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INTERVIEW WITH

YAN KAY KAY

Garnering over 23,000 followers on Twitter, model turned fashion entrepreneur Yan Kay Kay now captures the eyes and hearts of many all over Singapore. In January 2011, she launched her very own online business KandyKayne and nine months later in October, proceeded to set up a retail brick-and-mortar of the same name. Just last month, she worked her magic once again with her latest retail baby The Blogshop Paradise. With all this raving success, we finally managed to catch up with this bubbly sweetheart for a short chat in between.


Q: Has business been soaring beyond expectations? Or were you hoping tfor better? Yes, business has definitely surpassed my expectations. Perhaps because I started the store at an opportune time - towards the end of the year is always great as we approach the holidays and festive periods. I didn’t think KandyKayne would fare this well because we’re on the third floor of Bugis Village, on which tenancy isn’t hundred percent yet. I was afraid the crowds wouldn’t venture up to the third floor but I suppose the branding is strong enough for the fans to actually come looking for the unit. I am also proud to say I’ve marketed it sufficiently for the store to hold its own in a highly competitive and saturated (for apparel) shopping district such as Bugis Village. Q: Speaking of KandyKayne, I understand you have an online blogshop of the same name. Why don’t you share with us who or what it was that sparked this entrepreneurial spirit in you? That is correct. My dot com was started at the beginning of this year and the profits from this venture were what enabled me to start a brick-and-mortar.

To be honest, I’ve always wanted to have something to call my own, a business, a company, or an empire (laughs). Ever since I graduated from university, I’ve never worked in a 9 to 5 for an employer. My personality is very strong and I’ve always refused to sway to authority. I’d think it’s this stubbornness that compelled me to start my own business. How was I going to make a living otherwise when I never wanted to work for other people? Q: There are many pressures that come with being a celebrity. What are some of the more prominent types of pressure you face everyday? Hmm. 5 years or more ago, I’d have said criticism. Even now, with all the keyboard warriors hiding anonymously behind their desks, some of the nasty comments I read about smart still, especially when I’m having a bad day/week. But I’ve more or less come to terms with the fact that anyone anywhere can hate you without any apparent reason at all, and there’s more to life than what strangers have to say about you. Now, more relevant in my life would be privacy and sifting the good hearts from the rotten ones.


I do not consider myself a celebrity, but I’d admit there is a substantial number of people who would want to know intimate details of my life, and possibly abuse this knowledge, therefore I go out of my way to keep my personal life private. Tweets on my private affairs are always cryptic, or at least I’d like to think so. Many have tried to get close to me, some with more malicious intent than others, and it’s been stressful to say the least trying to discern the angels from the monsters. Q: Would you say that having a good support network of friends has contributed to your success? Could you name a few of these friends? Beyond the shadow of a doubt, my close friends are indispensable to my life, not just my work or success per se. In good times, they keep me grounded, humble, real, tell me when I’m acting like an ass-crown, and in my dark hours, support me so unconditionally, steady me whenever I waver, boost my confidence and courage when I fear, and they’ve NEVER let me hit the ground. Most of these friends range from being quite to recluse-style private so I won’t name them here, but included in this list are Wendy, Yutaki and Eric names you already know. The love from these people defines the success in my life, not the commas in my bank balance.

Q: You are juggling modeling, hosting Chick vs. Dick on Clicknetwork and now KandyKayne. How do you cope with all these and yet find time for yourself? I hardly model anymore, unless the offer’s too awesome to refuse. Any side modeling I do would be for KandyKayne. Apart from Chick Vs Dick, of which the filming frequency has decreased because Paul’s in NS and I’ve been busy with business, I host a program for the Singapore Turf Club on ESPN. KandyKayne is more or less running on its own, so virtually all my time now is spent on developing new businesses. Currently, I’m up to my forehead in this exciting new venture (The Blogshop Paradise, launched on 15th Dec 2011); it’s a fun retail store with a dream twist, so I’m really looking forward to that. Also on my plate are plans for another business venture, this one is top secret, I can’t share much other than that everything’s coming together nicely. So yeah, I do not have time for myself. Even when I meet my friends for meals, I’m constantly replying emails or talking shop. It’s been pretty boring on the personal front; I’ve become a no-lifer (laughs).

“Blaze your own trail. Following in someone else’s footsteps will only get you as far as he/she did, and you’ll still always be a step behind.”


But I look at the rainbow on the horizon and know that these are all steps I have to take to succeed in the business and hopefully, when my dream empire comes to life, I can then take a long-ass bubble bath in my giant pot of gold (grins).

I wouldn’t say I’ve embarked and traveled on a particular career path. In the past, I didn’t do what I did (modeling, tweeting, blogging, even hosting) because they were my dreams or goals; I did them because they were easy for me and not what I knew I didn’t want (referring to the 9-5 corporate slavery). Q: Looking back at yourself as a little girl, But if I didn’t do all of that, I wouldn’t have the reach would you have ever imagined yourself being or audience that I do today, which is undeniably a famous and constantly under the limelight? huge factor in my successes. No one will ever believe me when I say I was a really shy and quiet child. Teachers would comment that I needed to speak up more in class and adopt a more proactive approach to interacting with my peers. I was always secretly jealous of the outgoing and popular kids who seemed so confident and fearless. Never would have imagined myself being what I am today. Life has a funny way of panning out.

I believe my destiny is in my hands, but because I never intentionally try to shape it, it really seems to me that the stellar opportunities that I didn’t have to fight for and the beyond perfect timings that I never had to plan for, all came together and eventually led me to stumble on this route of honing whatever business acumen I have in me.

Saying I’d rather have adopted another career route Q: What did you really want to be when you would be like wanting to complain about and defy were younger? the forces of the universe (laughs). So yeah, I’m perfectly happy that what I did brought me to what I’m I could lie and tell you some lofty ambition, but truth doing (smiles). is, I read a lot of fiction when I was younger and always imagined myself to be some fantasy character. Q: What do you picture yourself doing in the Was always lost in books and daydreams. Super not next 5 to 10 years ? Any future plans for yourdown to earth then! self and KandyKayne, or perhaps something else altogether? Q: Would you have preferred another career route instead? Or are you already satisfied Luxuriating in my giant bubble bath of gold (laughs). with where you are now? Within the next decade, my wish is that all the businesses I immerse myself in will run by themselves and my dream empire would be churning out more money than I can ever dream of spending on myself.


Then I will devote my time and money to changing the world. I want to finance education projects, sponsor R&D labs, and travel the world to meet geniuses who will blow my mind and fund their dreams (Laughs). These are my dreams. Back here on Earth, I’d want to branch KandyKayne out, to be a more encompassing brand. KandyKayne is my first-ever business venture, and will always be my baby. All the years of education and experience don’t count for It would be just amazing if I can extend the brand much when people are so quick to include men’s (KandyMan) and children’s to form first impressions and (KandyBaby) wear, or even venture into the F&B judge. It’s a sad fact but I think industry! Imagine a chill-out place with alcohol and till the day I lose my looks, people will always take the sweetest desserts called Kandy Bar. me and my credibility with a pinch of salt. Q: Do you find that people take you more se- On the bright side though, it sometimes works in riously now that you are a model-turned-en- my favor because people tend to underestimate me, trepreneur? and this folly on their part has given me all sorts of advantages throughout my life. Pros and cons la! (Laughs) This is a funny question, and one that I can’t answer. Your question is comparative. I’ve got Q: Some wise words from you. What is one nothing to compare with because no one ever took piece of advice you would give to aspiring me seriously! Prior to starting KandyKayne, people entrepreneurs? everywhere took me to be a frivolous model with no substance. Blaze your own trail. Following in someone else’s footsteps will only get you as far as he/she did, and I remember modeling for an event and this guy said you’ll still always be a step behind. to me, “wow, you articulate very well!” when I was just speaking normally. Even now, when I meet new Q: Any last words? people, the look of surprise on their faces when I answer them what I do for a living is unmistakable. Playtime over. I need to get back to my emails.


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