Serena likes to stay positive in life and business. Growing up and working in Singapore, she has a great contact base and a good eye, giving her talent agency a good start with a constant flow of work year round.
What’s your story?
I am 23-year veteran model based in Singapore and I manage my commercial modeling agency, Mint Management. Mint Management represents locally-based commercial models/talents ranging from infants to seniors.
I am also a spiritual healer, student of homeopathy and an attached parent. Projects close to my heart are centered around life mastery, women empowerment, gentle birthing and natural healing.
Life is such a joy worth living. Be yourself and have fun.
What excites you most about your industry?
Gone are the days when models need to be tied to an agency. New models tend to get stuck on the ‘glamour’ of who they are contracted to, not considering that they may be shelved and jobless for the most part of their contract period.
What we like to do instead, is scout freelancers and regular people as needed and use as large a variety of talent as possible in the course of our work. With such a huge and open contact base and a good eye, I believe I can turn almost anyone we scout into a paid model.
Also, there is a huge diversity in commercial talent management, granting us a constant flow of work throughout the year, not only during the fashion festivals.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born here. Dad is Caucasian American and mum is Chinese Peranakan and I have the best of both worlds in terms heritage, education, language and sensibilities. I’m very free-spirited like a hippie yet very traditional like a good Chinese daughter. The perfect oxymoron.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Most definitely Singapore for a number of reasons. First and foremost I was taught that you do what you know, where you are. I started modeling here (and in the region) since I was 15. The experience and contacts that I’ve garnered over the years is invaluable. Although my agency is only 5 years old, I started preparing for it years before that. As they say, it takes 10,000 hours to do something really well. I’ve been doing this for 23 years. Singapore is also great for people to start their business. The country does well, has lots of services to offer and costs are kept relatively low for business owners. With the diversity in expatriates and prosperity of the people, someone will be out there looking for the services you can offer.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Quit your day job if you hate it. You will never be able to find what you’re good at and pursue your dreams if you’re still afraid to quit your job and forgo that paycheck. Most of the people around me are entrepreneurs and it’s eye-opening to see others in the process of breaking out of their comfort zones and taking a chance on themselves. If you absolutely believe that you have something good to sell and are great at it, please invest in yourself and try it out. People are too afraid to try in case they fail and so they suffer through the drudgery of life which they thus create for themselves because they are scared.
Who inspires you?
People who are genuinely happy inspire me. If you can attain the insight that happiness is not at the end of a million dollars, a university degree or a marriage and that it is a choice you make at any given time to be grateful and free there and then, life is truly gold. Being true to yourself and living without any regrets is the best way to develop one’s true happiness, in my opinion. Those little steps serve to cultivate a mindfulness that happiness is not destination and that miracles are present in every moment in your life, should you choose to see them.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I recently learnt that everything that has ever happened to us, our successful business, the car that cut into our lane, the abusive partner, that’s all through our own doing. If we believe we live in a horrible world, we inadvertently create bad situations for horrible things to happen to us. Likewise it is true for the wonderful things that happen to us. When we reduce ourselves to the core of who we are; working through our worthiness, our shame, our victimization, positivity, gratefulness and taking responsibility for the things that happen in our lives will propel us to living the life we truly deserve. Focus on where you want to be, not complaining about what you can’t stand. With practice, you will be able to get the success you want for yourself.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
The only one thing I would have liked to have cultivated earlier is self-love. Going within and soul searching with self-love is the greatest gift one can give to themselves. I wished I learnt earlier that happiness was always something from inside you and not something you could get from someone else. When you know who you are and what you stand for, you can create the best business model, sell the greatest product or services and still stay true to yourself.
How do you unwind?
I relax with a glass of red wine and I read. I always believe everyone could do with a little more learning and books are just one of the many ways to achieve that. Travelling is also my thing and I absolutely relish short trips away so I can tune-in and refocus on what I want in my life. With the businesses, my son, family and activities, it easy to get caught up and lose yourself along the way.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I can pretty much relax anywhere when I’m on holiday. Give me a hotel room and I’m relaxed, so I don’t have a favourite place. But must-see places in Asia would be India, Bhutan, Indonesia (Bali), and Thailand. All those countries are so diverse in climate, culture, activities and cuisine, so one is sure to feel the presence of the Divine when immersed in those spectacular places! Seeing the world is one of the ways to be touched by inspiration and joy. I highly recommend everyone to take a trip every few months to experience the gifts the world has to offer.
Everyone in business should read this book:
My reading list is very vast and varied and focuses mostly on the human condition and life mastery, but if I were to pick one I’d suggest, “Your Body Speaks Your Mind” by Dep Shapiro. Not everyone, but many people in business get overwrought in achieving their idea of work success. They take themselves and their work so seriously that they lose touch with themselves and their intuition. They start to get trapped by their work and forget how to listen to what their emotions and body try to tell them.
This book looks at the physical afflictions/ailments one may exhibit and leads them back to the emotions that could have caused them. If you can find the root cause of your disease, you can heal it before it’s too late. Just a year ago a friend, who had many highly successful businesses, died suddenly of a heart attack at forty-six. If he had stopped pushing himself so hard and maybe focussed on the things that truly made him happy, he would maybe still be here with us today.
Shameless plug for your business:
If you have got cute kids, think you’re a debonair gentleman or liken yourself to be the best-looking mama in town, we want to represent you! On the flipside if you need fresh, professional and fun people to work with on your next marketing plan, we’re just the people for you!
@mintsingapore for Instagram and Twitter.
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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