Empowering Women

Be Inspired by These Amazing #GirlBosses

Today is International Women’s Day, and we’d like to feature two women whom we think are strong, courageous and inspiring. They are Xie QianQian, founder of GRAYE – a men’s clothing label and Samantha Tan, the founder of The Local Box – a healthy F&B business. Let’s hear what they say about starting up their own businesses!


Xie QianQian – GRAYE Founder

xie qianqian, graye

What made you decide to start the business?

I was fortunate to determine what I wanted to pursue at the very start. I took fashion design in both diploma and degree studies, and that landed me a stable fashion designer job at a local firm after my graduation. Everything was smooth sailing, but I knew life should be more challenging than this. That’s why I stepped out of my comfort zone and started exploring the life of an entrepreneur.

How did you make your dreams a reality?

I wouldn’t say I have made my dreams a reality; I just trusted my instincts and acted on every little idea. And every little step I took has brought me closer to what I want to achieve.

Did you face any problems along the way?

Being an entrepreneur is really tough. Unlike holding a designer position, running GRAYE required me to evolve from handling just design work to handling all aspects of a business, from designing, to marketing, to logistics etc.

It was much harder than what I have imagined it would be in the first place. Being a small brand, we ran into many difficulties. Production being the most prominent – we have visited and have been rejected by many factories before. Decisions after decisions; even an Instagram post can take up quite a bit of time, as branding is extremely important.

However, seeing GRAYE grow from the start to what it is now, has been a huge satisfaction for me 😉

Any advice for fellow females when it comes to chasing their dreams?

I always believe in this quote: “Sometimes it’s better to just get things done than get it done perfectly.”

When you are creating something new, you don’t know what perfect looks like until people use it anyway. So go ahead and start it!


Samantha Tan – Founder of The Local Box

samantha tan, the local box

What made you decide to start the business?

I was in the midst of a small career crisis where I wanted to look for a new job. I stumbled upon this shop that was up for rent and it was the perfect opportunity. My sister and I always wanted to venture into F&B and although I often thought of it more as a retirement job being your usual kiasi Singaporeans (find a stable job after graduation, get a stable income, etc.), we just could not give this a miss. The location, rent was everything we wanted and I guess we took the leap of faith!

How did you make your dreams a reality?

I was very lucky that my parents were supportive of our decision and provided us some financial support. We took a bank loan too but we could not borrow much as bank loans are usually based on income. With all the funds pooled together (savings, parent’s loan, bank loan), we were able to pay the deposit for the space and things got moving from there. I was in the kitchen almost every day, coming up with the final food and drink recipes and fine tuning them for mass production. With the spare time I have after work and cooking, I was designing the logo, collaterals, applying for the relevant licenses, etc. We finally opened on 15 September 2017.

Did you face any problems along the way?

I wouldn’t call them problems, more of challenges. Naturally there were a lot of challenges when we first opened especially because I had zero experience managing an F&B business. I have worked in multiple F&B places, from cafes to ice cream shops to coffee places like Teadot but I never fully knew what I was in for until The Local Box happened. It’s just different when you are in charge of both the problems and solutions. Main challenges included consistency of food and drinks which I overcame by putting in SOPs and doing random taste checks. Personally, the biggest challenge was to learn how to manage customers’ opinions and not take things personally. At The Local Box, we always prioritise great customer service, and I made sure my staff were aligned on this as well.

Any advice for fellow females when it comes to chasing their dreams?

Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty if you want to chase your dreams. Don’t belittle yourself and fall into the stereotype that you are just a woman and you do not have the strength needed in the kitchen (or whichever male oriented career), because sometimes, we are even more capable than men. 😉 Even with a full time chef now, I have to take over his duties once in a while, such as when he’s sick. There is no other cook in the kitchen, so I have to mass cook the food myself and prep for the lunch crowd. It’s all part of running your own business. I get a lot of male friends questioning my ability to mass cook, “how do you even lift the pan, it will be so heavy”. But [by] running the kitchen, I have already proved to sweat harder, work harder and learn faster than what we are stereotyped to be.




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