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Celebrating the superwomen in our F&B partners

March 16, 2020

This March, we celebrate women, and if you were to take a moment and look around you, ladies are gaining strength across the household and community – taking ownership of their health, life and the community around them. With more and more females being bold and willing to explore entrepreneurship, that makes us wonder how did they achieve their success stories and get to where they are today. In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’ve invited the girlbosses of Kith Café and Nesuto Patisserie who have worked with Gryphon Tea to spill the secrets of their success with us.

Jane from Kith Café

Jane, founder of Kith Café
Source: Kith Cafe

You’ve probably sipped on their heavy and rich Kith Blend before, but do you know how this chic all-day dining café came about? The vibrant yellow and bold black branding of Kith may have suggested that the brand was created by a man, but the superwoman behind the brand is Jane.

Established in 2009, Kith Café was one of the pioneers in the café scene back then, offering coffee-lovers and food aficionados the Kith experience by serving up good coffee and simple, hearty, wholly satisfying fare in a customised environment that brings together a strong community of friends and families. So how did Jane did it? Read on to find out in a short Q&A session we had with her!

Q: What type of characteristics do you think a female entrepreneur should possess?

Jane: I don’t particularly think female entrepreneurs should possess different characteristics than male entrepreneurs. In my mind, I think good entrepreneurs should be energetic and full of grit and perseverance yet remain objective. Have a clear and sharp mind to make decisions calmly.

Q: Do you think women feel intimidated in business?

Jane: It’s possible that many women do but honestly, I don’t. Either I’m just happy doing and minding my own business or I don’t let unnecessary things bother me. I must say in Singapore, sexism and feminism is not as stark an issue as it is in many parts of the world because our country was built around meritocracy. 

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge for female entrepreneurs?

Jane: Starting a family. If you start a family and have kids while running your own F&B business, I think that’s really tough juggling both. Some sacrifices will definitely have to be made and you got to give and take because there is only 24 hours in a day and exhaustion usually leads to poor decision making.

Q: How do you achieve work-life balance?

 Jane: Very, very good time planning and scheduling of the day so that I free up time to do whatever else that I want like spending time with family and friends.

Every day I wake up at 4.45am, run, meditate and squeeze in a short audio book learning while I cool off. By 7am latest, I start working from home. That gives me 2 hours ahead of everyone to clear any work, emails or instructions. At that hour, I’m the only one sending things out – no one replies or sends me anything so I really can power through and clear a lot. Come 9am, the barrage of the day begins and I attend to everyone’s requests. 

I also plan back to back meetings in a day so that I clear and meet or speak to everyone at a go. At times, I keep some days completely clear to do my own work. Every Monday to Friday I would be wearing the same thing, I eat the same lunch that I packed in advance such that I don’t have to waste time thinking about these things. I usually eat my lunch in my car while driving from one place to another and save an hour through the commute. All in all, I end my day early, between 5 to 6pm and get home for dinner with no emails or laptops etc, so that I can unwind and sleep decently stress-free.  

On the weekends, sometimes after my daily reading, I literally Netflix and chill – all day from morning to night if I wanted to. Haha!

Q: When it is time to unwind, what is your to-go/favourite tea from Gryphon Tea?

Pearl of the Orient
One of the all-time best sellers from our Artisan Selection

Jane: I’ve always liked the Pearl of the Orient – it’s light and refreshing, without being too overpowering and most importantly, helps me to relax! 

Alicia from Nesuto Patisserie

Alicia, Head Pastry Chef of Nesuto Patisserie
Source: Nesuto Patisserie

Cake-lovers will definitely know Nesuto Patisserie, the bakery that serves a fusion of French and Japanese sweet treats, coffee and seasonal high tea. Nesuto, which translates to “nest” in Japanese, symbolises home and family. Set up in 2017 by girlbosses Alicia and Eileen, alongside Daniel Tan, this humble space hopes to bring the feelings of ease, peace and joy to every customer stepping into its doors by providing a cosy indulgence for one to relax and rejuvenate over a slice of comfort cake and a cuppa.

We had the pleasure of speaking to Alicia, one of the amazing ladies who had 6-years of experience in dessert creation back then and made Nesuto Patisserie a dream come true together with her partners.

Q: What types of characteristics do you think a female entrepreneur should possess?

Alicia: There are two main characteristics that I personally feel is essential. 

Firstly, it is to be ambitious, to clearly know where you are headed, what are your targets and milestones, as well as direction for the business. There will come many junctures on the entrepreneurial journey where your beliefs and goals will be challenged, and you feel less about its significance. However, you just got to stay ambitious, do some re-evaluation and adjust your course where absolutely necessary. 

Secondly, it is to be self-confident. To be confident is to know exactly and clearly what your decisions are, regardless of the tirade of opinions against it, to calmly and objectively evaluate options before coming to a firm conclusion. To stick the course is always tougher than it might seem, with the constant opinions flying above your head! Also, to be consciously self-confident also ensures that we maintain our humility and stay humble on our entrepreneurial journey. 

Q: Do you think women feel intimidated in business?

Alicia: I can’t speak for other women, but in general no matter if you are a man or a woman, to be an entrepreneur itself is already an intimidating business. I personally feel there isn’t much you can do about it, but to stay our course, exercise wisdom in your business dealings, whether internally or externally. 

To be as harmless as a dove, but cunning like a snake; Is to know your environment, but we don’t always have to react to it.

Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge for female entrepreneurs?

Alicia: I feel that the biggest challenge for female entrepreneurs is to manage expectations; internally within the business as well as where family is concerned. To be present and relevant requires attention to the business and the business environment, and to keep the business competitive. 

Q: How do you achieve work-life balance?

Alicia: Although I started out as a pastry-chef, I slowly moved on into a management role wherein I am able to function off-site. This has given me massive flexibility, as being on my laptop, I can attend to customers’ needs, establish corporate connections, as well as liaise with my team regularly without them needing to see me physically. 

That being said, I still step into the kitchen regularly to get a feel of the team dynamics as well as to R&D new products. I also believe in the ownership mentality, where I allow senior staff members to make decisions on the ground on behalf of the company where appropriate. This has played out well enough, that we are operationally stable even when I’m not around for an extended period at a time. 

Q: When it is time to unwind, what is your to-go/favourite tea from Gryphon Tea?

Milky Popcorn
Our best-selling Japanese-fusion tea from our sister brand Rojicha

Alicia: This is interesting – the selection of teas from Gryphon Tea’s sister brand Roji are all awesome as I personally prefer my tea hot. But if I had only one choice, I would choose Milky Popcorn. Usually I would go for single origin teas, but Milky Popcorn is so well executed and it is just such a fun drink to have after a tiring day. All the elements are there, the notes are on point, and having the taste of fragrant popcorn in a drink after a long day just puts a smile on my face. 

To have a day just to celebrate these inspiring ladies isn’t enough, so let’s always remember the qualities that make women sparkle as who they are, for the contributions towards their family and society and for just being oh-so-ah-mazing!

Stay fabulous ladies!

Xoxo,

LX

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