My Stories

Shoe Mo’s first overseas expansion!

Earlier this month, Shoe Mo’s first overseas expansion was confirmed! We’re officially a regional brand! I’m definitely excited and proud of the team work.

Now I’m gonna bombard you lots of photos I took from the trip.

Checking out the location

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Technical Training

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Setting it up! Almost there!

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It is also the most efficient work trip of mine. Lots of training, business discussion, site checking – realize I love to set things up and give advice on operation process. I feel energetic and excited whenever I can share how to run Shoe Mo shops, because I’ve been through it and I do believe in our system and processes can save our partners a lot of headache running this type of business.

It was also my first trip to Brunei – interesting to learn about the country’s culture and lifestyle.

1. Lots of big and beautiful mosques. And there are not much of tall building as no buildings are allowed to be taller than the mosque. So I wonder why they don’t just put a mosque on the top of a building haha problem solved.

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2. Malls are small and old school. And it’s hard to find authentic shoes.

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3. Sunset from Empire Hotel is a must see. Lovely and romantic. Perfect to unwind.

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4. Japanese food is cheap and good. There are not much of local cuisine. Or maybe I didn’t explore hard enough.

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Looking forward to more expansion. We have a few down the line, fingers crossed!

Onwards and Upwards,

Ginny.

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My Stories, Uncategorized

What tortures me the most?

Probably repetition – things repeat themselves without any changes.

When I was still in HCMC back then, I constantly changed jobs, 4 companies in 5 years. Well it sounds wrong but I always knew I can’t stick one place for so long, part of the reason is that I know I’m still young and there are plenty of things to try out. I felt the urge of newness here and there – New hairstyle after a couple of months, went to new places every year, met as much of new people as I can. I feel like I constantly in search something new that excites me. I still remember those days when I ran out of things to do, or money to do the things I want, so I just laid there on my bed looking at the ceiling feeling this nervousness eating me inside out – my life is so boring, I am boring, what do I do next? That feeling wasn’t easy to handle.

I decided to move to KL for that simple reason. I felt bored. I wanted to leave the city. The unknown was scary, yet damn exciting. The struggles were real in the new country when you don’t really have the citizen benefits, I always feel out of place, I don’t belong to anywhere, not in my own country, and obviously not in the new country. But, again, the unknown kept me going. I felt this strong power that I can, finally, have the chance to build and lead something my way. I can fix things and make things better. I celebrate (with myself) improvement and changes everyday, like my whole life depends on it.

And yes, my life depends on that kind of belief – that I can create changes and my life doesn’t repeat itself.

If someone asked me what I’m passionate about, I’d say “changes” or better word – “improvements” – I’m better today than I was yesterday – and I will thrive every single day for that.

Onwards and upwards,

Ginny.

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Featured Articles, My Stories, Uncategorized

Shoe Mo goes North

On this day one year ago, me and Jack was painting our first Shoe Mo shop in Petaling Jaya.

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27 Apr 2017, Petaling Jaya

Today, we’re celebrating our 5th stores in Malaysia, Shoe Mo Penang! (Now I can visit Shoe Mo Penang, and get myself some nice char kway teoh!)

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27 Apr 2018 – George Town, PG

No stories can cover all that has happened in the past 1 year, we are expanding and growing, left and right, up and down (of Malaysia). Also, our first product line – shoe cleaner and shoe brush have been produced and on the shelves! Get yourself some here.

Our team has grown from 2 to 12 members, part timer and full timers!

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Team gathering in Apr 2018

I feel excited and nervous as always, for whatever may come.

Onwards and Upwards,

Ginny.

 

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My Stories

Quitting my job for my own start-up. Here’s what I learnt after 1 month.

Yes I know, the tittle does sound like Buzz Feed. 

1. Grass isn’t greener on the other side, in fact, there is no grass. 

Just mud, and a lot of late nights.

The idea of quitting your job, jumping on to the entrepreneur ship and sail to the “promised” island of big fortune is very very sweetening.

I was never a person who dreamt to build a multi-million company, well, it might have crossed my mind but I know, behind the success was sweat and blood, and those aren’t fun. Before I quit, I was doing Shoe Mo part-time, in the mean time trying to catch up with my planned marketing career path. That was tough— sunlighting during the day and moonlighting during the night, constant lamb on your desk, laptop screen flicking at late nights. Yet I found out that after quitting my full time job to focus on Shoe Mo, it’s even harder.

I feel alone (my co-founder hasn’t joined full time yet), I feel the burden of everyday no-name tasks together with the big goals to achieve, who would do financial projections and would also fix the broken lock in the office. I guess it’s me and also me(at the moment).

I wanted to stop. Wouldn’t it be much less headache if I continue to pursuit my career, working from 9-5 and have more time enjoying life? I wouldn’t thought of giving up my own new business until I put both of my feet into it, how ironic is that? Well, it happened, and I know it would happen again.

2. My temper gets better, and worse, but I’m fully aware when I’m getting a temper.

I’m known for my hot head and short-temper, it would not get any better after all this. But I’m glad that I realized when it’s okay to let go of your temper and when it’s not wise to mess things up. I learnt it hard way, both personal life and business life. I would say I become much much more chill than I used to be, and I know it’s a big personal improvement.

Even so, I’m still pretty much suffering from refraining myself, so I keep telling myself emotions are just feedbacks, they are not the solution. Running a team base on emotions is the first mistake to make.

3. Decisions should be made with sufficient data.

When you’re hands on to your business operation, it is extremely to make decisions based on small incidents, because it’s easy to rationalize it. Well, everyone wants to improve things, and improving starting from the smallest things — which I totally agree. Yet, in such a starting phase, we wouldn’t afford to improve everything, prioritizing is key. And how do we know which to prioritize? Based on data. Survey, finance statement, feedbacks, records. I wouldn’t change my whole operation model because 1 or 2 customer made a bad review on it, in fact I carry on customer feedback survey to justify the problem, to understand how bad the situation was, and then we prioritize and take actions.

4. Everyone has role to play. Someone has to be not nice.

I used to wonder how society works. Creator, builder, innovator, motivator, maker, facilitator, connector. It’s mesmerizing. Like looking at a bunch of ants busy doing the job they are destined to do, probably they are not even aware of it.

One significant thing I realized is that most of the time people want to be perceived as nice and amiable by everyone they meet. “He/she’s a nice guy/girl” probably the most soothing compliment everyone wants to hear about themselves. The more educated we are, the more “polite” and “mind-our-own-business” we tend to be. More often than not, we avoid confrontation and speak up for what we believe. We don’t want to be blatant. We avoid awkwardness. But business is blatant and full of awkward moments, lots of mistakes to be addressed, lots of deals to be shamelessly asked for.

I and Jack always have to play good cop bad cop all the time, and I always get the bad guy role to play (ugh). And I got used to it. Having my bad cop hat with me all the time, in case someone has to speak up for righteousness.

5. Not everyone is a suitable one, let them go.

When Shoe Mo was super small and just started, we appreciate all the help we can have, we have early batch of employees that join us since the very beginning. We hope them to be the team pillars when we grow stronger and bigger.

But not all is suitable or ready to move on to the next level, when we grow bigger, having more outlets, some staff won’t keep up with the workload, some split out to run their own similar business, some cheated the shop money. We have learnt a lot, in a hard way but as Jack said, we find it out the sooner the better.

Onwards and Upwards,

Ginny.

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My Stories

How we founded Shoe Mo.

Shoe Mo is a shoe/sneaker laundry and services based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I met Jack through a friend of a friend 3 weeks after I arrived in Kuala Lumpur, we had lunch in Bangsar and became friends since. One day after we finished our Sunday run in Lake Garden, I asked Jack where I can find a place to get my sneakers cleaned in KL. Jack seemed hesitate then the answer popped out from him, surprised me. “Malaysians don’t wash their shoes”.

Then I told Jack how I would send my sneakers to service to clean in Vietnam and how cheap that was. “Let’s do it” — Jack told me.

I lost counting how many Youtube videos and Google Know-hows we’ve watched on cleaning sneakers, we experimented on our own sneakers in our kitchens and bathrooms with a mess of cleaning products and tools, we even tried the washing machine and dryers (Trust me, don’t do that, ever) to realise that it is the most stupid thing you can do to your sneakers. We came up with a name Shoe Mo (Mo stands for Maestro, aka Master). Our facebook page was set up within one afternoon in November 2016 with a simple blue logo.

Here’s our first big order, a client sent us 11 pairs of his collection

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And Jack experiment cleaning shoes in his bathroom.

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At the time, we had no idea on how to price our service so we just put a random amount (RM10) to test out the market. The price was very minimal and we offered door to door pickup and delivery service included. Obviously that was a lost to us. The few first orders came from Jack’s friends. Eventually shoes started to come to us, suede, leather, nubuck, canvas, converse, walking shoes, slippers, even huge boots like Timberlands or expensive french-made leather shoes. To us that was a huge learning curves on how to operate a service and make it our most valuable asset. Our marketing was very minimal, I would go and listed Shoe Mo every market place I came across with, then we started to get orders from strangers, one guy from Mudah.my, others from Carousell, another one from Instagram, someone found us on Google, a recommended client from another client, and so the name of Shoe Mo started spreading.

From a few pairs per week to a few pairs per day, me and Jack would rush home after work to wash shoes and spent our weekend experimenting on new ideas and services (Jack’s house would smell like shoes when orders came in). We launched new service as sneaker repainting to solve the problem of the yellowing. We also learnt how to get the pricing right and eventually minimize the delivery work.

When we first put Shoe Mo out for online ads, I remembered waking up the morning after freaking out, messages flooded our facebook page inquiring for services. Our page traffic increased +1000% overnight, followed by the nonstop cleaning shoes days to fulfill the market needs. Me and Jack are also glad to have Frank on board, Frank used to be our client but soon he realised Shoe Mo’s potential so he asked to join us even though he’s still at school. Frank and Jack would run back and forth to get shoes cleaned and returned to clients on time. We made a fair bit of profit, we had good reviews and enormous support from our clients, we had partners reaching out to us for corporations. We decided to take Shoe Mo to the next level.

Our first workshop in Damansara Uptown, Petaling Jaya.

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After 6 months of working hard and holding on, we officially get Shoe Mo first workshop open for walk-in customers.I feel extremely emotional on this turning point of our brain child. We could have quitted when the days get long and tiring, when we had to say no to hangouts and personal plans to settle the orders on time, we could have quitted when we kept losing money at the beginning, when our fingers were all dirty and stained, I could have quitted when I feel lonely and home-sick in a foreign country. We are no rich kids playing entrepreneurship. We struggle everyday to balance our full time work and cleaning shoes, at the same time bootstrapping Shoe Mo, and make it a real sustainable business.

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This milestone does not only marks the official launch of Shoe Mo, it’s the beginning of a new, habit changing service to the young modern generation and we proud to be one of the very first trendsetters in town. Shoe Mo team is eager to improve and innovate ourselves to bring the best service as we could.

I’d like dedicate this small success to my boyfriend, Andrik, who has been unconditionally supportive despite my busy schedule and short temper.

My great gratitude to Jack, Shoe Mo co-founder for taking this journey with me. And Andrik my boyfriend who has helped to set a smooth sail for Shoe Mo.

My deepest thanks to Frank, Ammar for being with us through the early days.

To my best friend, Cheryl, my supporting pillar and sharing shoulders.

To friends and family back home.

Ginny.

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My Stories

About focus, discipline and determination.

The past 2 years have been real a adventure. I’ve had 4 jobs, made 18 trips, moved 3 times in the span of 24 months. I barely remember how time flied that quickly, I was always on the move.

20 years ago I probably was sitting under the longan tree playing with grass waiting for my cousin to pick fresh laid chicken eggs. 5 years ago I was a fresh grad, struggling for a job and fighting for who I wanted to be. 2 years ago, I doubted the decisions I’ve made, I questioned myself on my life purpose. Now I’m in another country far away from my little home town, sitting in a high rise of a big business complex where memories of chicken farm and longan trees seems vague and distant.

Time flies. I’ve gone so far. What’s next?

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The fact of me taking risks brings me far in life, at least further than what a 7 year old girl in the chicken farm could imagine. I never question my resilience and ability to learn to adapt. Yet I get scared recently when I wake up. The sense of belonging strikes harder than before. I doubt my existence, and what I call mine.

I’m determined. My mind hardly switches off when I set it up for something. I’m good at short term goals. Yet I realised what I lack of is a bit of patience and a lot of discipline. The more I live the bigger challenge I face and the greater courage it takes. Life goal now isn’t getting a job or buying a new phone, and is less of the tangibles. Making changes, being influential, making mental and physical wellness affordable, sense of achieving and ultimately, peace in mind — those cannot be achieved within a short period of time. Being constantly on the move doesn’t help. Being spontaneous doesn’t help. Being easy to myself is definitely not going to help.

Moving forward to the new year, I expect no great achievement, no big adventure but the ability to settle my focus to the bigger goal, work hard with discipline and determination towards a better future.

And as always, a little of faith helps.

2017, you’re now welcome.

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My Stories

Life as a hike

Hiking intrigues me always — the concept of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, going out of your usual way up to new challenge, with one single ultimate goal: selfie at the top of the mountain.

But if you look at life itself, it’s pretty much a hike.

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View on the way downhill — Chua Chan Mountain, May 2016

We all start off eagerly, curiously, eyes wide open, touch everything on our way, laugh and talk to our companion. At first it’s all easy and we are full of energy. But soon enough we will complain on the rocky way, the steep muddy trail, the. We’ll need some break. The mosquitoes bother us. We sweat, we curse more frequently, starting to question why do we have to do what we are doing. We question ourselves, then we question our companion, whose idea was it? Yet we are hopeful, and full of faith that we can make it. “It will be worth it”, “The view will be amazing” — those thoughts keep our legs moving.

Then we make it. We are standing on top of the hill, panting, smiling. We hug and share joys, and of course, we take plenty of photos of us standing with our arms and mouth wide open. We stay for half an hour and start to think, this is it, this is what I came for. Now what.

We have to go down, and our legs are tired, we’ll need some stick to help us walk. We try not to slide, we are focus, we don’t talk to people around as we did. We don’t wait, we want to get down as quick as we can. Sometimes we look back, seeing the top for the last time. Now we don’t look around, mosquitoes don’t really bother us anymore — too many bites, we couldn’t care less. We run out of energy for jokes or even swearing. We lay down anywhere we can, still cursing, but only in our heart. We accept the fact that this was our choice. As soon as we reach the ground, we’ll find ourself sleeping like a baby on the bus back.

Yes. We all look forward to reach the top, but we only spend 1/12 of our time actually be on the top. Then when we wake up the next morning, the view on the top will be blurry, but the times we slipped, the remaining itchiness of mosquito bites, the bruises and the pain in your thighs are…crystal clear. Someone said happiness is a journey. I would say, happiness is IN the journey. Goals are set to achieve, yet embrace the journey to success. You’ll remember that the most on your rocking chair.

Peace out,

Ginny.

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My Stories

Busy Mind and How To Focus

If my thoughts can speak, they would buzz like a crowded nest of wasp.

We expose ourselves to all kinds of information everyday, and our brain is the only organ that re-arranges and sorts out those pieces of information. Thoughts occur as the consequences of the arranging process. Our brain is the intersection of scattered thoughts running wildly in those tiny bone frame. More often than not we’ll get that “traffic jam” where current thoughts and new information meet, even the past thoughts come to join the party when we need to connect the dots.

I found myself extremely hard to focus in one thing at a time. Especially I’m the perceiving type of personality — which means I tend to forecast and think ahead of time. This trait has saved my life many times from awkward and unpredicted situations (because basically I think of all situations that could happen beforehand), but at the same time wasting my time and kill my current joy. Long before I didn’t know this part of mine, and I had been suffering from it for a while, I couldn’t be truly happy for the moment as in my head the fear of unseen future, fear of failure and abandonment keeps me awake and alert all the time.

So as I realized I need to work on that.

  1. I force myself to put down a to-do-list, from big events to small tasks like making a short call or buy errands.
  2. I use Calendar more. Scheduling my day will help me calculate how much time I have on the day, then set time for certain tasks.
  3. Phone faced down. Messages are distracting. Finish whatever you are doing first, check your phone later.
  4. Keep notes of my current project. At first this took me sometimes to get used to, but since I have so many projects going on and each of them requires a list of tasks such as numbers, reports, comments, I hold back a bit before jumping into another task to update necessary information to my Notes. And it saved me tons of time when I need to get back to that project later on, no more searching my inbox for information.
  5. Set a physical challenge: swim 5 rounds in a row, run for 15 mins, hike up a hill, etc.
  6. Set mental challenge: reading non-stop in 30 mins, play 5 mind games continuously, talk to a friend on a phone with no other distraction.
  7. Listen to music: recently I’m loving Spotify’s playlist “Stay Sharp” — a list of electric music that helps to boost your ability to concentrate.
  8. Pause. Before starting to think about something, I take a short break for 1–2 minutes to get rid of the previous thoughts, and most importantly, to shake off emotions. Nothing affects your mind as emotions, so to be able to think clear and straight, better get them out of your head.

Those are what I did to keep balance, how about you? Leave me a comment and let’s discuss!

Ginny.

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My Stories

Here’s to a better self

I picked up blogging around one year ago, at first it was just a way to release feelings and emotions. I have never thought of myself as a good writer, neither do I think I would public my blog one day. However, as a human being, I want my voice to be heard and emotions to be felt. The more I grow up, the more I need to put power in what I say and become considerate of how I behave and comment. Then writing came up in my mind as a perfect way to practice logically organizing my thoughts.

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The sky is the limit. Taken in Singapore in Feb’16.

So these days I have been thinking about what changes I have been through. So many. But basically he biggest thing is growing up. And learn how to deal with solitude. Here’s what I’ve learn in the past year:

1. Solitude is a bless. It gives you time and energy to focus in what you want to achieve in life. I never disregard the importance of relationship and very often I feel desperate for warm loving hugs. Relationship is a goal too. I agree. Just need to complete myself first before getting in to a serious one.

2. Mono-tasking is a skill. People talks about multi-tasking like it’s a basic skill, but trust me, it’s time to mono-tasking. Focus one thing at a time. Staying laser focused is a skill. One by one. Things can get in line, jumping from task to task without finishing them does more harm than good.

3. Build your brand image. I manage to speak less but smarter on social networks. But also be genuine of who I really am.

4. Knowledge is powerful. I schedule time to read news everyday, prepare myself for deep intellectual discussion with potential employers/partners or even to have a topic to talk to on my dates. Smart women always impress.

5. Keep kind people around. Make effort to keep in touch with friends. It soothes your soul knowing someone still care and back you up.

6. Time management is crucial. Someone told me “Your time on Earth is the most valuable thing” — I learn to schedule time for daily tasks, even small chores as running errands or writing down how much money I spend for the day. Prioritize them. The purpose is to maximize my day.

7. Exercise. To keep a healthy mind we need a healthy body. Great leaders exercise. It’s time to stop making excuses.

All for the better,

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