Faye is perhaps the perfect example of someone who has been able to take something they’re passionate about and merge it with something that they’re trying to achieve. As an entrepreneur in Singapore, she spends her time on marketing and communications, coming from a background in Business (Marketing and Management) and eventually a Masters in Environment and Sustainable Development.
Ironically, Faye found that she wasn’t initially a big fan of marketing and business. While she was intrigued by her studies, her internships were proof that she wasn’t meant for that particular kind of “corporate world”. She never thought that she was going to be an entrepreneur, but at the end of her time in London doing her masters, her circumstances lined up. Having lived in London where online gourmet coffee companies were more common, Faye saw the opportunity to bring the industry to Singapore. She mimicked classic entrepreneurial behavior, building on her awareness of the world around her and capitalizing where she saw a hole.
I’ve never really thought about being an entrepreneur either, but the way that Faye conveyed her journey made me rethink my obliviousness. I realized that, at the end of the day, I only have so much time to take advantage of the ideas I have. When I’m young, there’s a lower ‘opportunity cost’ of branching out and trying my own thing. There’s a small window between studying and starting a job that’s the prime time to do an independent project and pursue whatever I’m thinking about. Like Faye, I feel as though once I start working, I won’t be able to break out of that stability. I don’t think that applies to everyone, but it’s a definite obstacle to not seizing the opportunity.
There’s a lot about being an entrepreneur that I realized I find appealing: the autonomy to make one’s own decisions, the freedom to direct your project in a direction that you want and being able to meet remarkable people who can further your business. Probably the most important thing, however, for me was that it’s hard to be bored doing something you love.
Faye took this to the next level by merging Hook Coffee with her passion for environmental studies. This interest manifested during her time in school and she pursued it by taking sustainability and environmental science electives, but was never able to devote enough time to it because it wasn’t ‘stable enough’. But she used her negotiation skills to convince her parents to let her do her Masters in the thing that she loved. Sometimes we’re constricted by our societal expectations, but she emphasized the importance of trying to break out of those roles. You won’t always succeed but trying is really important.
In fact, Faye definitely benefited from both her degrees and what she does now is an amalgam of them. She has launched a successful startup in Singapore with a great emphasis on environmental stability. They now have ‘sustainable coffees’ through the Direct Trade Movement (check it out), which is way more beneficial to the community members who get 10-15% more than Fair Trade members. She actually had a more personal connection to the cause through her fieldwork on the outskirts of Lima focusing on how to help the local communities overcome their environmental obstacles. She said that being on the ground and seeing how things are so different in developing countries like Peru, especially coming from somewhere like Singapore, reinforced her belief in its importance.
Her choice to become an entrepreneur in Singapore despite its risks was shaped a lot by her experiences. It wasn’t something that she spent her entire life thinking about or working towards. Everything just kind of lined up for her and she took advantage of that to create something that she thought would be profitable. But she was able to make it her own thing by mixing it with something that she loved. What I learned from talking to her was that even though most of us think that being an entrepreneur is risky, sometimes it’s the best way for you to pursue something you love and its benefits can outweigh its costs, if only for a short while. It’s all about opportunity.