Our Story: Q&A with the Founders of LadyBoss Asia

You've been to our events ... but do you know the women behind them? Read on to learn more!

You might have seen them running around LadyBoss events, or you might have met them networking at a business soiree.

Who are the ladies behind LadyBoss? I spoke to Jackie, Melissa and myself to find out!

Team LadyBoss: Jackie, Melissa & Liyana

Q:  Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey …

JACKIE: I’ve had the entrepreneur bug ever since I was young when I started helping my Dad with his business. I would sit in business meetings, check out goods and even did product pricing! Growing up, I got really interested in technology … I’d make some money from helping people to set up websites, using Notepad and HTML. In my university days, I started an online business on Ebay selling apparel.

I fell in love with digital marketing strategies as I was using that a lot both in my job and my own business. After freelancing for quite some in both website development and digital marketing, I decided to quit my corporate job and become a full time freelancer. Fast forward, now I have a team of developers and marketers at Amber Creative.

LIYANA: My husband (then fiance) and I have always been interested in entrepreneurship, so we quit our jobs, got married, bought an English training franchise, sold most things we had, and moved to Bali! Some people said we were crazy and warned that it would put our marriage under stress. Actually, it made us stronger than ever.

We lived in Bali for 1 and a half years to set up our Bali business and at the same time, we began working on our Singapore corporate training and communications business, Anagram Group – the name ‘Anagram’ is a partial anagram of our names. We began with 1 client, moved back to Singapore when demand was growing …. and in 2 years, expanded to the current 50+ government and corporate clients we currently have.

To be honest, we didn’t know which business would be viable – studies show only 1 out of 3 businesses work out, so we thought, hey let’s give it 2 shots!  I joined Jackie in early 2016 as Co-Founder of LadyBoss, making this my third business venture. I’m having the time of my life.

MELISSA:  The opportunity to take the leap came when my boyfriend, also an entrepreneur himself, ventured into Myanmar to set up an IT company. I quit my marketing job at a luxury brand and moved to Myanmar. So the stars finally aligned, I spotted a gap in the market and that was my first step into becoming an entrepreneur. I learned so much from running an online retail business, in a country where logistics and the internet infrastructure is nowhere comparable to what we enjoy here in Singapore. It was incredibly fun and at times, frustrating. After two years, we returned to Singapore, whilst the companies are still operating in Myanmar. We are currently working together on BiTS, an integrated business system for startups and SMEs. As entrepreneurs, we realised how difficult and costly it is to manage different aspects of businesses such as Marketing, CRM, Accounting, Inventory Management and ecommerce – we hope an affordable platform like BiTS will change that.

My background and interest has always been branding and marketing. Both my parents are entrepreneurs running separate businesses and I’ve managed marketing for them even before I graduated from University. That is how I came about setting up Cr8, a branding and marketing consultancy firm to help other entrepreneurs who have great products but not so effective marketing strategies. It is an avenue to let my creative juices flow, which is crucial for my restless mind. I love working with my clients because the possibilities are endless when brainstorming ideas and executing our campaigns. LadyBoss is my third venture and it won’t be the last!

Growing up, I got really interested in technology … I’d make some money helping people to set up websites, using Notepad and HTML. – Jackie

 

Jackie speaking at our launch event in January 2016
Jackie speaking at our launch event in January 2016

 

panel1
LadyBoss’ May Panel Discussion & Networking Event which attracted over 100 people

 

LadyBoss Panel Discussion at DBS
Attendees at LadyBoss’ May Panel Discussion & Networking Event

Q: Why did you start LadyBoss?

JACKIE: I started LadyBoss as I believe that women would be most empowered if they are able to have a sustainable income and entrepreneurship is a great way to achieve it. It’s a great option for women whether they are single or have a family as they can choose their balance. Many business associations and networks are also male dominated and sometimes women still face unnecessary criticism and prejudice when they want to start out on their own.

However, I believe that women can achieve anything they put their minds to and I believe that society should recognize that and support and LadyBoss can help women who want to do so.

LIYANA: I really liked the vision Jackie had for empowering women through entrepreneurship and leadership, and we already see the impact that we’re making through networking events, articles and more.

Also my fellow Co-Founders are very talented so they’re very dynamic to work with – Jackie is very passionate about women’s issues and technically savvy (she can learn most technical things in a day!).

Melissa is creative, decisive and efficient … she gets things done!

MELISSA: I’ve been a big fan of Sophia Amoruso’s #girlboss movement since it started and love the idea of women taking charge and being in charge. My mum is a woman entrepreneur and at home, she takes care of my sister and I since my dad is always traveling for work. The cause to inspire and empower women resonated with me! To me, it was a chance to be part of something purposeful and to help the community.

Apart from my businesses, I do volunteer at a Myanmar local NGO which aims to empower youths, offering my soft skills of design and digital marketing. It is self-sustainable because of volunteers who work together, across the globe. I am grateful for the people who believed in me and supported me so I try to give back to society.

I’ve been a big fan of Sophia Amoruso’s #girlboss movement since it started and love the idea of women taking charge and being in charge. – Melissa

 

From left to right: Wayne Chan, emcee at LadyBoss’ May event, Jackie, Tasneem Noor, Fika Swedish Cafe & Bistro, Liyana, Melissa, Adeline of Affluence PR, and Jane Hia of Kith Cafe

 

Melissa giving out lucky draw prizes to the winners at our LadyBosss event!
Melissa giving out lucky draw prizes to the winners at our LadyBosss event!

 

LadyBoss Elite Members
LadyBoss Elite Members for our first ever meeting. This group is expanding quickly!

 

Q: What do you bring to the LadyBoss team, and what is your role? 

JACKIE: I am basically the Managing Director of LadyBoss and I am in charge of the overall business, business strategy, finances and more. I am also the technical person on the team and I manage the website and all technological aspects of LadyBoss, including photography and videography.

LIYANA: I have over 10 years of journalism, communications, events, sponsorship and sales experience which makes me very well-suited for being part of the team. As Deputy Editor & Director of Partnerships, I write editorial content, liaise with other contributors, conceptualise the events, and seek interesting collaborations for LadyBoss to help fulfill our objectives.

What do I bring to the team? Lots of ideas, creativity, dynamism and a lot of jokes!

MELISSA: We have to play multiple roles since our team is so lean and three of us have to be able to perform most roles. I would say (unashamedly) that I’ve got an eye for design and aesthetics so I take charge of the creative direction of the marketing collaterals and overall branding for LadyBoss. I manage the social media marketing for LadyBoss too since I’m a social media addict. I’m all about the fun stuff so I’m always sussing out fun companies and coming up with crazy ideas which we can collaborate on, to keep LadyBoss not so serious.

I love how every successful woman we meet has such amazing stories … we will hopefully inspire more women to step out, to believe that they can also be extremely successful. – Jackie

Jackie Speaking at In-Tune
Jackie Speaking on Women Leadership at In-Tune, an event jointly presented by e2i and SeraphCorp Institute

 

Melissa and Jackie with CXA's CEO, Rosaline Koo
Melissa and Jackie with CXA’s CEO, Rosaline Koo

 

Melissa with founders of The Whole Kitchen, a sponsor of LadyBoss' May Event
Melissa with founders of The Whole Kitchen, a sponsor of LadyBoss’ May Event

Q: What is the best part of being involved with LadyBoss?

JACKIE: I love how every successful woman we meet has such amazing stories and there is so much to learn and share with our readers. With all the stories, we will hopefully inspire more women to step out, to believe that they can also be extremely successful.

It’s always great when I meet people who tell me how inspired they are by LadyBoss and how great we are doing!

LIYANA: Having an army of like-minded girlfriends and friends who are all in business! Entrepreneurship can be a very lonely journey. We at LadyBoss want to make it less lonely for fellow female entrepreneurs.

Also I love LadyBoss Elite – our membership program for female entrepreneurs because we provide each other the support, ideas, resources that are all beneficial to our businesses and our personal networks. We review every nomination for LadyBoss Elite and we only pick women of the right profile to join us.

MELISSA: The best part has got to be getting to know women who are so passionate about achieving their goals and constantly being inspired to do better for myself. I get comments about how I am so young and that they admire that I’ve done so much. I don’t think that I’ve achieved much but it certainly motivates me to do even more because I feel that they are rooting for me to succeed and I should not let them down! Do I sound silly?

Entrepreneurship can be a very lonely journey. We want to make it less lonely for fellow female entrepreneurs. – Liyana

 

LadyBoss 2nd Mar Event Anna Gong
LadyBoss’ Networking Event in March, held at The Mobel Story

 

Liyana speaking on the panel discussion at our event in May
Liyana speaking on the panel discussion at our event in May

 

Attendees at LadyBoss' March event
Attendees at LadyBoss’ March event

My vision for LadyBoss is to create a big impact not just in the region but also globally … I hope that both women and men  will acknowledge what women can achieve.  – Melissa

Q: What is your vision for LadyBoss?

JACKIE: We want LadyBoss to be the mainstream media platform focused on women in business, like a Forbes Women or Fortune Women but for Asia. We also want to run our LadyBoss events across Asia and become the premier event for women entrepreneurs to attend.

LIYANA: There are many things we can achieve with LadyBoss. I want our readers to feel inspired from the articles on our website, I want them to feel energised from hearing stories of female entrepreneurs at our networking events, and I want them to feel that LadyBoss is making a difference to the female entrepreneurs’ community.

I would also like for us to have multiple partnerships with interesting companies who are doing good things for women out there, so that together we can make an impact.

I imagine that someday we could expand internationally, or perhaps franchise LadyBoss as a media/business model to external partners in other countries. The sky is the limit. To me, LadyBoss is not just a website, or a business – it’s a movement and a paradigm shift.

MELISSA: My vision for LadyBoss is to create a big impact not just in the region but also globally. By reading about the stories that we share, I hope that both women and men will acknowledge what women can achieve. Collaborating with these women who support our cause has showed me that there are so many businesswomen out there who are willing to support one another. We want to promote a culture where women support women and change mindsets towards LadyBosses. I don’t have a measurable vision but it is the effects which I do want to see.

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