City News writer Yeo Zhi Qi shares how she became a business owner who sells the Hollywood hottie known as FLATOUTbear.
They say that when you start work, your world transforms into a universe of possibilities. Fresh out of school and taking your first breath of crisp financial independence, you are suddenly confronted with a new social circle exposing you to a whole spectrum of varied life paths. With countless choices, your life would, henceforth, be one exciting rollercoaster ride.
Or so I thought. Like everyone else, I found myself a job shortly upon graduation. And perhaps like most others, I found myself on the train to work every morning at nine, walking to the same few eateries for lunch every afternoon at 1pm, and getting off work when the sky has grown dark every night, occasionally wondering if this is how my days would be replayed, year after year, for the rest of my life.
Then one evening, staring at the Raffles Place skyline, I realized the mould that most of our lives fall into. There is the prestigious job that you fought so hard for, the flat that accompanies the marriage, the wife’s branded, status-shouting bag that has to be bought, the husband’s car that would make life easier and sweeter. And along with those are the mortgages, the credit card bills, and the money that has to be earned to maintain what we have accepted as a happy and fulfilling life.
Most people end up toiling for the rest of their lives in a job they neither hate nor love; after all, there are bills to be paid. Don’t get me wrong—there is nothing wrong with diligence and pragmatism. As much as these are virtues I applaud, I figured that life is too short to lead a calculated and measured one, so I took a stab in the dark and started an online shop called Rollover last December.
I guess some will find the idea of an online shop selling teddy bears ludicrous. For someone who comes close to being absolutely clueless about running a business, there are a dozen other profitable ways to earn money—parking your assets in some stocks and bonds is probably more cost-effective than trying to sell handmade, sheepskin bears.
Normally, I would agree. But my online store was not birthed with the intention to rake in cash. It started from a dinnertime thought. This wild idea to import FLATOUTbears from Australia then saw me endure sleepless nights when my mind would be buzzing with ideas on how I could design the site, what I would name the store, who I should market the bears to. Being the sole proprietor, it saw me waking up at six in the morning, painstakingly drafting logos and icons, and firing out emails before I scooted off to my day job. It saw me battling the Christmas crowd to source for suitable packaging, staying up till midnight for photo shoots … and the list continues.
This is not a rant about abandoning your job to chase your dreams. I don’t believe that only by doing the one thing you think you love, you would then be a satisfied and wholesome person. I think life is about balancing the things we enjoy with the things that are necessary.
Stepping out of our comfort zone to venture onto the untrodden path of business is stepping into the realm of unknown—laborious and risky. However, my online shop is not a huge risk but a baby step of spontaneity, and it has added a dose of color to the daily grind. The business has sprung up little surprises; the Facebook page has reunited me with both old friends and bare acquaintances; and doing up the website has brought me into a whole new world of design and creative work. Sales has been reasonably brisk as well, with 42 bears sold since the business started. I now find myself constantly thinking about how businesses thrive, trying to understand the different marketing approaches and crossing thought boundaries I would otherwise have not have done without this simple online shop.
It has not been a bed of roses. Sometimes, there seems to be a lot more ploughing than reaping but it has been a meaningful adventure nonetheless. And all this started from a little idea that was not dismissed.
FLATOUTbears are made of 100 percent pure Australian sheepskin. The FLATOUTbear is two-inch flat, and comes in two sizes. It boasts a celebrity following that includes Hugh Jackman, Paris Hilton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tom Cruise and Jennifer Garner. S$60 to S$80 at www.rollover.com.sg or Facebook page: Rollover SG.