Entrepreneurship, Self-Improvement

10 Things No One Told Me About Being My Own Boss – Deborah Tan

Deborah Tan thought she was ready for life as her own boss but little did she expect …

You can plan, plot and scheme all you want but diving into the world of entrepreneurship is like Forrest Gump with a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. I thought I had sufficiently prepared myself for a new life as “My Own Boss” by reading memoirs of daredevil entrepreneurs and subscribing to websites and magazines about Entrepreneurship. I had made sure that I started my business with people who possess skills and character traits that I don’t. But still, even after a year and a bit of running Material World, I continue to find myself surprised every other day by this rollercoaster ride called Entrepreneurship.

1. The daily panic you get every morning upon waking 
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At first, it was more of a “Is this the day where I finally get a call from the bank telling me, ‘Game over’?” Slowly, if things start looking up, you wake up with this, “Okay … what day is it today? REALLY!” feeling. Every single day, the game plan changes because you have different needs to meet. Today, I could be playing the role of writer, tomorrow, I might have to take off that hat and become a business development manager. Everyone, take a queue number!

2. The amount of negativity you would come to face
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I’m referring to negative voices both inside and out. I remember a meeting I had during Material World’s early days. It was with a guy who is a sort of a “start-up genius”. He has carved a successful career out of starting ecommerce sites delivering food, selling glasses etc. At the meeting, he asked me what Material World was about and five minutes into my intro, he declared that he didn’t see the point of the business. If I had allowed his words to take root inside me, I don’t think I would have lasted to this day.

3. That you need to educate people why your services are worth paying for
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A lot of us go into business thinking we are fulfilling a need in the market, and that people will rush in to pay for our products and services. That’s not always true because sometimes the market might not have realized it needs you. In the beginning, a lot of people would ask to “try you out”, offer to pay you “in kind”. Do you take what you’re given or do you take it upon yourself to explain why you need to be paid in cash? The former earns you goodwill but it doesn’t earn you a business relationship; use it selectively and only with associates you know will honor their word to come through with paying business.

4. That people are more than happy to disavow you
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The silence you receive when you send out emails asking for business, the blank looks you get when you run into familiar faces outside … Thankfully, there are also many who are more than happy to share knowledge, experience and advice. Moral of the story: It’s not always personal so don’t let it get you down.

5. The level of importance you start giving to $5
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Yes … I know some bosses will say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff” but when you are running your own business, every cent counts. Besides the onerous task of getting numbers to balance, you have to watch your cashflow like a hawk. There is no room for frivolous spending, no room for unnecessary headcount, no room for late payments. And yes, a lawyer who can help issue Letters of Demand at a moment’s notice is also very helpful.

6. The crazed level of importance you start giving to your Time
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It’s been mentioned more than a couple of times on this website that to an entrepreneur, TIME is everything. In fact, Time is even more important than Money. You feel bad when you are running late, you feel angry when people run late and don’t warn you beforehand, you go ballistic when you are stood up. Everything that takes up Time, takes up Money.

7. That you don’t want to talk about business all the time
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When I was working, I talked about work all the time. And so, naturally, when I started Material World, I thought I would be talking it about 24/7 too! But surprisingly, I don’t! Sure, among us four partners, we do chatter on about the business when we get together for a beer after 6, however, it is not a conversation that lasts the entire night. Also, whenever friends ask me about Material World, I find myself reluctant to talk about it. It’s not because I’m ashamed of my business but because I feel everything’s cool and I’ve done what I can so I would like to focus on other things now.

8. How paperwork can be so, so, so painful
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At this point, I would like to say this to those who get the whole Government Grants game down pat: RESPECT. One of the things we four found challenging AND tedious was figuring out which grants to apply for, how to file our taxes, how to go through our bank statements each month with a fine-toothed comb … Although our business coach has told us many times to hire someone to do that, we still insist on doing these ourselves because we feel we need to know what’s going on. As Jerry Seinfeld said in the episode in which he refuses to just pee anywhere cos he couldn’t find the toilet, “It builds character.”

9. You lose your ego … 
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… or at least learn when to put it aside. I used to think that my pride would be the last thing I would put down. But when you are running a business, you learn you don’t always have to win. As the saying goes, “Which would you rather – win or be right?” There have been days when I found myself tempted to pick up the phone and scream, “The deal is OFF!” but then, you learn to see the bigger picture and after a cup of tea, you go, “Hey … it’s not so bad.”

10. You’ll let go of things that don’t serve you
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At first, as with all rookie entrepreneurs, I saw every contact as important, I valued every event as a potential opportunity to get new business. However, as we developed our intuition, we also learned to discern which business was worth pursuing and which ones, to give up. Because like most goods of value, there is a finite number. If you make yourself and your services so readily available to everyone, then people will either take you for granted or you will end up shortchanging yourself. You can earn so much more – in terms of money, experience and self-respect – by limiting your business to the few who are willing to pay top dollars for it.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She is really enjoying the entrepreneurship journey and says it’s going to take a lot tempt her to return to a full-time job. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] Review: Mums and Bubs at Breathe Pilates – Delphine Tan

For busy working mothers, being able to combine quality time with Junior along with a fitness session sounds like a win-win situation, right? Find out what Material Mom Delphine Tan has to say about Breathe Pilates’ Mums & Bubs class! 

About one or two months after baby is born, the thought that crosses my mind the most often after “I wish I could get more sleep!” is “I really should get back into shape!” It’s easier said than done, however, especially if you are nursing and can’t be away from baby (or a breast pump) for too long. One solution is an exercise class that actually encourages you to bring baby along.

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Yep! That’s a baby right there between my legs …

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Which is more fun to work out with: ball or baby?

Mums & Bubs class at Breathe Pilates is perfect if you want to ease back into exercising after delivery but need to have baby with you all the time. If you want to attend without baby in tow, you are also more than welcome to. Baby should be able to support his own neck well but should not be crawling yet.

Clear instructions that were easy to follow were given throughout the class. It was my first time doing Pilates exercises on a reformer and I appreciated that the equipment provided the support needed by a post-natal body to safely carry out the exercises. The exercises chosen were suitable for regaining core strength and flexibility after delivery and not too strenuous.

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I would have liked it more if the exercises incorporated the baby directly; most of the time, we left baby lying down while we played a sort of peekaboo while doing our Pilates exercises on the reformer. That would be okay for most babies but mine is very restless and just wanted to be carried so he started fussing.

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Overall, it was an enjoyable session as it got me moving and definitely more interested in exercising! Mums & Bubs at Breathe Pilates is conducted on Wednesdays at 11.30am.

Breathe Pilates is located at #09-33 Novena Medical Center, 10 Sinaran Drive (8 participants); and #13-02 Parkway Centre, 1 Marine Parade Central. For more information or to make an appointment, call 9835 5683, email info@breathepilates.com.sg, or visit www.breathepilates.com.sg.

Delphine and family The Author: Delphine Tan still feels like a kid but is married to Adrian and mother to Anya, Adam, and David. Since she has no artistic talent and does not know how to cook, she spends her free time reading, blogging, and collecting matryoshka. Besides being addicted to caffeine, Delphine also suffers from the compulsive need to Instagram every single plate of food that she eats. 

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Beauty & Shopping, Makeup

3 Secrets To Beautiful Eyes, 1 Place To Get Them – Deborah Tan

Are you obsessed about the way your brows and lashes look? If you’re anything like Deborah Tan, these 3 offerings from Browhaus may just be what you need.

Growing up, I was always told that my eyes were beautiful. Since crossing the 3-0 mark, I have noticed that my eyes are not as “young looking” as they used to be. I may be paranoid here but I’ve noticed that if I left the house without drawing my brows and lining my eyes, and I happened to have a picture taken, I would look damn tired in the photo.

It goes without saying that on any average day, the 2 makeup steps that I HAVE to do are: (1) draw my brows and (2) line my eyes. Even on days when I don’t feel like wearing sunscreen (yes, it happens to the best of us, okay?), I have to do my eyes.

What about mascara? Well, unfortunately, I do not have a relationship with mascaras. My lashes are stick-straight and are pretty resistant to curling. Wearing mascara is also uncomfortable since I tend to tear whenever I yawn. Waterproof mascaras stay on for nearly all day except they make my lashes look a bit stiff. Smudge-proof mascaras, however, are a no-go because they don’t stand a chance against my oily eyelids.

So, what does it mean to have eyes that don’t quite betray your real age? For me, besides being free of lines, eyebags and dark circles, lush eyebrows, luxuriant lashes and dark lash lines are also a must.

For the last 3, it seems Browhaus of the Spa Esprit Group may just be able to help …

Browhaus at One Raffles Place, #04-01

Browhaus at One Raffles Place, #04-01

Mission 1: Get eyebrows tweezed and shaped
If I don’t draw my eyebrows, I’ll look like I have none. No kidding! My eyebrows are a bit of a mess – thick and unruly at the inner half, sparse at the outer. I checked out Browhaus’ new joint at One Raffles Place. I tried the Thread+Tweeze treatment where, as its name already suggests, a combination of threading and tweezing is used to shape my brows. The session was over in less than 15 minutes and I was immensely glad to see that the therapist had given me a pair natural-looking brows that were neither too dark nor too arched.

Nice, neat, shapely brows ... even after 2 weeks!

Nice, neat, shapely brows … even after 2 weeks!

Verdict: It’s been two weeks since my Thread+Tweeze session and my eyebrows remain in good shape. Of course they still need to be drawn (if you want to put an end to that, you can try Browhaus’ Brow Resurrection treatment) but there is hardly any stray hair under or above the main body. The therapist had done a very thorough job and, honestly, I’m now tempted to “outsource” the work of maintaining my eyebrows to her.

 

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Mission 2: Plump up my lashes
Browhaus HD Mascara is part of Browhaus’ first-ever range of eye makeup and it promises to lengthen and hold the curl of your lashes for up to 24 hours. If you are looking for a mascara that will dramatically transform your eyes with some serious va-va-voom effects, this isn’t it. This mascara basically helps your lashes look more lush. The formula goes on smoothly (there is really no clumps!) and it really feels weightless.

No va-va-voom effect but I love that my lashes look soft and lush.

No va-va-voom effect but I love that my lashes look soft and lush.

Verdict: I like that this mascara is super-comfortable to wear. It is waterproof as well so no worries about walking in the drizzle. The brush effectively separates the lashes too so you don’t end up with spidery strands.

 

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Mission 3: Darken the lash line
At $17.90, this liquid felt-tip eyeliner is definitely going to be my new go-to eyeliner. The Precision Eyeliner delivers intense, dark lines and, using it to create wing tips is such a breeze. The formula doesn’t crust up so you won’t get black flakes falling into your eyes in the middle of the day. I may be a bit biased now but this wins Best New-To-Market Liquid Eyeliner in my books.

Now all Browhaus needs is an eyebrow kit to complete the set!

Now all Browhaus needs is an eyebrow kit to complete the set!

Verdict: Previously, I could never use an eyeliner and mascara together (unless a professional makeup artist helps me out). The tip of this eyeliner finds its way in-between lashes so easily, lining your eyes after mascara is absolutely do-able. I prefer to line my eyes after mascara cos my eyeliner always comes off onto the lash curler’s rubber bit.

Browhaus’ newest branch is located One Raffles Place, #04-01. The Browhaus HD Mascara and Precision Eyeliner both retail at $17.90 at all Browhaus outlets. For a full listing, click here. This post is neither paid for nor advised by Browhaus. All opinions are the author’s own.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She wants to know what it means to age gracefully and would like to invite you to take this survey here. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

 

 

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Deborah Tan, Opinions

Is It So Hard To Make The Minimum Sum Scheme An Option? – Deborah Tan

Whether the Minimum Sum Scheme is for the better or for worse, Deborah Tan believes that the only way we will ever know is to make it an option, not a rule.

Who's right, who's wrong?

Who’s right, who’s wrong?

From the rational to the emotional, a war for our CPF monies is being fought between proponents and opponents of the Minimum Sum scheme. A stalemate seems to be happening – whether you’re for it or against it, there will always be an argument to support your case.

But the same few arguments keep surfacing ever so often. What are they:

1. “It is my money. I should be able to decide what I want to do with it!” 

2. “Do you really know what to do with your money? Look at the number of old folks who squandered their CPF away!” 

3. “The Minimum Sum keeps increasing because Singaporeans are living longer, which is why you need more set aside in your Minimum Sum – so it can last for longer.”

I’ve written about the increasing difficulty to retire well in Singapore, how it is truly a challenge to meet the Minimum Sum and still save enough money so you don’t find yourself trying to eke out a living cleaning foodcourt tables when you’re 72 years old.

People on both sides of the fence have responded vigorously – and not just to my post. As long as an article is written about CPF, you will hear them. Some say that those who want to withdraw their CPF in one lump sum are short-sighted and will prove to be a burden on society when they have exhausted their retirement funds before they die. Some say that a life with no dignity is not worth living at all, that we may as well go out with a bang. Some say that the government knows how unpopular its policies are but the fact that it is sticking to the Minimum Sum scheme shows that it really believes it is for the good of the country.  And the list goes on.

Nest-EggIn my opinion, it boils down to one crucial point:

The individual’s definition of what it means to retire well.

Can anyone – politicians and citizens – say they know, for sure, what is the best way to retire?

We can’t in good conscience say we do. We can’t use economic theories to decide how people should live their lives. We can’t accuse someone of bad financial planning when they have had no finances to plan for in the first place. We can’t say things are good and balmy when the only life some of us have known is one that is filled with going to good schools, having an overseas education, and working and living in the world’s poshest cities.

What can we do?

1. Respect that everyone has a dream
Remember when as a kid your mum told you to put your ang pow money away into a savings account so you can buy whatever toy you want at the end of the year? Similarly when we put away money for retirement, we dream about what we can use this nest egg for. Some want to spread it out and have this money last them for as long as they live. Some want to use it to travel and see the world because when they were younger they did not have the chance to do it. Some want to use the money to make the lives of their sons and grandchildren easier. Who is to say that there is only one way to spend your retirement money?

2. Understand that all of us have our own set of difficulties 
If you do manage to pay off your property loan by the time you retire, good for you. If you don’t and you have no job, no children to support you, nothing to your name, what are you going to do? For those who have children later in life, they will also be faced with the double whammy of having to pay for their kids’ education WHILE subsisting on a monthly payout. Yes, there are grants, bursaries and scholarships they can apply for, yes, there are even loans their kids can take. But why should we have to subject our children to even more debts when we can use our retirement funds to pay for their education? Sure it sounds like bad planning, not having set aside a college fund, but does everyone actually have that luxury? You ask, why can’t these kids work for their school fees? Well, let’s not assume that even if they don’t, they are useless, stupid or recalcitrant. Every family has their own story, don’t assume you know all of it.

3. Give people a choice
Perhaps the question we should all be asking is: Why can’t there be a choice? If – as the current situation demonstrates – there are really two camps, then make the Minimum Sum scheme an opt-in. Since so many people seem happy enough to remonstrate those who want to be able to withdraw their CPF in one lump sum, I’m sure they will elect to stick to the scheme even if it’s an option. Some may argue that chaos and economic ruin will follow should we be given the choice to opt out of the Minimum Sum scheme, but I liken it to Christians believing that God gave us free will so we may appreciate the horrors of Hell. If we were to never know the bad, how can we truly see the good?

Questioning the wisdom and the benefits of a certain policy does not make one ungrateful. Sure, we can compare ourselves to those living in poorer countries, to those who fear walking the streets alone at night … but ultimately, in 30, 40 years’ time, it is here in this city that we will be retiring in and looking to those worse off than us is not going to make retiring in Singapore any easier.

Making every penny count in your old age ... do you really want that?

Making every penny count in your old age … do you really want that?

[Author’s note: In my last post about CPF, there were rude and nasty comments that did not add constructively to the conversation. As such, please understand that Material World reserves the right to not approve or to delete comments that do not contribute to the topic in a rational and objective manner.]

 

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She doesn’t see why this discussion about CPF has to get ugly and so please keep your sarcasm and stings to yourself. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Deborah Tan, Opinions

Renting Flats Out To Tourists: Yes Or No? – Deborah Tan

Whether or not you agree that HDB flats can be used to host tourists, Deborah Tan hopes you can understand why so many are tempted to do it.

Until last year, I never knew what it was like to worry about money. Petrol prices gone up again? Who cares? This route will take me through 25 ERPs? So? I didn’t even bother noting down when people borrowed money from me. Money – to me back then – was not something that plagued my every waking hour. It was just there.

Then I left my job.

Then I cancelled my insurance policies because I couldn’t afford the premiums. I used to joke how if I died, my family would get more than a million dollars. Well, now everyone, you can drop any idea of murdering me.

Then my CPF dwindled to almost nothing.

Then I gave up my investments so I could pump money back into my CPF to pay for my mortgage.

Then I finally gave up my car.

The situation was depressing but I am glad I wasn’t crippled by it.

And I thought about renting out my couch to super budget travellers ...

And I thought about renting out my couch to super budget travellers …

But today, my business is running well – thank god. I earn enough each month to pay my bills and to set aside some money for rainy days. Nonetheless the way I now see money has irrevocably changed.

The recent news that HDB flat owners are running foul of the law by renting out their flats to tourists struck a chord with me because I can understand why some of us would grab on to whatever opportunity we have to make some more money. To the person earning $10,000 a month, a $100 a day may not mean much. To the person earning just $1,000, $100 is a lot.

I went through a period where I needed money so badly I wanted to stop for people trying to get a cab and ask them how much they would pay me to give them a lift!

This isn’t an article about whether HDB flat owners should be allowed to use their properties to earn a little extra cash. This is an article to explain why some of us would do something like this.

You don’t need me to tell you – once again – that it is expensive to live in Singapore. Rather, here’s what a little more money can do for the person who earns less than $5,000 a month.

1. It helps us breathe just that little easier
Ever looked at your bank statement the day before an amount is due to be “Giro-ed” out of it? Have you gotten stressed over how you would find enough money to put into your bank account? If so, then you will understand why $100, $50 or even $20 would make a difference.

2. It helps us plan our lives just a little better
I had a bank account where I promised I won’t never dip into. That bank account is now gone. How? Whenever a bill needed to be paid, and I didn’t have enough, I would transfer money from one account to another. You may say, “Well, put it back when you get money next”, but it doesn’t work that way. Because when money next came in, more bills needed paying. The hole never really gets filled – unless a windfall happens. Dealing With Life 1, Planning For The Future 0.

3. It keeps us from making soul-killing decisions
I won’t go as far as to use the word “bad”. When I found myself strapped for cash, I made decisions based on how much money I would have had to spend, and often, that led me to greater disappointment. I scrambled for work that weren’t worth my time and ended up feeling worse about myself. I was blinded by my need to hold on to as much cash as possible and I compromised on my pride and happiness, and eventually my confidence. Without confidence, it was just one bad call after another. There was no dignity to speak of.

Why is it important for people to be able to repurpose what they already have? Because Life keeps on going and we need to keep on going with our heads held high. Dignity is not only for the rich. We need to be able to use what we’ve got to help us make a little more money so Life can be just a little better. We want to be able to have a solution that doesn’t take away more money, time or energy, so that we can focus on being better employees, better parents, better spouses, better people.

Worrying about money is crippling and although money isn’t everything, having more of it really doesn’t hurt.

Oh, by the way, if you think this is a post about entitlements, you are clearly too comfortable and too sheltered to realize why so many of us would hold on to $20 tighter than you would hold on to your designer totes.

Dignity cannot be bought but we can most certainly earn it.

Question: Do you think it is worth exploring letting HDB flat owners rent their properties out to tourists?

 

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. Homestays – she believes – are some of the best ways for a traveller to experience a city. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

 

 

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Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] Whatever You Have Learnt From Matchmakers Is Wrong – Deborah Tan

Sick and tired of being told you have to be The Right One instead of always trying to look for The One? Deborah Tan says just don’t do either.

puzzle_heart_pieces__jpg_408x395_q85How do you find The One? How do you decide that a person is THE person you’ll marry?

I had asked these questions, and I had wondered the same thing about The One. I had been in the position where I asked my married friends how they got to the stage where they basically made up their minds that their husbands/wives were the people they wanted to build a life with together.

And now, I find myself being asked these same questions too.

Is There Such A Thing As “The One”?
I think many of us see Marriage as the end-goal of being in a relationship, a destination that you and your man work towards getting to. As such, we tend to want to set a clear finish point – The One. Who is The One? How does he look like? What should he be like? What can I do to make sure The One is The Best One For Me?

If you are going to obsess over The One, you shouldn’t, therefore, be surprised to find yourself driven mad by the impossibility of locking down “The One”.

Some women, and men, may go, “No! I absolutely know what I want in a life partner!” But the majority of us will find that what we want is often not what we get. Holding out indefinitely for The One to appear in our lives isn’t the solution because that just means we are missing out on the thrills and spills of going on dates and falling in and out of love.

Just go with the flow. You will find him/her when you do!!

lovequoteHow Do You Become Someone’s The One?
I don’t know. I really don’t. A founder of a popular matchmaking agency in Singapore once told me that it’s not about finding The One – it’s about being The Right One. The idea is that somehow you can carve and shape yourself out to be the ideal mate for someone out there if you work hard at checking all the imaginary boxes on his/her list. It’s ludicrous. First, we all have no idea what other people want. Second, we can’t completely become what other people want without betraying our true nature. Third, why do it?

It doesn’t work. I have tried to be sporty, musically-inclined, adventurous, cool, whatever … to be the person I thought would attract the different guys I was crushing on at different points of my life. It worked as well as taxes on cigarettes trying to stop teenagers from smoking. What worked? I quit trying and just went out with the mentality that I am awesome in my own right and if no one wants a piece of this awesomeness, it’s their loss.

You have probably heard all the cliches before: “Love finds you”, “Let Nature take its course”, “Don’t try too hard”, “Be yourself”. You have probably tried to abide by these “rules” and still have yet found someone whom you can call your own. I’m ashamed to say that my advice isn’t the solution either. I don’t know why some of us are perpetually single, I don’t know why some of us have relationships that never bear fruit, and I don’t know why some of us find Love so easily.

But I do know that being in a relationship, being married, having a boyfriend/girlfriend … does not complete you. Being someone else’s girlfriend doesn’t make you a better person than a single girl. I made this analogy to a friend earlier this month:

“When you go out shopping for a dress, do you pick the dress that is missing a sleeve and calling out to you to ‘complete it’? No! You don’t! You buy the completed dress! Similarly, when someone is looking for a partner, he/she isn’t looking for someone that needs ‘completing’! Be a complete person and stop thinking someone will make you whole. There’s nothing attractive in a dress with a missing sleeve.”

If you feel something’s missing in your life, let me just say this … it’s not another person.

I've been looking for someone like you my whole life!!!

I’ve been looking for someone like you my whole life!!!

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Deborah Tan talks about the trials and tribulations of being newly married. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. The only thing that is missing in her right now is breakfast. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

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Beauty & Shopping, Skincare

5 Reasons This Is 2014’s Best Moisturiser for Oily Skin – Deborah Tan

In the beauty race to be this year’s best products, Deborah Tan has found her winner for “Best Moisturiser for Oily Skin” in Kiehl’s new and improved Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream.

We are not halfway into June and, here I am, casting my vote for “2014’s Best Moisturiser for Oily Skin”. To be honest, when Kiehl’s launched the Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream a couple of years ago, I was ambivalent, to say the least. While it wasn’t as rich as the classic Ultra Facial Cream, it didn’t exactly have the best texture where oil-free, super hydrating moisturisers were concerned.

And my vote for Best Moisturiser for Oily Skin goes to ...

And my vote for Best Moisturiser for Oily Skin goes to …

But this year, the Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream has been given a face-lift (hurhur …). The texture is lighter, more watery, and most importantly, it is absorbed very easily by the skin. Still doesn’t explain why this is THE BEST moisturiser for oily skin? Be patient. Read on.

1. Say “Goodbye” To Schizo Skin
My skin acts up whenever I have to fly. How is it possible for skin to be flaky and oily at the same time?!? I tried the new Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream on a recent flight to Japan and was pleased to find it helped kept my skin smooth, soft and shine-free throughout.

2. Preps Skin Nicely For Makeup
The key to a natural-looking base makeup? Moisturiser. And you need just the right type and amount. Too rich and your makeup won’t stay on for long, too dry and you end up with a cakey finish. This moisturiser preps the skin so it’s supple enough for your foundation.

3. Keeps Skin Matte For A Very Long Time 
The principle behind why we need to hydrate our skin is because thirsty skin produces more oil as a way of compensating for the dryness. Most hydrating moisturisers I’ve tried have never successfully kept my skin shine-free for more than a couple of hours. With Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream, I found my face stayed matte and fresh through an entire day of going in and out of air-conditioned offices and into the open.

Photos have not been digitally touched up or altered in any way.

Pictures taken on the same day at times stated. Photos have not been digitally touched up or altered in any way.

4. A Relief On Super Hot Days
Do you find your skin crying out for cool relief on afternoons when the mercury hits 35 and above? I certainly do. I keep a jar of this moisturiser on my office desk so I can freshen up after coming in from the sun. The moisturiser sinks into the skin so easily, all you need to do is pat any perspiration off and dab this soothing balm onto your skin. Ahhhh …. sweet relief!

5. Feels Great On Necks
My neck area is prone to oiliness, especially in the more humid months. However, I’m well past the age bracket where I can afford to neglect the area. This moisturiser is powerful enough for the neck area if you want something that hydrates without leaving a sticky film behind.

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream, $48 for 50ml, at all Kiehl's stores islandwide

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream, $48 for 50ml, at all Kiehl’s stores islandwide

I started using Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free on May 7. It’s been a month and I have noticed these improvements to my skin:
1. It stays calm even if I go from cool, dry air-conditioning into the hot and humid outdoors 
2. It flushes less easily
3. It doesn’t get shiny or oily in the afternoon
4. Makeup goes on more easily and stays on longer

Verdict:
Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream keeps my skin hydrated no matter where I am. Mid-day oil slicks have become a thing of the past and I love how my complexion is so much calmer now. I strongly recommend this moisturiser for anyone who wants to keep their skins well-hydrated whatever the climate or temperature.

Get your sample via a 5-minute consultation here.

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream was given to Material World for review purposes. All opinions are the author’s own. This post was neither paid for nor advised by Kiehl’s.

 

[Want more awesome beauty products? How about …
1. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream
2. Biotherm Life Plankton Essence
3. Yves Rocher White Botanical

 

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Branded Content, Character & Soul, Self-Improvement

She Is The Youngest Singaporean To … – Deborah Tan

Last year, Yvonne Chee became the youngest Singaporean to complete 7 marathons on 7 continents – all this while juggling an overseas job posting! At Material World’s video shoot for Elizabeth Arden’s new UNTOLD Eau Legere fragrance, Deborah Tan interviews Yvonne over Skype to find out more about her story.

Material World and Elizabeth Arden Present Yvonne Chee’s UNTOLD Story

 

First, forgive us if this video with Yvonne comes across as “DIY”. The segments featuring her talking were shot by her husband. Material World interviewed Yvonne over Skype to get her Untold story because it was simply too inspiring to miss!

When it comes to running, we either love it or hate it. Yvonne took her love for running to the extreme by making it her goal to run a marathon on every continent on this planet. So what drove her to do something, many of us consider “madness”? We get the low-down:

Yvonne2You are the youngest Singaporean to achieve this feat. Were there any other Singaporeans who have done it before?

“Prior to my completing this goal, two other Singaporeans have done so – Dr William Tan in 2007 and Ms Gloria Lau in 2012.”

Was this just only about running?

“No. While the goal was to run a marathon on every continent, I dedicated this project to a charity as well, helping to raise funds and awareness through my efforts. I wanted to raise funds for the Tsao Foundation because I wanted to honor the memory of my late grandmother who took care of me while I was growing up. In Singapore, we tend to forget about the elderly but they too have contributed to the society in their time and we need to remember that.”

Yvonne3Tell us more about your grandmother.

“My grandmother passed away in 1997 – a week before my GCE A-level exams. I was so devastated and cried endlessly for days. It seemed as if I would be a total wreck going into my exams but I knew she wouldn’t want me to wallow in sadness and so, I decided to focus on doing well so she would be proud of me.”

How did you manage to juggle a full-time job and training for your marathons?
“Training for my marathons and raising funds and awareness for the Tsao Foundation meant a serious loss of social life. I slept only 5 hours every day. My husband’s main complaint was that I wasn’t getting enough sleep and that my early hours meant I ‘made too much noise’! Some see it as a sacrifice but I derived a great sense of joy and satisfaction working towards my goal and giving back to society.”

Watch: Episode 1 of “Her UNTOLD Story” with Lena Sim, founder and CEO of Ministry of Food.

Tell us your very own UNTOLD story and you might just win an Elizabeth Arden hamper worth more than $400.

elizabeth arden prize

Tell us your very own personal story of overcoming the obstacles Life placed in your way. The best story not only gets to be featured on Material World, it will also win an Elizabeth Arden product hamper! Each hamper contains a UNTOLD Eau Légère 100ml (worth $117), Beautiful Color Moisturizing Lipstick #Red Door Red (worth $34), and a Prevage® AM Regimen Starter Kit (worth $248).

For details on how you can win one, remember to watch the entire video.

Score an exclusive sample of UNTOLD Eau Légère! Simply be among the first 150 readers to visit Elizabeth Arden counter at Robinsons Raffles City from NOW and quote “Material World” to earn your sample fragrance vial.

This is the second of 3 videos Material World has produced in collaboration with Elizabeth Arden. Elizabeth Arden worked with Material World to produce a series of videos featuring Singaporean women, each with their own inspiring tale to share. The women featured are not spokespeople of Elizabeth Arden and they were not remunerated for their participation in this project.

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Gadgets & Toys, Lifestyle

5 Faces You’ll Inevitably Have When Driving This Car – Deborah Tan

If Deborah Tan could get away with grand theft auto, the new Volkswagen Golf R would be the FIRST car she’d steal. Every cell in her body is dying to possess this beauty. Read on to find out why.

The new object of my desire.

The new object of my desire.

Read my car reviews often enough and you’ll know I love the Volkswagen Golf … in all its many variations. Recently I was invited to test-drive the new Golf R. I mean, I could talk about how it’s so incredibly powerful and responsive, how the interior lights up in gorgeous blue, how the eye-catching Lapiz Blue metallic paint finish is exclusive only to the Golf R, and why the four-wheel drive makes it such a wonderful thing to drive.

But I had noticed something else in the 3 days that I had the car. It’s the indescribable feeling of awesomeness and pride I feel every time I get behind the wheel.

I think a typical wordy review will not do the Golf R any justice. So I’m going to attempt to show you why this is the car you should just ask to test-drive even if you have no intention of buying a set of wheels at the moment (I know … the COE is just ridonkulous … but test-drives are free, right?).

1. When I Turned On The Ignition …
The car went …

I went …

 

2. When I Wanted To Overtake Another Car That Was Road-Hogging The Right Lane …
The car went …

I went …

 

3. When I Stopped At My Security Guardhouse To Get A Temporary Carpark Pass
The uncle went …

I pretended …

 

4. When I Drove The Car In Race Mode
My friends went …

And I felt this …

 

5. All in all, driving in the Volkswagen new Golf R …
… is a bit like this …

The new Volkswagen Golf R is now available for test-drive at Volkswagen Alexandra and Volkswagen Macpherson. Material World was lent the car for test-drive purposes, all opinions are the author’s own. This post was neither paid for nor advised by Volkswagen Singapore.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

 

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Branded Content, Character & Soul, Entrepreneurship, Self-Improvement

The Story of This Restaurant Owner Will Surprise You – Vanessa Tai

Lena Sim, founder and CEO of Ministry of Food, has a story that is worthy of any bestselling novel. At Material World’s video shoot for Elizabeth Arden’s new UNTOLD Eau Legere fragrance, Vanessa Tai sat down with Lena to find out more about her fascinating journey.

Material World and Elizabeth Arden Presents Lena Sim’s UNTOLD Story

 

Perhaps one of the last things you’d associate with a restauranteur is a childhood marked by poverty and hunger. Abandoned by her parents as a baby, Lena and her grandmother were left to fend for themselves. Lena and her grandmother were sometimes too poor to buy food that they were forced to rummage through rubbish bins for leftovers.

Behind the scenes of the Elizabeth Arden Untold Legere shoot.

Behind the scenes of the Elizabeth Arden Untold Legere shoot.

After graduating from university, she had a high-paying job in the finance industry but she still felt something was missing. She quit her job to travel for a bit, and found herself in Taiwan where she first tried a delicious green tea dessert from an old Japanese dessert chain. From there, she travelled to Japan to convince the founders of the dessert chain to expand to Singapore. After a lot of time and effort, her tenacity once again paid off and Ministry of Food was born.

Today, there are over 50 restaurants in Singapore under the Ministry of Food brand, and plans are in the pipeline to expand the brand across the region. Of course, the entrepreneurial path is never always a smooth one. Lena shares with us what keeps her going.

Tell us about the challenges you face and how you overcome them.

“Each day is a challenge; there will always be problems to solve and fires to fight. Entrepreneurship is all about facing failure, crying, and then standing up again. I believe the moment you stop running is the moment your business will flop. You just have to persevere and never say die. Every business is like a marathon – you need a lot of patience, discipline, and perseverance.”

How do you cope with the pressure?

“When you are doing something you love, you will naturally have the energy to press on. When I first made the career switch into F&B, my peers used to think I was making a big mistake and would laugh at me. However, these same people who chose to follow their ‘brains’ are now unhappy and stressed out in their jobs, with some of them even facing very real possibilities of retrenchment. This is why I firmly believe in following your heart. I’m full of energy each day, and I rarely feel tired when I’m at work.”

Do you ever find time to unwind?

“I hardly unwind because I enjoy myself so much at work that I don’t find a need to unwind. However, I’ve recently discovered it’s actually very therapeutic to go grocery shopping!”

Myself, Lena, and the videography team!

Myself, Lena, and the videography team!

 

Tell us your very own UNTOLD story and you might just win an Elizabeth Arden hamper worth more than $400.

elizabeth arden prize

Tell us your very own personal story of overcoming the obstacles Life placed in your way. The best story not only gets to be featured on Material World, it will also win an Elizabeth Arden product hamper! Each hamper contains a UNTOLD Eau Légère 100ml (worth $117), Beautiful Color Moisturizing Lipstick #Red Door Red (worth $34), and a Prevage® AM Regimen Starter Kit (worth $248).

For details on how you can win one, remember to watch the entire video.

Score an exclusive sample of UNTOLD Eau Légère! Simply be among the first 150 readers to visit Elizabeth Arden counter at Robinsons Raffles City from NOW and quote “Material World” to earn your sample fragrance vial.

This is the first of 3 videos Material World has produced in collaboration with Elizabeth Arden. Elizabeth Arden worked with Material World to produce a series of videos featuring Singaporean women, each with their own inspiring tale to share. The women featured are not spokespeople of Elizabeth Arden and they were not remunerated for their participation in this project.

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Beauty & Shopping, Skincare

Beauty Review: Origins High Potency Night-A-Mins – Deborah Tan

Are you religious with your night cream? Deborah Tan admits she isn’t … but … she may just have found The One in Origins’ new High Potency Night-A-Mins.

I think I have found THE night cream of my dreams. Night creams are tricky business for me because I often find them too rich for my skin. For those who don’t sleep in air-conditioned rooms, you may find using night creams – which tend to have a richer consistency than their Day sisters – result in you waking up to a thin film of oil on your face. I could use a night cream with a less rich texture, but often, these feel inadequate and not soothing enough.

I’m at the age where I want my night cream to be everything without being oily. I want my night cream to (1) have lots of skin-loving benefits (2) have a relaxing scent and (3) be able to give my skin a nice, rested glow in the morning.

When Origins High Potency Night-A-Mins arrived at my desk about a month and a half ago, I couldn’t wait to get home to try it.

High Potency Night A Mins Mineral-enriched Oil-free Renewal CreamThe Science
Night creams often have more potent, richer ingredients because our skin’s temperature and metabolic rate are at their highest at night. As a result, we lose more moisture and produce more free radicals. Night-A-Mins is a mineral- and vitamins-packed cream formulated with a blend of skin-fortifying antioxidants that’ll help strengthen the skin at night so it’ll be better able to protect itself during the day. It is oil-free yet it plumps up skin with hydration with ingredients that replenish its moisture reserves.

The minerals and vitamins that can be found in Night-A-Mins include Salicylic Acid (to help slough away surface dead skin cells), Fennel Seed (to tighten skin), Vitamin C (to fight free radicals), Vitamin H (to promote overall skin health), Calcium (to seal in moisture and defend skin against future dehydration), and Magnesium (to soothe dry skin).

The Scent
The ingredients may be what make Night-A-Mins a highly effective night cream but it is its scent that won me over. It contains an essential oil blend of neroli, which promotes tranquility, valerian, to relieve nervous tension, orange, which conveys positive feelings and happiness, and vanilla, known to relax and soothe irritability.

I love the scent and it is to this delicious cloud of sweet dream-inducing fragrance that I look forward to at the end of every day. Suddenly, bedtime is an event that I look forward to! On weekends, I even use this cream as a day moisturizer so I’ll feel more relaxed and calm!

In fact, it was found in an Actigraph study (an actigraph is a “wristwatch” device  that measures how many tosses and turns you do while you sleep) that almost all panelists experienced a more restful night with longer, more tranquil sleep when they applied Night-A-Mins before bed.

For your best night of sleep ... ever!

For your best night of sleep … ever!

Using It
Dole out a pearl-sized dollop of Night-A-Mins after cleansing and treating your skin. Gently warm the cream – this will help your skin absorb it better and release its relaxing scent – by rubbing your hands together BRIEFLY and then press it firmly into the skin on your face and neck. Massage the cream into your skin with soft upward motions. Then cup your hands around your nose and inhale deeply to experience the scent.

Verdict
I’ve been using Night-A-Mins for close to two months now and I’m glad to report that I have stuck to it. The gel-cream texture doesn’t grease up the face and it allows those with oily skins to enjoy the rich, skin-repairing benefits of a high potency night cream. The scent makes this cream a joy to use. I notice how my cheeks look rosier and healthier in the mornings while the skin at my forehead and night look smoother and softer. There is little noticeable improvement in lift and firmness, but these you can remedy with a weekly use of skin firming mask or a dose of anti-ageing serum before using this night cream.

I’d recommend Night-A-Mins for women who want to use high potency night creams but have not been able to find out suitable for use in non air-conditioned rooms and for our humid weather.

Origins High Potency Night-A-Mins Mineral-enriched oil-free renewal cream retails at $55 for a 50ml jar at TANGS Vivocity, Robinsons Orchard, Robinsons JEM, Robinsons Raffles City, Isetan Scotts and Metro Paragon.

Night-A-Mins was given to Material World for review purposes. All opinions are the author’s own. This post was neither paid for nor advised by Origins in any way. You may read our advertising policy here.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She believes she’s addicted to the soothing scent of lavender. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

[More beauty reviews you may like]

1. Beauty Review: Origins Smarty Plants CC SPF 20 PA++
2. Beauty Review: Origins GinZing Energy-Boosting Moisturizer

 

 

 

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