At 34, Jaren Ho has been running her own businesses for 13 years. The founder of local label Yacht 21 tells us how she went from reading engineering in university, to hawking knick-knacks at school bazaars, to setting up a wacky traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)-themed label, then a shop called Hurs, before she finally founded Yacht 21 and fine-tuned the formula for its success.
Her foray into the business world started in university when she sold handmade traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) accessories to keep her cancer-stricken best friend from dwelling on the disease. Jaren Ho, now 32, realised she was a natural entrepreneur and started her own cruisewear label Yacht 21 in 2009.
What started as a retail dream has turned into an omni-channel retail. With the rise of mobile e-commerce, YACHT 21 managed to capture the heart of many customers by channelling their brand online. In addition, re-creating the boutique at Wheelock Place gives customers a brand new shopping experience.
Ms Jaren Ho, 34, the founder of apparel brand Yacht 21, said the GSS was not doing enough to attract the millennials via social media such as Instagram.
“You look at the crowd going to Art Box. GSS or not, people still want to shop, come out and spend money, but the concept needs to change. Renaming the whole thing might help. Or use another approach,” said Ms Ho, who suggested taking a “more lifestyle approach”.
I was the ordinary ‘girl next door’ who grew up in an average Singaporean family, went to school, and hung out with friends. Nothing special. I grew up following the system because that’s how things work, right?
I was someone with no passion. Most of the decisions I made growing up were not what I wanted, I just followed what I was told. I did not have the courage to fight for what I love or want in life. That was until I turned 21 in 2005.
It was a sudden ‘oh crap, what am I doing with my life’ moment that finally pushed me to leave my comfort zone. It was a scary decision to make, but I decided to quit engineering school to embark on a path less travelled. My parents were mad that I gave up my place in a reputable local university to pursue my dream job in retail and fashion.
As I went on in this pursuit, I found my passion in life and for life. I was no longer living in the shadow of other people, but living my own life to the fullest. My passion for fashion began to grow as well. I saw the need to differentiate my business by creating in-house collections, so I taught myself to become fashion designer.
Today, I’m running my own fashion label YACHT 21, with a team of young passionate ladies. Like me, they started from scratch without any fashion background, creating magic with me every single day.
Many of us have big dreams that we end up never chasing, only ending up finding a job that matches our degrees, then getting married and building our own families. Conventionally, this is ‘the path to happiness’. But as a business owner, I can hardly keep up with that belief when most of my time is spent hustling.
Not ‘conforming’ to the conventional path to happiness has made me question what happiness is sometimes. It’s hard to see what happiness is when there are no other ‘examples’ out there. And we fear the unknown because what we don’t know, we fantasize. And what we fantasize scares us even more. And perhaps it’s the underlying fear of being unhappy that scares us away from our passion and dreams.
It’s almost like there’s a ghost within us. A ghost that scares us into following conventions; that stops us from living life to the fullest. But everyone has their own unique path to happiness. We just have to deal with the ghost within us."
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TODAY: What are the differences between millennial and traditional leadership?
Change is what makes millennial generation and traditional leadership styles different. I respect traditional leaders for their authenticity because many of them set the standards and built a system from scratch. Jaren Ho tells TODAY.
Caption: Young local designers are making waves and getting a lot of attention for their quirky designs with a local twist. Born &Raised Founder, Watson Lee shares about his efforts to showcase the work of local designers and artists with founder of Yacht21 Jaren Ho and Alvin Chan, founder/maker of Concrete Everything. They talk about the efforts of young Singaporeans to find a niche of their own competing with commercial clothes, bags and accessories from around the world.
Caption: Womenswear brand Yacht 21's Jaren Ho believes that having creative concepts can help the label stay afloat.
Asian Entrepreneur: Callum Connects with Jaren Ho, Founder of YACHT 21
A self-taught fashion designer, Jaren Ho is now designing classy, yet casual cruise wear.
Caption: Check out Yacht 21 Singapore, which has anchored themselves in Wanderlust Hotel, from 25-30 July 2014.