A BRILLIANT 2021:
UNG YIU LIN
FOUNDER OF ShoesShoesShoe
For the longest time, women have been standing up for each other, from artists like Mexican Painter, Frida Kahlo to Associate of Justice in the Supreme court, Ruth Baden Gindsberg. There are so many inspirations out there that we can barely even count them. And sometimes, because of the distance, we feel that what they can do is not something we can too. So, we want to share some stories with you of women in the ByCanary circle that have inspired us and hope would inspire you too.
We’d like to start the series “Brilliant 2021” with the women we met when we began building ByCanary. They were such an inspiration to us, and we know you’ll love them too. Here’s to you, the woman on the other side of this screen. Wherever you are in life right now, you are amazing; you are strong; you are brilliant.
Introducing our first power woman, the first ByCanary Collaboration (find out more here), and one of the women who wasn’t afraid to go against the grain and take a step into a world that everyone used to believe was only for men. Here’s the story and a few words from Ung Yiulin, An entrepreneur from Malaysia and a Mother of 3 (4 if you include the fur baby).
At the young age of 26, Yiulin decided to make a big change in her career path. Graduating from a Bachelors in Accounting Finance and a Masters in Applied Finance, she decided to enter into the world of Fashion and Retail by starting her very own business ShoesShoesShoes. ShoesShoesShoes was the first Midrange, affordable, shoe brand in Malaysia that catered to the regional market.
“...It was not something that was common back then. It was more than 15 years ago. So it was definitely alarming for people (even my parents).”
How did you know that this is what you want to do?
Yiu Lin: “You know, I think being an entrepreneur there's always that element of risk and there’s only so much research you can do, there’s only so much thinking that you can put into it. At some point, you just need to jump. And I jumped...and jumped at 26. And look at me now, I’m 42, the brand has evolved, and I’ve also grown a lot of other homegrown labels in Malaysia and Regional. I think it’s definitely paid off but obviously it's not without its challenges. Being in the business of fashion is ever changing; it’s constantly pushing the envelope.
It took Yiulin around 2 years to develop her business plan before making that jump. Now her business is able to support her family of 5, her husband, 3 kids, and the dog. There are so many uncertainties when it comes to starting up a business or just changing your direction in life in general, so here are some questions we asked Yiulin, and hopefully these answers give you readers courage to be even more brilliant this 2021.
Did you imagine for yourself to be where you are now?
Yiu Lin: So, a lot of people ask me about being right here right now, being a mom of 3, running multiple businesses, Malaysia and beyond, [covering] various industries that have diversified away from fashion also. No, I don't think I’ve imagined where I’ll be. I’ve constantly mapped my life and put goals ahead of me, short term, middle term, and long term. But you know, you can't flash everything to the tea. Some things give, you know? Some things take you a slight bend to the right or a slight bend to the left. You will never be able to predict it.
But I think what I can offer in terms of advice is that you need to know where you want to go in the long run. What are you looking for? What motivates you? What is your passion? What do you believe is your purpose in life? What drives you? I think, by having a very clear vision on that goal, everything else will come into place, and you know sometimes it also takes patience and constant perseverance for you to get there. So yes, I'm very blessed, I'm very grateful, I'm very happy with where I’m at in my life. But it's also a constant piece of work. So You need to work for it. And when things are not working, you need to analyze it, assess it, sit down, and think about how you can improve it.
What’s the one thing you do in a day that helps you get through everything?
Yiu Lin: The one thing that’ll help me get through the day is definitely these little kids, you know. I look forward to wrapping up my day or leaving an event or finishing up my work to really come home to see these kids, or sometimes I just go ahead and join them wherever they’re at, like a headless chicken running around. But, there’s only 24 hours in a day but I really try to maximize it. If I have little gaps in my schedule, I’ll see what the kids are doing and I’ll go and stop there. The kids you know?
What was your biggest struggle, and how did you overcome it?
Yiu Lin: I think in a person's career or even your journey as an entrepreneur, you go through different challenges along the way. So the bumps are all actually very different. When I first started at 26, the challenge was really to be taken seriously. You know.. “Who’s this young girl at 26 trying to do her own thing? She doesn't come from a fashion background.” I have a bachelor’s in Accounting Finance and a masters in Applied Finance. So the creative type are like “You didn’t go into fashion school, you didn't do anything in shoe design.”
And then I think later on, the challenges were really to balance family life and business and career. So how do you still be a mom? To still be present, to mold these little creatures into purposeful and functional and happy little babes. So I think that was really the challenge that I’m facing up to this day. My youngest child is two, so that's a constant juggling act. And it never is perfectly balanced, there's no such thing. Some days you spend more time with the kids, in some you spend more time at work, it all balances out. You need to know what your priorities are. And for me now, as a 42-year-old with very young kids, my priorities are really my family and my kids, and thank god in my career, I’ve been at this for maybe over 15 years, we’re in a very good place, and I’ve got a great team that supports me
If there’s one thing you’d like to share with the other women in the world, what would it be?
Yiu Lin: All us women, whether we are working women, entrepreneurs, full time housewives, it doesn't matter. You need to prioritize you. And when I say that I mean, you come first. You come first in all aspects because I also believe that a happy you is a happy everyone in your world. So take care of yourself. Spoil yourself. Love yourself.
“. . . So take care of yourself. Spoil yourself. Love yourself.”
Yiulin was one of the first women to work with ByCanary through a collaboration. Check out her collection Yiulin X ByCanary. We worked together to capture her chameleon-like personality to come up with a modular collection that can be a good start in creating your capsule jewelry set. This collection is meant to be more than just a pretty thing to wear. It’s meant to be a reminder that we are strong, we are capable, and we can be anything we want to be. Keep updated with our other inspirations and sign up for the newsletter if you haven’t already.