Crafting is Shirley Khoong’s creative outlet, which allows her an escape from daily life.
What’s your story?
I am a self taught miniature food designer. Currently I have my own product line of food jewelry – The Miniature Kitchen where I design and produce cute, small food jewelry made of polymer clay. I also conduct workshops on miniature food art. I have found lots of joy and laughter through crafting. It is a creative outlet for me to express myself and ultimately find peace among a hectic city life. Crafting brought me through a journey of self discovery. The process of crafting is very therapeutic because I need to focus 3 to 5 hours of my time 100% on making them. It helps to clear all the clutter in my mind. I discovered that I can actually do a lot more than what I think. It helps to push me further because miniature clay making requires a lot of trial and error to reach the final end product. It also enables me to become more resourceful in my life and being able to see things from different perspectives.
Before starting my business I was struggling with a low satisfaction office job and also ran into debts with banks. It was that period of darkness that pushed me forward to step out into the entrepreneurial world to do something to pick myself up and turn my life around. Now I want to share my journey of self discovery with others to encourage them to step out to realise their dreams.
My mission is to help working executives go on their own journey of self discovery by sharing the art of slow living. I have since quit my corporate job in April 2017 to focus entirely on this mission.
What excites you most about your industry?
It is ever changing, crafting is very free flow. It is only limited by your own imagination. Through this journey, it has taught me to be more resourceful, more patient and more peaceful.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I grew up in Singapore.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I source most of my materials from Japan because they have the best quality, and new items come out every quarter.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
If you want something to change, you have to change first. My business mentor, Genecia always tells me nothing is perfect, just do it now. The more you keep thinking about it things never get done. Now, whenever I am faced with difficult decisions, I remind myself the same.
Who inspires you?
Rather than who, I am most inspired by food. It is the core of my work and life. I seek out delicious looking desserts all the time and always keep myself updated with the various food blogs on social media. My favourites are matcha desserts from Japan.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Recently I read this book by Tim Ferris , The 4 hour Work Week. It was a big eye opener for me. I didn’t know a 4 hour work week could be possible. There are a lot of actionable strategies shared in the book that I could apply immediately to enjoy the benefits of a shortened work week. In particular, doing the unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic, rather than asking yourself what are your goals, you should be asking what excites you?
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Back in my corporate days I would follow the standard route of working my way up despite it being different from my dreams. So if I had my time again, I would totally change it and just go for it right from the start.
How do you unwind?
I rewind rather than unwind. My creative lifestyle is rather different, it has given me a lot of opportunities to be in my zen mode. So I rewind after major projects /workshops by giving myself time off away from doing any creative work. I then indulge in other activities like shopping, eating desserts and studying language.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand because I love massages.
Everyone in business should read this book:
The 4 hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, it has a whole lot of actionable strategies that will blow you away.
Shameless plug for your business:
Come join me for a journey of discovery in the miniature world where you cook tiny food you can’t eat. 100% satisfaction guaranteed with lots of giggles and a free flow of zero calorie dessert toppings.
How can people connect with you?
On facebook @shirleyskhoong and instagram @_sassyshirley
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.