Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Work & Entrepreneurship Series: A Pair of Enterprising Daughter and Mom

The following article was first written for and published on the website Mums@Work. It's reprinted here with permission.

Crafting a Business Out of a Hobby                                                   

From keeping her restless toddler meaningfully occupied, to weekly craft sessions for friends’ children, Adora Tan soon found herself turning an interest for developing craft activities for children into a business. Her entrepreneurial spirit has also rubbed off on her mother Fiona, who recently set up a members-only spa-booking business.

After giving birth to her daughter Poppy, Adora was a stay-home mum for about 17 months while doing freelance writing. She returned to working full-time as an assistant marketing manager but eight months later, the dedicated mum decided to stay home for good. That was when she began conducting regular craft sessions for her daughter and friends’ children.

“I really love researching on crafts and using them to reinforce certain messages to my daughter. For example, after reading books about fish, we would do a fish craft,” the 32-year-old shares. “After about a year, with some encouragement from my supportive husband, I realised that I could turn my hobby into a business.”

She officially launched her business, Buggy Bee Kids in January this year.

One unique point about her business is the use of recycled materials and items that can be easily obtained at home or from the environment in her craft sessions to inculcate the value of recycling in children and encourage them to explore their surroundings and develop an inquisitive mind.

Balancing work and family

A first-time entrepreneur, Adora mainly conducts classes when her daughter is in playschool.

“I hardly ever do work when my daughter is around. All my paperwork is done at night. It would be really ironic if I were to say "Wait, mummy needs to do some work" when I made this change to spend more time with her,” she points out.

“My family always comes first. We're lucky because my husband also has a job with a flexible schedule so we get to spend lots of time together as a family on weekdays too,” she adds.

As corporate sessions are usually held during weekends, she makes it a point to discuss it with her husband to be sure he is alright with taking care of their daughter. She would be at the session to ensure that everything kicks off well, and then leave the running to her trustworthy team.

Adora notes that having a team is necessary as her business grows. Currently, the team comprises friends, family members, or friends of either group, and they are mums or those who work with kids, such as childcare teachers. She would screen them carefully before having them onboard, as it is critical to ensuring the service is kept to a high standard.

Business development

In growing her business, word of mouth is key.

“I tell all my friends, especially those with kids. I have a Facebook page set up for Buggy Bee Kids and keep it updated. I also post ads on whatever free notice boards there are around, always pointing to my website.”

She also believes one should not be afraid to ask for help. For instance, when her business became official, she told her friends through Facebook and people she has not met for years helped spread the word along.

It also helped that she is an outgoing person and loves talking about things she’s passionate about – even if it is with people she meets for the first time.

“There were occasions where I left a craft session, said “hi” to a stranger in the lift and ended up returning to conduct sessions for her kids!”

Her marketing efforts paid off when within two months of being in business, she secured a six-month corporate contract.

Mum catches the entrepreneurial bug

Adora’s entrepreneurial fervour has also rubbed off on her mum Fiona, who founded Blue Moon Valley, a company that offers members-only spa-booking service in April this year.

Sharing on what motivated her to start the business, Fiona reveals, “I had bad experiences with a few spas where they pressured me into signing up for many things I didn’t even need.” Subsequently, she signed up with True Spa, got transferred to Subtle Senses, and then lost her money when it closed down.

She felt something was very wrong with the business model of pre-paid long-term contracts and believed consumers should not be manipulated into signing contracts.

Determined to put things right, she came up with what she thought was a win-win solution: establishing a members-only spa-booking programme where members can book services with a select group of spas.  “Consumers will then have the freedom of choice and get to enjoy the flexibility and mobility to move among the spas in the programme,” she highlights.

Running their own business has also helped mother and daughter develop a stronger bond.

“It’s great that she’s also running a business; we support each other and understand each other’s challenges,” say Adora.

“Yes, we share our experiences and ideas, and help each other out,” quips Fiona.

Future plans

Adora is enjoying every bit of what she does, and her only regret is in not having done it earlier.

“I love what I do. I love seeing the accomplishment on a child's face when he completes a craft. I love having the flexibility to work at my own pace and take on a comfortable work load and still be able to spend quality time with my daughter,” she enthuses. “Not having a boss feels really good too,” she adds with a laugh.

Going forward, she hopes to partner other like-minded mums and reach out to more kids. “I try not to reject anyone because of location. But sometimes the commuting really wears me out. If I have other mums who living all around the island, that would be great.”

Advice for Aspiring Mumpreneurs:

1. Be disciplined. Schedule your work time and family time and stick to them. Don't mix them because you probably end up getting lesser things done and feel less satisfied as well.

2. Know your priority. You may love what you do but don't forget you are doing it because of your children, so don't let your business take you away from them.

3. Believe in yourself. If you think you can or cannot do something, you are probably right.
(Think you can't do it because you are a SAHM? Why not? Didn't Stephenie Meyer, writer of the successful twilight series, write her books when she was a SAHM?)

4. Discuss with your spouse. A supportive spouse is very important, especially if your business involves working weekends and evenings. He will definitely be affected in some ways so it is only fair to talk it through with him.

Interested to share some unique bonding time with your little ones? If you are mom with a daughter between the age of 5-10, come sign up for the TWIRLY WHIRLY GIRLY PARTY organised by Buggy Bee Kids! You'll get to make home-made lip balm (how cool is that!) and vintage button mobiles. 

The event will be held on 7 October (Friday) at the double decker bus at *Scape Youth Park. Please email Adora at to register or make an enquiry.

Adora is also a mom blogger who blogs at The Gingerbread Mum. She shares about the many interesting activities that she does with her daughter, Poppy. Whenever I'm lost for ideas of what to do with my toddler, a visit to her blog will give me the much needed inspiration! 

Next week, I'll be featuring Fiona's story in building her spa-booking business. Stay tuned!

Note: If you (or someone you know) have taken a leap of faith to pursue your passion and are now doing something you love, I would very much like to hear your story. Please email me at and share with me your experience!


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