While it’s easy to list a good number of local entrepreneurs off the top of your head, how many mum-trepreneurs can you think of?
Barely any, I’m guessing.
Mum-trepreneurs, a mix of “mum” and “entrepreneur”, have been breaking stereotypes that women can’t be both a stay-at-home mum and a businesswomen at the same time – one of these people is Luxe for Lease’s founder Ling Xin Ying.
She was in a management role in the consumer goods industry for a long time, but had to leave her job due to a difficult pregnancy.
Ling assumed that it would be easy to return to the workforce thereafter, however, when her baby was born with neonatal hepatitis, she had to take a year’s break to look after him.
When Ling returned to the workforce in search of a job, already having wiped out a huge chunk of her savings, she realised quickly that unfortunately, mummy duties and work obligations did not mix well.
Recognising immediately that she needed to make ends meet, Ling decided to become a mum-trepreneur.
With her only worthy assets being bags accumulated during her younger years, she tried reselling them – but found it to be too much of an inconvenience.
Eventually, an idea struck when she thought about car-leasing, and inspired by big players Grab and Uber, she decided to try the model with bags instead.
“The upfront costs are lower, there is no hassle and since the bags made me poor, it is time for them to work hard for me to pay me back!”
The Challenges Of Being A “Mum-trepreneur”
Being a mother and an entrepreneur all at once isn’t an easy feat, but she finds it “insane and exhilarating all at once!”
Ling explains that mothers have to cater to the needs of their child and the needs of the business, and very often, they collide.
“Last time, I had to-do lists. Now, I don’t even have time to make lists.”
Before she had a child, her hours were already long, but now her working hours are both erratic and long. She usually replies emails when her child is asleep, causing her to work up till three in the morning at times.
She may be overwhelmed with fears of “what if”s and the possibility of failure, but Ling is actually more scared of the “If only’s” – like when she gets stuck in a dead-end job and realising she missed her boat only when it’s too late.
Luxe For Lease
Luxe for Lease is an online site that allows for rentals of luxury bags on a weekly or monthly basis.
The service was launched on 23rd August 2016 and aims to provide women the opportunity of owning such luxury bags without burning a hole in their pockets.
“When I see others enter the trap of shelling out a full month’s paycheck on a bag leaving little savings, I decided there had to be a way to enjoy the best of both worlds,” she says.
“Even with very friendly instalment plans, people don’t realise that the full-price of the bags consume a huge chunk of credit limit and thus, leaving them with less disposable income for exigent cases. In my case, it was for my child. With a child [on hand] and having to maintain a wardrobe of bags is just too much hassle – something has to give”.
Bags can be borrowed from the site, and customers have the option of renting a bag from a period of one week to three months.
Payment can be made conveniently via PayPal or credit cards. The best part? The bags will be delivered to your doorstep!
To return the rented bags, Luxe for Lease will schedule an appointment for collection of the bag two days prior to the end. Customers are also able to extend their renting period by notifying the company two days before the lease ends.
For now, Luxe for Lease will only be leasing Chanel bags, but do keep a lookout for more to come.
However, getting Singaporeans excited to the idea of leasing a branded bag instead of buying one may prove harder than it seems.
Ling reveals that while the culture of leasing of luxury items has taken off very well in other countries, Singaporeans still aren’t too keen on the idea, since many see owning such items as a symbol of status – if they lease one, they might feel as though they are losing their pride.
But she also points out that leasing is in fact well-entrenched in the lives of all.
“Our houses are leased for 99 years and our cars for 10 years. We just don’t realise it,” she says. With Luxe for Lease, she hopes to successfully change consumer behaviours and mindsets to be receptive to a sharing economy in Singapore.
Not satisfied with just staying within Singapore, Ling plans to expand her business into other countries such as Hong Kong, South Korea and even Australia.
Words Of Wisdom
Ling advises all current mum-trepreneurs and ones-to-be to cut themselves some slack.
There will be guilt for not being a good mother or an entrepreneur, but she urges all to be as objective as they can, mark out their areas of improvement, be realistic about their time and get as much sleep as possible.
“Surround yourself with a community that will feed you with positive vibes. You’ll need every last drop of positivity when the going gets tough and that will happen a lot especially in the beginning.”
And for all budding entrepreneurs – be it young or old – Ling suggests to put aside your ego and learn to take constructive criticism from people.
Now, who’s still saying that your career ends once you have a child?