that it’s very quaint and historical. Being surrounded by the sea is a very serene feeling and yet you are still right in the city. The food is fantastic too.
Everyone in business should read this book:
The biography of Coco Chanel. She ruled over Parisian haute couture for almost six decades. Her story on how she built her fashion empire and into a world class brand name today is very inspiring for women entrepreneurs.
I believe that there is a lesson in every past that we can learn from to help us go forward better into the future. This is reflected in our brand ethos: “Yesterday’s Tales. Today’s Creation. Tomorrow’s Inspiration.”
Shameless plug for your business:
Multimedia and social media is very vital for brand building these days. We need to grow our following in a very short span of time.
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.
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