My Stories, Uncategorized

BFM Interview – My first radio interview

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Click here for the audio

We came across the radio interview ideas 2 years ago when helping out a BFM presenter restoring his shoes. We did follow up but it didn’t go through.

Fast forward 2 years later, after our aggressive growth in 2018. Our intern Joshua pitched our story to Richard, one of the BFM producer and presenter. We were thrilled to received his email saying he was very much interested in the business idea and wanted to interview us for their Open For Business session.

I thought it would be exciting and easy, as I’ve always been talking about Shoe Mo stories, how our business works – So I was pretty chill at the beginning.

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But I was wrong. When I enter the set and sat down in front of the mic. I felt the pressure. I was nervous even talking about things I talk everyday. If you listen to the interview, you’ll hear my nervousness pretty clear. There were parts that I had to paused (which was removed from the interview) because my head is running ahead of my mouth, the ideas in my head was running to fast for me to verbalize it. Luckily, Jack, my partner, always as chill as he is, has conveyed the message well.

Right after the interview was live, we had inquiry emails coming asking for partnerships and franchise, they also express their admire and interest towards our interview. We are absolutely grateful to have the chance to get such exposure. For my personal learning, that I know I can do better next time.

Onwards and upwards,

Ginny.

 

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My Stories, Uncategorized

Shoe Mo in Indonesia, my thoughts on Retail Operation and Jakarta trip.

Happy New Year 2019! People say New year, new me, I’d say New Year New Shop. Jokes aside, we do have a new shop up and running earlier this month. Shoe Mo Grogol, Jakarta, Indonesia!

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Signage will be up soon! You can find us here:

Shoe Mo Grogol

Jl. Dr. Muwardi I Blok B2 No.26, RT.1/RW.4, Grogol, Grogol petamburan, Kota Jakarta Barat, Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 11450, Indonesia

Biz Hours: Mon-Sun: 11am – 8pm. Tuesdays off. 

Phone: +62 81324752059 | Email: id@myshoemo.com

 

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Side story of Shoe Mo Indonesia. When my partner Jack left KL to relocate in Jakarta in Aug 2018, he told us that he’ll bring Shoe Mo there. Back then I wasn’t so keen on that idea because I do think Shoe Mo HQ (Malaysia) needs a lot of support and attention. So I’d prefer him to stay in KL. Then Shoe Mo Singapore came into the picture, more jobs added to my list. I travelled a lot. Juggling 2 countries and 4 shops wasn’t easy. I didn’t hold much hope to Indonesia as to me it’s a new territory. But one fine day Jack told me he found a decent shop for rent, a local partner to work with and a month later I found myself flying in Jakarta for the opening. Law of attraction some might call it, but kudos to Jack for making this to happen.

I’ve been reflecting recently. The longer I run Shoe Mo, the stronger I believe Operation will make or break your business, especially in the first 1-2 years, no matter how bad/great your business idea is, if you execute it right, the universe will respond. With that belief, I spend 70% of my time on Operational matters, 20% on Marketing, 10% on new business & partnership. I’m not a natural salesperson (I suck at it), I normally just tell people how Shoe Mo runs if I happen to do a mini pitch, and I receive positive feedback most of the time, and they will follow up with “How much to get a franchise?”. Whenever a friend ask for my opinion on their business idea, my first question will be: “How does it work?”. So, I couldn’t emphasize more on the importance of a good operation team.

  • Due diligence: check, check, check and check. Operation works as a whole, once we work on certain part, we need to think on how it effect other parts. When a marketing campaign is implemented, how does the internal work-flow run?
  • Discipline: always give a specific due date for every task, even its small or big, and respect it. We can’t procrastinate in retail business, every day counts, every effort counts.
  • Follow up game strong: We usually get lost in conversation, lots of idea raised but non follow up. A work is done but we don’t take time to learn from it. An unanswered email which is easily to be forgotten. How about an reminder, or a quick call to follow up rather than wait? If we initiate to know, we’ll get the answer we wanted.
  • Organize in idea and execution: always have check list handy. Break your ideas and plans into check list with due dates. Respect the deadlines. Follow up if you have no answer. Trust me things will run faster that way.

Ok so that’s enough of work stuff, I have different view on Jakarta this time, being able to explore a bit and see more of the city. I’m amazed by how big the city is (even tho I’m always know it’s huge). I secretly compared Jakarta to Ho Chi Minh city because I used to out HCMC and JKT to the same level of development, but boy I was wrong. Infrastructure is better, roads are still jammed but quite in better condition vs HCMC, more international brands, better malls, food is averagely cheaper, coffee is good too!

Had a change to visit GoJek HQ too. It’s really amazing how GoJek takes over the market and change Indonesian lives.

Was a fun time, Jakarta. Thanks to my boyfriend Ryan, to accompany me during the trip, be my food buddy and translator too 😀

Onwards and upwards,

Ginny.

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My Stories, Uncategorized

2018 Highlights

It will be redundant to start the recap by saying, it’s been a hectic year. In fact my pass few years have been a roller coaster. A quick flashback:

2016

Packed up 10 years of life in HCMC to 3 luggages, left family, friends and job behind to relocate to KL for a job offer – which turned out not to me the right one for me. Started Shoe Mo with Jack.

2017

Incorporated Shoe Mo Sdn Bhd, full time job day time, clean shoes night time. Managed to open our very first outlet in Damansara Utama. Licensed Shoe Mo to Johor Bahru.

2018 – Shoe Mo takes off aggressively & becomes regional brand.

Feb – Shoe Mo got investment and I quit my job to work full time in Shoe mo.

March – Opened Shoe Mo Sunway

April – Licensed Shoe Mo to Penang

Jul – Shoe Mo Bangsar

Aug – Licensed Shoe Mo to Brunei

Nov – Took over Shoelution and rebranded to Shoe Mo Singapore

Nov – Licensed Shoe Mo to Miri, East Malaysia

Dec – Shoe Mo Velocity (First mall outlet) supposed to be open but delay until Q1 2019 due to mall procedures.

2019

Working toward sustainability for Malaysia, Singapore and expansion to Indonesia.

2018 marks a different year of my life. I quit my job to focus on Shoe Mo whole heartedly. I’ve never been this focused before. I truly taste the sweetness and bitter of entrepreneurship journey – the late night discussions, the struggles with finances, the effort to fix problems, the happiness seeing my brand grow.

Shoe Mo team has been in its biggest size ever – 20 members across 2 countries. The team is still young, but diversified with different races and nationality. I see them grow by solving problems everyday, and learning from each other. I wish I can guide them more, sometimes I feel bad about it.

I have switched my roles eventually from being more hands on to shop operation, to be more of planning and overall supervision. I realize I need to grow, together with Shoe Mo, to be able to accommodate its scale. I need to shift my focus to what make sense, not in one day, but in months or years later. I learnt how to let go, and accept and let my team handle it. I’m glad that the operation team has learnt how to clean shoes better than me, shop managers take better care of the shop and upsell better than me, Marketing team has respond to customer message faster than me, management team has more product and legal knowledge than me. I’m so happy and thankful for my team that I can have more room the breath but I need to self-improve and grow in order to be able to lead them.

People say if you don’t take loan or mortgage, you’re not fully entrepreneur yet, and for the first time, we took loan to facilitate our fast growth rate. I realized we grow too fast and it gets scary. So next year’s top goal is to sustain shoe mo as a whole, and subtly expand to Indonesia.

Maybe because I’m approaching my 30s soon, so I get more and more paranoid over safety and health concern. I started to commit to workout routine (still not very consistent), monitor my sleep and heart rate, be choosy on what I ate (still lots of KOI and Gongcha tho), and be concerned on my mental wellness.

And 2018 has witnessed a closure of a relationship, and an opening of a new one. I’m grateful for what has happened and I’m excited for whats waiting ahead. One told me “I don’t think relationship can be “solved” or “figured out” – it’s a WIP”. I couldn’t agree more. It is constant effort and I am still learning everyday. And I know I am not the easiest to handle type of girl (lol). Thank you for being patient and making things work with me, you know who you are.

To 2019, I can’t promise a less happening year, but I have a feeling it will be a good one. I only have one personal goal for 2019 – 2 litre of water, 8 hours of sleep and work out!

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Onwards and Upwards,

Ginny.

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My Stories, Uncategorized

My Unglamorous Journey of Entrepreneurship

As Shoe Mo celebrated its 2 year anniversary, I feel the urge of sharing the things I don’t normally share. What people see of Shoe Mo’s success via my social media is the tip of the iceberg and I am gonna share a bit of what’s under the water. 

I stress, and stress a lot.

Everyone stresses out here and there, but entrepreneurship stress is another level. I actually think its a combination of work stress, life crisis and frustration for me.

At the start, I believe most of the companies suffer from cash flow – either we don’t have enough cash flow or we don’t know how to manage it. In our case – both. Me and my partner started from 0 knowledge about SME finances (we do know about business management and organization, but when it comes to finance, we cringe) – we keep the books by ourselves and it is nowhere near to what’s required for a Private Limited company. Invoices are lost, unsettled, unclassified, sales receipts are everywhere. Then the payday comes, we prayed that we have enough money to pay our staff, pay the bills and keep the business going for another month. There were days where we had to pump in a bit of our pocket money, and a lot of hope (lol).

In early 2018 (1 year after we started) we got our very first investment – very humble amount, trust me no where near 6 figures. I quit my job to do Shoe Mo full time. Back then I thought giving up my job at Grab to move to KL for a start up job was crazy enough – but no, quitting a full time visa sponsored job to start a business in a foreign country is off level crazy. It’s like jumping off the cliff then start making my own airplane on the way falling down, hoping the airplane work before I hit rock bottom (trust me I’m still falling and still building). Some mornings I wake up feeling dull, I wonder what if we run out of money, what if there are no more customers and most of all – am I doing the right thing for my life. Have I mentioned my pay cut 40%? Imagine having your current pay cut almost half, and you have a business to run and personal bills to pay. Yay.

I have stressed out so much that brain subconsciously brings it to my dream – every week I would have the dreams of me struggling to get on a flight: forget my passport, traffic jam, legs cannot move and tons of things stopping me from getting on the plane. It means that I constantly worry about what I cannot achieve and the fear that my life will become a mess.

As a consequence, my grey hair has tripled over the past few months, I lost weight (which is good) and gain more eye bags.

What is social life?

This is just my personal experience, my life routine is super simple now. I wake up, check my messages and emails, then I cook, I go to work/ meetings, I go back home, I work some more, then I sleep. In between those days are the work trips, scheduled gym sessions. Then it repeats. For the past few months we have been growing aggressively – in 2018 alone we have open 6 new outlets and one more to come in Dec. I’m all over the places – KL, Brunei, Singapore, East Malaysia, Vietnam. There are months that I fly every week. I usually eat alone, I don’t have much friends in KL and being busy doesn’t help. Shopping is a luxury of time and money which I don’t have much. 

Heres a photo of me with huge sleep deprived eye bags when our Bangsar shop first opened

e91ea86e-ea2d-4afd-9f35-997235df982eThat’s me unglamorously fixing signage for Singapore outlet and ended up cutting my finger.

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There are more lows than I could tell you. I definitely don’t look happy and smiling all the times as the photos I usually shared. My “social life” maybe is from the periscope of IG and Facebook.

Threats and dangers

I don’t mean the extreme version of business – or gangsters here but there are things that we normally don’t thank about. If you travel once or twice per month, your risk is low. If you start traveling and flying every week, you kinda pray that your plane land safe every single time – I got paranoid over all the plane crash headlines so I kinda check the compass during my flight to make sure the plane is going to the correct direction – it sounds silly I know, I just can’t help it. And those Grab rides late nights, the people we meet and have to handle. Further more, I’m not the local. There could be god-know-what reasons they can have to give trouble to me and the company. As they said: the bigger ship, the bigger storm.

Opportunity cost

So they said “Either you build your own dream or people hire you to build their dream”. But trust me first few years of “building your own dreams” doesn’t give you the best bank account statement. Looking back if I still keep my job, polish up my CV, return to Vietnam, I might get high paid job considering all my expat experience. Or even another expat job in another country. This is the cost most of people don’t see. If you do a simple math, how much can you save a year with that gap of a salary – and how much struggle you have now doing your own thing without that saving. The answer might keep a lot of people from quitting their jobs to follow their dreams, I bet.

Psychological price

I love to share the good things but hardly share the stress and struggles that I have. Why? I trained myself to be tough, I weigh my options, I put thoughts and ration into every decision I made – I believe that start-up is not democracy – everyone has a role to play but not everyone is at the same level of experience and the know-hows. So someone has to have the cold head, wearing the “bad boss hat” and policing around to make sure everything move and move forward. I don’t want to show vulnerability because I’m used to not showing it, I somehow build a wall around me to prevent people trespassing to my vulnerable zone. So people around me found it hard to know what’s going on in my head, and then I failed to share it because I really don’t know how, I have never been a verbal person when it comes to feelings. So here and there, I feel lonely and unheard. 

So you might ask – then why are you doing this?

My honest answer is: Because I’m already too deep into it haha. But I do feel the potential in it and as you can see, Shoe Mo is taking off. We’re now in 3 countries with 9 outlets, in less then 2 years’ time. We want to build a brick and mortar business that lasts for at least a generation.

Then what can I do?

I rarely complain about work or blame it. I’m trying to be mindful that I’m under all this pressure everyday – I try to work less hours, sleep earlier and exercise more often. I keep track of my sleep, my heart rate and my diet. I try learning how to express appreciation in words, be less harsh to myself and delegating more task to my team. I hope to learn and practice more mindfulness to seek for inner peace. I hope to take down whats walling up around me, and open up to the one that cares for me. And I hope I can build that airplane before I hit the bottom. 

Onwards and Upwards,

Ginny.

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Uncategorized

New signature Shoe Mo outlet

It’s a long delay blog, since our Bangsar outlet has been open for 1 month. But now I finally got time to pen down my thoughts.

When Jack said let’s open in Bangsar, I was excited, yet nervous. Bangsar is known to be the one of most expensive area in KL with cut throat rental. It took us a few months to look for location, with a rental that we can afford.

I think we got lucky to get this unit open for rent. The first moment I saw it, I felt in love with these mirror and windows and the natural light that gives life to the space.

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But it’s like, empty – no AC, broken wiring, damage floor. Lots of work need to be done. But loving it so much, we decided to take it. And all I remember is late night discussion on the design, lots of Ikea trips to fill in the furniture, tons of no-name tasks to get it all set up and done.

And finally, we made it.

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It teaches me a big lesson on how to set up retail business – lots of hard work and patience, detail oriented is a MUST. You cannot afford to make mistake because it will cost you twice to fix. Don’t compromise on the workmanship – it has to be good.

I’m lucky to work with dedicate interior designer to fit the design to our budget. And follow up with each and every single details, from M&E to flooring, to even help clean the mirror. Even when we have to cut the counter into half, to be able to carry it upstairs!

After Bangsar outlet completed and in operation, we got a lot of partnership enquiries. This is like a level up in our game, we are taken more serious now. Definitely a step up!

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Here’s to more and more milestones!

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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