MIKE & EUGENE

Product Design

Onwelo

https://onlewo.com/

Otters and kuehs, HDB façade patterns and Peranakan tiles. These are just some of the unique and endearing characters of an ongoing local story, weaved together by Onlewo, or 安乐窝 (an le wo in Mandarin), which translates into ‘a peaceful nest’. Onlewo is a wallpaper and textile design company created in 2016. Sharing our local Singapore stories to the great big world beyond, through brands such as Patek Philippe, Bulgari & New York Botanical Garden, among some. It has also represented this sunny island at London 100% Design, Indigo Brussels, Singapore Design Now in New York and Singapore Inside Out (in Tokyo).
  • Company Name

    Onlewo Pte Ltd

  • Company Founded in

    2017

  • Name of Founders

    Mike Tay & Eugene Yip

  • Founders' Birthyear

    1971

  • Education (Mike)

    Bachelor, Media, Edith Cowan University, Australia (1995)

  • Education (Eugene)

    Bachelor Business, Nanyang Technological University, 1995

  • Education (Eugene)

    Master, Dux International Business, Melbourne University, Australia (2000)

  • Previous Job (Mike)

    MediaCorp (1998-2014)

  • Previous Job (Mike)

    Photographer (1996-1997)

  • Previous Job (Eugene)

    Eugene Yip Design (Now merged into Onlewo, 2007-Present)

  • Previous Job (Eugene)

    Hyperads Pte Ltd (2002-2006)

  • Previous Job (Eugene)

    ACCS Ltd (1997-2001)

  • 1st Office

    129 Jalan Besar (2012)

  • Team Size

    2

  • 2nd Office

    5000L Marine Parade Road (2017)

  • Team Size

    2

  • 2007

    Eugene founded Eugene Yip Design

  • 2014

    Exhibited at London 100% Design

  • 2015

    Mike & Eugene founded Onlewo

  • 2016

    Launched Collection at Singapasar

  • 2017

    Participated in Singapore Inside Out (Tokyo)

  • 2017

    Showcased at Singaplural

  • 2017

    Collaboration with Lingwu on Evening Clutch Bags

  • 2017

    Collaboration with Soon Lee, The Dancing Kueh Collection

  • 2017

    Collaboration with Lester Design, Lestari's Rattan Chair

  • 2017

    Featured in Monocle City Guide

  • 2018

    Participated in International Furniture Fair Singapore

  • 2019

    Showcased at Annual Orchid Show at New York Botanic Garden Shop

  • 2019

    Showcased at 30th Anniversary ASEAN-Republic of Korea

  • 2020

    Showcased at ASEAN Culture House: ASEAN-Korea Craft Market

  • 2020

    Participated in HK-SG Travel Bubble

  • 2021

    Participated in STB-CU Singapore-Inspired Food

  • 2021

    Showcased at Singapore Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai

  • 2020

    Collaboration with Grafunkt, Limited Edition Stool and Ottoman

Stories Worth Telling

By Chris Low, 30 April 2022

A big welcome from Studio SML to Mike Tay and Eugene Yip of Onlewo or otherwise known as '安乐窝' (an le wo in Mandarin). Thank you so much for joining us today in our conversation. I'm going to jump right into the start of 2016. This is when Onlewo began. I actually am very interested to know was it something that took a lot of courage for you to start a design practice in such a niche field like textile and wallpaper design?

Mike Tay A good question and a difficult one, to some extent. Actually, the whole thing is pretty organic. It wasn't like how and what is the next step and which is the easier way to go around it. The whole thing just came along the way because of my background and for both of us, our design background is actually very much self-taught.

We were trained in marketing and finance, so the design feel for particularly what we have created for Onlewo is really from scratch. It is pretty much about that desire to celebrate, to capture that precious time when we were living in Tiong Bahru. And so then, you know, it just organically happened. I quit my work in a media company. I was there in sales and marketing and with the free time, took up a camera, went around taking photographs, came back, and with free time again, I started to play with the images, plus I knew a bit of Photoshop. And then somehow the patterns started to form and then we received feedback from friends that it's interesting. And I kind of enjoyed the process. So then the motivation was to look at how could this be a second career for myself?

Eugene is always very supportive in terms of what I like to do and how we should live our life. So then I was just telling him that it would be nice if I can turn these images into something that, apart from being screensaver, it could actually lead to some kind of business opportunity. And hence we started exploring the different ways of turning these patterns into products. And then through research, we found out about digital printing which at that time, it was still pretty new. Then the next question is: "Okay, so we have found this, how should we apply it and on what kind of products would I love to see them on?"

I think of the patterns that were created, I would like to see them on walls. Wallpaper would be nice, so how about wallpaper? It's very intuitive and just very natural that we started to say okay, digital printing on wallpaper. Let's start looking for possible printers that can help us turn them into reality. And that's how it all started. So I wouldn't say that we have a very have firm direction. It's pretty much following your intuition and relying on great skillsets, researching and pairing with companies who are willing to collaborate and keen to support a new studio, to test out new patterns and maybe create new opportunities for them as well; because at that time, indeed, digital printing for paper was still quite new to a lot of companies. But then in terms of printers and materials, I think they are there. Everything has to be just going on the route of trying and following what you love, using that as a guide to the next step.

So I wouldn't say that we have a very have firm direction. It's pretty much following your intuition and relying on great skillsets, researching and pairing with companies who are willing to collaborate and keen to support a new studio, to test out new patterns and maybe create new opportunities for them as well.

Okay, so you mentioned pairing yourselves and your patterns with companies. And if I look at the partnerships that you have had so far, they are really very impressive, you know. When you partner international brands like Patek Philippe, Bulgari and these really global brands and your work is telling very, very local stories, what are the challenges you face? In trying to explain to them what a 'kueh' is for example, you know? How does this pairing work, and what are the challenges you face in sharing your ideas with them?

Mike Tay I think that to a certain extent, when we create the patterns, the stories come first. People are attracted to how you discover things in your life and how you can turn them into patterns to connect with more people. I think it's the process of that love and the passion in what you do that draws people first of all, to be curious about what we do.

And then the next step is actually these international brands. They themselves, the team, they are also based in Singapore. Some of them are locals, and hence they are also familiar with our local stories and narratives. So that's how they get connected and they find us. And the next step is actually the joy of what we do, working with these international brands is that they open up more opportunities for us to discover things that we have not been able to, or have the chance to try out.

So for Patek Philippe, for example, they wanted us to create a mahjong set that is customised from scratch. From the chest that carries the mahjong set, to the tiles, to the patterns on it and then the colours and what fabrics to pair for the chest, as well as how we scale up and scale down the patterns and create a contrast visually and at the same time meeting their campaign, or their brand personality using patterns to represent the different markets where Patek Philippe's has customers. it's always very interesting how possibilities open up and tests our capabilities beyond just a surface print designer. That we are able to create a product as well. Like the chest that is designed by Eugene.

Eugene Yip I think when these brands approach us, they are also trying to add a local or rather Asian flavour to the items they want us to design. So like for Bulgari, we, or rather Mike, created a pattern that incorporated our Singapore design with jewellery from some series of Bulgari's jewellery series and came up with a pattern that had a strong Peranakan flavour but with very distinctive Bulgari jewellery elements. So that planning of the story becomes something that's fun and unique with every partner we work with.

People are attracted to how you discover things in your life and how you can turn them into patterns to connect with more people. I think it's the process of that love and the passion in what you do that draws people first of all, to be curious about what we do.

Right. Also, when we look at wallpaper, that same print, when you need to scale down, are there some patterns where you feel that a lot of the story will be lost because of the intricacy of the drawing. "By the time I scale it down I will miss these kind of little information." And so when you go through this process from a wallpaper print that you already have and if you need to scale down, what are some of the considerations that you will need? And do you then find that: "Oh no, actually we'll do a fresh print for a particular job", for example.

Mike Tay Oh, yeah, because the SKU's (stock keeping unit) that we have under our brand, the size of the product, really varies from the smallest; which is more like our prismatic glass sculpture, which is like a table decorator, and fabric coasters to the larger items like wallpaper. So that is really fun because it makes my work less boring in that sense because from one pattern to one product to the other, I can decide how best I can fit into it. For certain elements, I might choose to leave out so as to keep the message and narrative intact.

The other way is looking at how certain details fit, because when it's printed on fabric, the texture of the fabric - velvet, cotton, linen - they're all different. With certain very detailed lines, I can see that at that scale it is actually not necessary, it will then be removed and be replaced with something else or I will completely remove it to have a cleaner look. I think the end goal is that the pattern itself can reveal a lot of details. But what I'm trying to achieve is a sense of balance, the balance and clarity in the design. It has to be always consistent, because that's how I'm drawn to the end visual that I want to create. There's always a sense of clarity and balance in the end result regardless of what size it is, and this can be achieved through tweaking, reducing, adding, etc, when we adapt from one product to the other.

Eugene Yip Mike tends to be quite a lot less literal in terms of its design work. So when we tell a story, not every bit of the story element needs to be expressed. I think sometimes he thinks in terms of the big picture, the vibe, the feel of the design, like he says balance and proportion, colour play; so even in a very small item, a story can still be conveyed and expressed, in a different way compared to a bigger surface.

There's always a sense of clarity and balance in the end result regardless of what size it is, and this can be achieved through tweaking, reducing, adding, etc, when we adapt from one product to the other.

Also when I look at the projects you have worked with, with the government agencies, you have almost become like a spokesperson, you know. A 'spokes brand' for I think, nearly every agency in our statutory boards, you have a hand in it. From Ministry of Trade and Industry, URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority) , EDB (Economic and Development Board), STB (Singapore Tourism Board), National Heritage Board. You guys are everywhere!

What is the challenge then, when you are working with our own government agencies that is now part of the Singapore background? Do they have quite a different kind of expectation as compared to the international brands?

Eugene Yip When we work with the ministries, the statutory boards, I think what they hope to present - when they bring the products or gifts to guests or acquaintances overseas - is to present Singapore in a friendly, very relatable way. So I think for them, they have evolved from being very static, standard, display, very formal kind of corporate gifts, to something that's very relatable, and very authentically Singapore.

With the ministries and statutory boards, they tend to appreciate the designs that we already have, and they usually select from those, to suit what's appropriate for the occasion. Whereas for the international brands, they prefer to localise the design expression to suit their customers or target audience in Singapore or in this region.

With the ministries and statutory boards, they tend to appreciate the designs that we already have, and they usually select from those, to suit what's appropriate for the occasion. Whereas for the international brands, they prefer to localise the design expression to suit their customers or target audience in Singapore or in this region.

I think what is also of great interest to me in particular, really, is after so many designs, when we look around, how do you continue to be able to discover another new patterns, another new familiar scene you know. This whole process?

Because we are all looking at the same thing actually right? We are looking at the HDB the same as you but your eyes are different. After this period, does it become more and more challenging? Or are you even now more quick to be able to say: "Hey, I see something here, I see something there."?

Mike Tay I hope that when I create patterns, I'm not doing it because I think that this pattern will be able to draw more support from our customers; or creating patterns for the sake of filling that gap in the market or to be able to sell more, that is not what I hope for. I prefer to create from the fact that I am personally inspired, and when I have a personal connection in it. And if I find that story worth telling.

For me, that process is important. Because in that way, then whatever that is created, it comes easier and it's also more authentic in a way because then you feel that it's right, through the process and as well as the message that we're going to craft later on to support this experience. So, finding inspiration for new patterns, it is pretty much gathered from how I spend my day. As someone that is just living, doing what he needs to do in a day and that includes my morning walks.

My morning walks are a very important part of my routine. Because that's when I'm alone. I shut down noises mentally and I get connected to the present and I get to see things that really move me. The most recent pattern I created is actually called "Have you heard the birds singing?" Because I've been doing my morning walks around the Siglap area - there's a lot of trees, sunrise and breeze and lots of birds. And these are things that I hope will continue to motivate and inspire me to create designs.

My morning walks for me is a very important part of my routine. Because that's when I'm alone. I shut down noises mentally and I get connected to the present and I get to see things that really move me.

I can see that what started in 2016 as a print design, the company and the brand has really evolved. You have moved into areas of interior design, product design. So is this also quite organic or is it a response to the market that we are in and especially when COVID struck in 2020 you know, and then we all became home based. And now you are operating from your home as a home office. So this change and shift., can you talk a little bit more and share with us about it?

Eugene Yip The way we started has been very organic, as we didn’t plan to become, like in Mike's case a surface print designer or in my case, interior design. It just happened at that at different stages of our lives, we encounter certain experiences that drew us to that practice, or made us fall in love with the area of design. So along the way, the business started.

A lot of new products we introduced came around because customers told us: "Hey, you can do this? Hey why don't you try that?" And they share with us their ideas or even sometimes help us connect with relevant parties. And that's how from fabric based products like cushion cover, or initially wallpaper, the product range has grown. And a lot of it came around because of this community of customers who feel connected to our designs and they are very passionate about seeing those designs expressed in different ways. And that serves as a motivation for us to keep exploring what kind of production techniques can be used, and what kind of new technology can we buy. So it has been very organic that way. We didn't plan: 'okay by next year we're going to have three new product range or by next quarter this is going to happen'. We hardly operate that way.

Mike Tay Having said that, I think that's a very good question because it actually is also a reason why things turn out this way. When we bought our first apartment in Tiong Bahru, at that time, we needed someone to help us with doing the layout for our place. And Eugene had all the time to work with the contractors to develop that walk-up unit in Tiong Bahru, and through the process, he found it very enjoyable and he discovered a new chapter that he could develop, because all our friends who came and visited our new place, they all commented that the flow of space is so good. And the space saving part of it is also very good and they were interested to hire Eugene to do up their place.

And hence we thought that since that is such an enjoyable experience and Eugene didn’t seem to enjoy his finance chapter; and we love doing up our home and we also love properties, this is a chance for us to discover how we can design other interiors, and redo the spaces for other homes. Our Kai Fook Mansion unit was featured in New York Times and hence from aligning our lives with our passion: what we love, how we love to live, and live well; to how the space can influence and affect how we live, and taking control of that part to improve how we live.

I think these are all the dots that we are connecting together in our lives. Hence from there, once the interior space is done up, how do we furnish the interior space, what colours, what sort of texture and patterns and that led to beginning of Onlewo. So I think these are the little dots that started to appear at the time when we moved into Tiong Bahru. And it aligns with our personality. We are quite introverted in the sense that we are pretty much very happy with you know, just exploring.

The way we started has been very organic, as we didn’t plan to become, like in Mike's case a surface print designer or in my case, interior design. It just happened during at different stages of our lives, we encounter certain experiences that drew us to that practice, or made us fall in love with the area of design.

So you mentioned that because both of you are in a way, quite introverted, is that also one of the reasons why you have kept your staff size to just only the two of yo

Eugene Yip Now that you ask that question it seems to be quite possibly so. I guess we are seldom in the frame of mind to grow the business for the sake of growing the business because we cherish our pace of life, the way we live now. And we always think that if we find someone who can fit in with the way we view life, the way we view business and join the team to support our growth, then let's do it.

But if we can't find someone with that right personality or that mindset, then let's just wait. So we do, of course, wish to have more hands on the deck, because we have been really, really stretched. But still, we believe that fate will bring that person to us and at the right time. Then we will be able to grow the team in a very harmonious way.

Mike Tay We still go back to the word – very organic, very natural. I mean, if it happens then it's a sign to say that we are ready to move to the next stage. But of course, having said that, it is not totally true as well to say that Onlewo is just the two of us. In the sense that we do work with other companies, whether it's wallpaper installers, printers, it’s just that we don't own their business. We work together in a way which allows others to collaborate with us, especially in the areas where we're not good at; we don't want to take over their role so that we can keep our team lean.

It gives us that flexibility to stay open to new opportunities, and be able to try when something worth pursuing comes about. We don't want to get tied down. But at the same time, we have so many business partners and the special thing is that they are based in Singapore, so we're able to work with them. That really gives us the space and the flexibility. And of course I think one of the biggest motivation to keep us continuing to do what we do and to do it well is that we have that mental and physical space that we need. We don’t want our life to be totally just eaten up by what we do. We want that balance and that space. But at the same time we enjoy working with other people through business partners that we've worked with together.

Eugene Yip Recently for a few projects late last year and early this year, we worked with Heysprouts which is a social enterprise that engages and finds employment opportunities for kids with special needs. So during our so called peak season, we participated in their programme to have their team take over some business function. And so that's the way we cope with seasonal peaks. And I think that it's meaningful and keeps us flexible as well.

Mike Tay I mean that is so wonderful that Eugene found them because thankfully, it was just impossible for us to do the packing and all the assembling of the product. It was just so much that it’s totally impossible. And yeah, it's so meaningful because then we are supporting them for a social cause.

Eugene Yip So I think outsourcing plays a big role in the business function. In different times we find different partners to help us meet the demands of that season.

Because I think that is what a lot of small businesses face. You know, there is this chicken and egg situation, right? How much do you outsource because when you outsource, the cost gets higher, and at the same time how much can you prepare yourselves as a firm for "in case we get a big one, in case we have a manpower crunch"? I think that is something that small firms always struggle with or sometimes they find they are not competitive, because 'oh we just cannot take on any more already, we are kind of full', and you have to let certain things pass you by right?

I know we have spoken about it already, which it's all very organic. So I don't know if I can still ask this question: What happens now, in the next five years, like what or maybe it's not so much a plan that you have, but are there areas or products that you have an eye on and you say: "Oh, that would be interesting if someone came to us and ask us to try that". For example, let's say fitting up an interior of a Porsche or something with your fabrics, you know. Are there projects that you feel that those are things that we would like to participate in?

Mike Tay laughter. Right now in the pipeline, it's not confirmed, but right now we are working with an international luxury jewellery brand. It's to help them with furbishing their international stores, in terms of furnishing, from the walls to the furniture. And so that is something that may happen in the pipeline.

And of course my wish is that we can remain as a small design studio, but to be able to cater to the demands of international brands and work with them in an interesting way. The other part that we are looking at is expansion outside of Singapore. We have been pretty much busy with our own home turf, Singapore market, but I think that in terms of what we do, there is a huge potential to actually go out of Singapore, such as participating in furniture fairs. But looking at what we are strong at, which is more like upholstery fabrics, wallpapers and smaller collection of furniture which Eugene has created, some interesting, elegant, timeless pieces of furniture that we are actually using right now at home.

I think that is a very good promising start because it's always good that you make something for yourself first. You test it out, over time, every day when you look at it you pull it, you use it. You know whether that is something that you will you can keep for a long time. So we think that that is potentially the other part that we could grow. Eugene do you have anything to add?

Eugene Yip I think we always have 20 to 30 things we want to do at the back of the mind but there's always that tension between there is only so much time we have every day and time devoted to exploring those new ideas, new products. So yeah, I mean, we don't have a timeframe for rolling out specific products. As soon as that inspiration comes, the right production partner comes along then it happens.

And if you are talking about next five years from a very lifestyle point of view, I mean for me, I would like to start a shop in Tokyo maybe because it's just an excuse to live there. We are opening a shop in September in Joo Chiat. So it's going back to a kind of physical space where we can meet customers and Japanese customers is the largest group of customers or expat customers we have in Singapore. The connection with Japanese customers has always been there since day one. So we love Tokyo, we love going to Japan; and the French as well. Yeah, so for me if we have the bandwidth to have a physical shop in Japan, whether Kyoto or Tokyo, it'd be wonderful.

My wish is that we can remain as a small design studio, but to be able to cater to the demands of international brands and work with them in an interesting way.

Actually, it’s interesting because as you are talking, I'm thinking that, you know, the strength is really in telling stories about Singapore that you are so close to. So have you been approached, say: "Yes, please come to Japan and tell our story." Do you think that will be something that actually is not quite easy, to just use the talent and then say now, I have to tell somebody else's story. Is it possible to transfer that?

Eugene Yip I think of course, we would love trying that. But eventually, I guess, you know, when we design patterns inspired by Singapore stories, they are a lot of nuances that someone who didn't live here will not be able to express or know in advance and then design into the product. So if we ever go to Japan and try to do some Japanese design, I would say that we will be doing that with inspiration from their culture and create a kind of adapted design rather than, I wouldn't say that we'll be able to tell their story. It’s going to be very difficult and maybe possible to do that because really the cultural nuances and the depth of the history of that country, we will be able to understand it only to some extent. But what we can do is through our techniques of colour play, of pattern arrangement, we can contribute to some interesting dimension of their design expression.

Mike Tay I think in terms of pattern creation, at the same time what Eugene mentioned, yes, it’s also correct to some extent. However, in terms of pattern creations. There are areas and different ways of doing it. At the same time, it also depends on who we are communicating with. And in every city, there are landmarks that are unique. Things that you know - one look and you know that that is very Kyoto. One look and you know that this one is very much of another city.

Eugene Yip We can contribute a fresh design angle to the scene there I think. We can kind of help express certain stories story in a very Singapore way.

Mike Tay Yeah, at one point when we were in Bali for holiday and after that we suddenly had this crazy idea that hey, why not we, first of all, just get a studio up there first and then, you know, maybe I will work there three months and then he will swap, because we have two dogs at home. Because we have suppliers from Indonesia that we work with and so we can contacted them. We met up, they flew down to Bali, spent a few days there. Because he was keen too, he loves what we do and he was keen to, maybe start a business there.

For our studio, what we do is not just patterns stories. We actually have the experience of creating a pattern, evaluating, developing the product, creating the packaging, and then marketing it out. So we actually cover that entire process. So it means that whichever city that we could go to, pretty soon we are able to get the whole thing up. So that formula is very portable, in that sense. So we almost went to Bali! It's so near you know, it's just 2 hours away.

Eugene Yip laughter. So our expansion plan is very much based on where we would like to have holidays.

Mike Tay I think that's the best kind of motivation. Don't think about making money but think about what you love, what you like, and then turn that into reality and do it well. And then money comes along. I think that's the best way to cut things.

Don't think about making money but think about what you love, what you like, and then turn that into reality and do it well. And then money comes along.

That seems to be really the perfect picture for everyone, for every designer, isn't it? Where we can really first and foremost, just talk about our work first and the joy that comes from it. You know, if only we could put the dollar sign a little bit behind. Good enough to survive, but we can be happy with our designs first, right?

So that actually then brings me to the closing question which is: what is something that you would advise young designers, aspiring entrepreneurs who want to venture into the design market in specific. What are some things that you think they can avoid, some mistakes that they can avoid, when they want to start?

Mike Tay Some mistakes that they can avoid? I think first of all, don't be too anxious to start something. Give yourself some time. Give your job/person your own spiritual part of it, your emotion, your wellbeing. I think that is also very important. Whatever we do, I always take that emotional part of it as equally important. And I think once we feel that balance spiritually, in terms of emotions; how we are, where we are, that gives us a lot of strength to take the next leap. And because the emotional wellbeing allows you to have clarity in your mind. It gives you that sense of peace and I always need a lot of that in me to find that energy. Then from there I have lesser fear, I have lesser overthinking that clouds my mind. I need to have that clarity. And then with that clarity, I can find my voice. I don't know. I mean, that's how I work. And from there I can find joy in how I spend my day. And that joy is spread into how I look at things that is on Instagram. There are 1001 things that is nice but which is the one that really speaks to you emotionally?

I think that an important pillar in life you need is to have that stability. And once you have that, you can find that voice, you connect and you're able to see things clearer. And once you see things clearer, you can make a better decision. And so that is more like the emotional part of it that is channelling the right positive energy. The second part of it is to find that one thing that matters to you. Rather than looking at what people are doing and how they're doing it, or how I should do what they're doing, then you lose your own footing because you are following someone's footsteps. I would say that, you know, go back to yourself, your own journey, and then you can find that most authentic voice and the motivation to kick start something. Because once you start to become somebody, when there's setbacks, when there's challenges, you kind of lose yourself quite quickly. But in the end, if you're doing something for yourself, even if the output is not as what you have expected to be, as successful as it is, but in the end you can still have the satisfaction that you're doing something for yourself.

And that is very gratifying. Once you have that gratification, you find that sense of peace, the strength and the things that you create will be stronger, will be more beautiful and people can see it. You don't have to try too hard. People can feel it and they will come to you. And so, it is important to have no fear, less fear and a clearer way of doing things.

Whatever we do, I always take that emotional part of it as equally important. And I think once we feel that balance spiritually, in terms of emotions; how we are, where we are, that gives us a lot of strength to take the next leap.

Very, very good and sound advice for young people who can be over anxious to start something and just jump into it.

Mike Tay Yeah... One important thing is find something that is scalable. Don't do something that you need to handmade something, piece by piece. Unless you find that as your calling, and that is the kind of time that you enjoy spending to make things one piece at a time. It takes a week to make that one piece and then you sell that one piece to somebody, because that is what matters to you; hence it depends on the lifestyle, who you are, if you choose to do that.

Hence, it goes very much back to yourself - what you want and who you are, and finding the track that suits you. So for us, we think that it's still two of us, but we make things that is scalable, so that it can travel further. That's also one thing and the other thing is that to start small, find something that you don't need to commit to MOQ (minimum order quantity) of 500 to 1000 because that adds a lot of stress and emotionally it's very draining, as well physically, because you need to store them, you need to take care of them before they are gone off the shelf. And also financially you're committed to a huge sum; that creates a stress, that fear.

And that fear will drive you to make mistakes because you may be thinking that oh no, I need to all clear all these or otherwise... there is some kind of expiry date. And then that pushes you to settle for discounts and all that, then from there, it will be a disaster. Because once you start going down that price route, people have the impression that your product doesn't deserve that selling price that you intended to begin with. The kind of trust that you're building with your customers is very important in building your business as well.

Eugene Yip Mike is very inward, I mean, he is very introspective in his journey. I think with me too. I look at all of us being on this pathway to discover beauty and to express beauty. But recently I realised the Chinese saying: 真,善, 美,(zhen, shan, mei) - which translates as being authentic, being kind, being beautiful. Actually to be beautiful or to create something of beauty you need to be kind first. You need to be kind to yourself. You need to be kind to the world. And to be really kind to yourself or really kind to others, to the world. You need to be authentic.

So I think Mike's approach has always been to look within himself, what inspires him, what brings him joy, what he finds fulfilling and then from that he starts on the creative process. I realised recently this Chinese saying is so real. I mean we can fake beauty one time, we can fake beauty two times, we can fake beauty three times, but we can't fake beauty all our lives if we are not authentic and if we are not kind. So for young designers, my advice is the same as Mike's but probably presented differently.

Look within yourself and find out who you are as a person. Listen to your heart when your heart is quiet. Because all of us are unique. All our perspective of beauty is also unique. We see things differently, but it is precisely that we see things differently, that what we express or produce will be precious, will be unique. So try to stay away from noises. There's a lot of things going on in the industry, like fashion industry has always so much going on. So it's very difficult not to be swept into that trend, that noise and forget who we are as a person. So Mike put it succinctly that, yes, it starts from a quiet self and see where that leads us.

Look within yourself and find out who you are as a person. Listen to your heart when your heart is quiet. Because all of us are unique. All our perspective of beauty is also unique.

Thank you so much. I think it comes with a lot of experience, the journey that you have been through and it helps us to know how to set our frame of mind if we are going on that same journey as well. Thank you very much.

Mike Tay Thank you so much.

Eugene Yip Thank you Chris. Thanks for having us.

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