Tjin Lee wasn’t always the savvy, put-together business woman she’s well-reputed for today.
Growing up, she’d often come home with scraped knees from “guppy-fishing” in drains and her teachers said she lacked enthusiasm and drive. The public figure never excelled at numbers and much preferred doodling and roller-skating. Just Google her name and the first couple of searches include “dreamer” in the headline. And she openly admits it.
The second of four girls would never have imagined helming numerous companies and becoming an accidental-entreprenuer and fashion icon.
Besides chairing the highly-anticipated annual Singapore Fashion Week, she’s co-founded CRIB, Trehaus, Baby Style Icon and lends a creative-touch to a plethora of companies and events through her first business, Mercury Marketing & Communications.
As with every successful business, the road was neither straight nor smooth and Lee found her early years of Mercury bumpy and confusing. Along with two ex-colleagues from her first job at Club 21, they pooled their funds together (Lee got her portion by selling a junior club membership she had) to start the business. Today, Mercury’s client’s list spans the spectrum of the luxury industry.
Besides admitting to always having her head in the clouds and not being good with babies (she has two boys, aged 4 and 1), Lee has managed to exude perfection and look amazing while doing it.
Responding to this “Who.What.When.Where.How.Why.” from Trehaus, the co-working space she founded, Lee speaks about being called a bad mother, mistakes made and wanting her boys to grow up quickly.
Before; I was a dreamer and rainbow-chaser who marched to the beat of a different drum.
Now; I’m a storyteller, strategic-thinker, solution-seeker, accidental entrepreneur and uber-creative.
I’m a mother who loves travel & adventure, an events & PR specialist, the founder of CRIB (a social enterprise that empowers women through entrepreneurship), the Chairman of Singapore Fashion Week, an entrepreneur and a social media addict.
I love to create things that I feel should exist in the world.
For example, my family-friendly co-working space Trehaus. Or Baby Style Icon – an online portal that specialises in clothes for baby boys with “swag” (we don’t, after all, want all our boys dresses in Thomas the Tank or Teddy Bears tees!).
I co-founded CRIB on the understanding that SO many women I knew were struggling with a work-life balance – that perpetual dilemma between working full-time and giving up precious time with the kids, or staying home and giving up a career, and sometimes, (losing) sense of self.
I have discovered the path in-between – entrepreneurship allows you to develop your own business, while giving you the flexibility to build your time around your family. I wanted to spread this knowledge and awareness amongst more women and to demystify entrepreneurship. It’s also to create a support network for women-led start-ups.
Most importantly, CRIB is founded on the concept of the “ABC Entrepreneurship” profile – where we believe that one needs A, B and C to succeed as any startup business.
A is for Angels – Everyone needs funds to start a business and a lack of cash-flow can quickly kill a viable fledging business.
B is for Business – Business managers who excel at operations, accounting, logistics, etc.
C is for Creative – These are the idea-people in every business.
This helps our members understand where they are strong, or weak, and what kind of co-founders or partners they could be looking for to complement their strengths.
I’m terrible at math. I made many mistakes as a small company starting up. I accept those mistakes as lessons, and I don’t let it get me down.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, or be demoralised by them. Nobody who is successful today ever got there without making mistakes along the way.
I’ve also been challenged by close family members as a “bad mum”, which was absolutely heartbreaking! I’m not very good with babies (truth!) but I love the bonding with my boys once they’re two and above – when I can tell them stories, lead them on adventures and show them the world.
We all have uniques parenting styles. Don’t let 0ver-critisising or judgemental people affect your sense of self-worth or confidence. The most important thing is to raise happy and healthy children – and to be the best mother you can be.
And stop comparing yourself to anyone else. Everyone’s journey of motherhood is unique!
Because I love what I do.
I love creating new projects, breathing life into companies, working with young people and mentoring start-ups. I love bringing this energy into everything I do, which includes my motherhood adventure!
There’s nothing I love more than being a mum to those two little boys. And I do what I do in the hope that one day I can teach and inspire them, and I can’t wait to have grown-up conversations with them!
Follow Tjin, Bubu & Jake on their wanderlust adventures on IG.
Get in touch with Mercury Marketing & Communications HERE.