People are always forming hasty judgments based on first impressions.
The star of this article today is a 26-year-old fashion and lifestyle blogger turned serial entrepreneur. She’s heavily tattooed, and is a single mother with two young kids in tow. How’s your impression forming so far?
Not that great, I would think.
Well, I am sure the cover photo is already a giveaway – but yes, meet Tammy Tay, who’s better known by her online moniker Ohsofickle.
For those unacquainted, Tammy started out in 2005 building her very own blogshop. She is one of the pioneer blogshop owners in Singapore and it’s not an overstatement to say that she has played an influential role in making blogshops the trend in local fashion.
Just do the math, and you’d find that she broke into the online world of fashion at a tender age of 15! (When I was 15, all I remembered was playing Neopets in school.)
She also made waves in 2014 when she announced that she was expecting a child at 24 and that she would remain with her partner – but not get married to him.
Her decision to be a single mum indeed cause some buzz, but brushing her personal life aside, here’s a backstory of her life as an entrepreneur.
When She Started, All She Had Was $500
According to Tammy, her first online venture wasn’t her blogshop Ohsofickle, even though that’s what most Singaporeans remember her by.
She first dove into the business realm with an online store selling T-shirts with a friend at age 15, back when she was still in secondary school.
The business did surprisingly well, and she thus decided to branch out and sell apparels of different styles.
This led to the birth of Ohsofickle.
After graduating from secondary school, she decided to not pursue her studies although she briefly attended Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) for about two weeks.
“I really wanted to focus on my fashion business. And my mother was very supportive of my decision too as she felt that there was no point in forcing me to study if I did not have the passion for it,” she explained.
Some people might argue that e-commerce was at a very nascent stage a decade ago, and since most people weren’t into shopping online, setting up an online business was most likely to a risky venture.
But Tammy figured that she had nothing to lose. After all, it required a “low startup cost and low overheads”.
Even so, at age 15, I reckoned that she didn’t have any substantial savings to kickstart a business.
“Where did you get your capital from,” I asked.
As it turns out, her business capital was her $500 ‘ang bao’ money – that’s all she had in her bank account then.
On Building And Growing Ohsofickle
With that small sum of money, she single-handedly built an online fashion empire within a couple of years.
To give you an idea, this is how hugely popular her blogshop was: at launch, her apparels were sold out within just four hours.
Demand was at an all-time high, though Tammy admitted that her influencer status probably helped to boost her sales.
“Back then, [the online fashion market] was not as saturated as what it is today, so I had quite a lot of people shopping at my site. Being a blogger also helped a lot as people felt “safe” buying from someone they sort of know. People tend to trust my store more because they knew who was running it,” she said.
While a wide customer base – mostly made up of her blog readers and followers – is a key contributing factor to the blogshop’s success, Tammy also credited it to pure passion and dedication towards delivering fashion-forward pieces at an affordable price tag.
She didn’t want OSF to be a run-of-the-mill brand, so she made it a point to put out clothes that were “quite different” from other existing blogshops back then.
When asked to comment on the OSF’s profits, Tammy declined to answer; but it’s clear that business was going extremely well because she soon established a retail shop at Haji Lane to complement the brand’s online presence.
“Running a retail shop was a lot of fun as I could meet customers in person, but it was also a lot more stressful because of the high rental fees. Since my clothes are sold at a relatively affordable price, the profit margin is quite low. [At the end of the day], most of the profit were [channeled towards paying for the] rental.”
While she has since closed doors for her physical boutique, the fact that OSF is a hugely popular local blogshop still stands.
Even today, OSF has a strong following of over 30,000 people on its Facebook page.
Making The Leap To A Different Industry
In 2014, Tammy decided to put OSF on hiatus because she could not model or source for clothing due to her pregnancy (she was pregnant with her firstborn Elroy then).
Fast forward to three years later, Tammy has taken over her mother’s company and is now running an interior design firm Imagine by SK66.
But why the leap?
“I made the shift when I knew I couldn’t run Ohsofickle. My mother was in this line so I thought it’ll be good to start something with her and learn a new skill,” she explained.
She also said that the interest to pursue this line also probably stemmed from her younger days.
“I grew up watching my parents work when I was younger. My dad (now divorced from my my mother) was an architect, and my mother was an interior designer.”
With no prior knowledge or experience in interior designing, the transition was undoubtedly hard but it was also “very fun and interesting” at the same time for her.
Formerly known as Seng Kwong, the company was established in 1966, and has over 40 years of experience in carpentry.
With such a rich history, Tammy felt pressured to live up to the company’s reputation that had been painstakingly built over the years.
To add on, due to her young age and seeming lack of experience, some clients have actually casted doubts on her ability, but she has since proven them otherwise, as backed by this review below.
In fact, this 26-year-old has even taken to designing and renovating her own home!
Bold and theatrical, yet polished and refined all the same; Tammy’s Boudoir-chic abode is an elegant example of modern opulence, which is a rare gem in today’s sea of minimalist and Scandinavian homes.
All I can say is: #housegoals.
Still Relevant In The Social Media Scene
As she launched herself into a new career, Tammy decided to quit blogging because she wanted to 1) spend more time with her family, 2) focus and develop her full-time career as an interior designer, and 3) keep her personal life more private.
In one on her blog entries (now set to private), she wrote: “It’s been an exciting month learning about this new industry I’m stepping into and I’m loving what I’m doing so far. This also means I’ll be making my exit from the blogosphere soon to focus on this new biz (and my family of course!) once it’s running smoothly and also for personal reasons — want a more private life.”
This was back in 2014, but despite leaving the blogosphere, she is still very active in the social media space today. Besides actively posting on Instagram, she is also venturing to produce beauty-related content on YouTube, though she insists that these videos are more of a hobby for her.
“I think social media has been, and always will, play a huge part in my life. It has brought me to where I am today and it is definitely hard to just cut it off. I started blogging at age 14, and now I’m 26 – that’s 12 years of blogging and sharing bits and pieces of my life with my followers!”
“But I’ve stopped being too opinionated and sharing too much about my personal life so it does look like I’ve recently went into beauty, but I have always been into beauty stuff,” she confessed.
She added that the beauty community right now is very dynamic.
With so many different products emerging in the market, she feels compelled to try them all out and share her thoughts and reviews.
“YouTube is really for fun and I film when I feel like it. I hardly have extra time to sit down to edit [though]. Have you seen the bad quality of my videos?” she joked.
Although it’s been three years since Tammy has shut down her blog and took a break from OSF, I’d say that the legacy of her first business venture still remains.
On that note, Tammy hopes to revive her online fashion store and bring it back to its former glory days. Primarily, she feels that she can now spare more time on this pet project since both her kids are now older and schooling.
Also, since she has “now bounced back to [her] pre-pregnancy body”, she feels more confident in dressing up and modelling for the clothes.
In fact, she is currently working on a “capsule collection” and will be revamping the store sometime this year.
She expressed that she is looking forward to wearing stuff that she personally designed, though she’s unsure how the collection will pan out since she has not designed apparels for over two years now.
“I am also working with a friend on a beauty line doing product testing and it has been really fun! Maybe one day I’ll have an Ohsofickle makeup line?”
With this string of business ventures over the years, it’s clear that Tammy has proven herself – and to the rest of the world – that she is a successful young entrepreneur.
“Age is just a number,” she quipped.
“When starting a business, [you need to] do what you love. I think it is important to do something you enjoy doing because there will be hard days – [don’t do] something just for the sake of fame and money.
“If it succeeds, great! If it doesn’t, at least you tried and did what you loved and had fun doing it.”
Featured Image Credit: Tammy Tay