Entrepreneurial Lessons from my Wife @pattyinnit

posted on July 20, 2017

I’m not sure how many of you know this. But my wife, Patty is an Entrepreneur. She designs and runs (along with her sister, Furn) her own fashion label, innitBangkok which recently launched a retail store in Singapore @ 13 Ann Siang Road.

We met in Bangkok on one of my sourcing trips for Jipaban.com, my failed e-commerce business (I always like to say, she was my only but rewarding return from a failed investment).

Besides finding her cute, it was also her entrepreneurial flair and charisma that attracted her to me. I totally bought into her thoughts about business, especially on the creative front. And it was apparent how much passion she had for creating designs for the everyday girl, as she saw herself.

I’ve had the privilege of bearing witness to innitbangkok’s rise, and whilst I do not agree with everything they do, there is clearly a method to their madness, a prime example of which, I will be highlighting in this post.

To Be or Not to be (Hands-On)

Patty and her sister Furn are super hands on Entrepreneurs and when I say this, I mean on a totally different level.

There is a psuedo slogan that they use in store, and it reads, “Handmade, Heartmade.”

One might think, the “Handmade” part is the relevant bit, and the “Heartmade” bit is marketing fluff, but I asssure you, it is perhaps more true than the former.

Having had more free time after my departure from Netccentric, I had a chance of playing dutiful husband and helping with preparations for her Singapore shop.

Every inch of it has her mark, and her personal involvement. Allow me to show you.

These changing rooms … one might imagine hiring a contractor to get it done. That’s what I would do. And for me, it is a simple cost-benefit analysis, which would also include a lack of general DIY skills.

Nope, thats not how these changing rooms came about. The fabric for the curtains, were sourced by Patty from the Bangkok fabric market after getting measurements. Then yours truly, lugged it to her car, and at night drove to the outskirts of the city to her seamstresses, where she instructed them how she wanted it done.

Afterwards, she carried it back in her check in luggage, and personally hung it on the railing, which were incidentally also sourced from Bangkok

The carpets, she sourced locally, and the mirrors she custom ordered. There is not a single element here that has not had her personal touch or engagement.

Even in this scene … the clothes railings, were sourced from Bangkok, and personally assembled by her, her team, and some of my father’s helpers, late into the night. The plants, we sourced from Far East Flora, and loaded it up onto my alphard … and the art, I’ve mentioned before, we visited the Artist’s studio to pick out.

The rail lightings above, she found in Singapore to be exorbitantly priced, so those were sourced from Bangkok too, and then carried over. And the round lights which are a signature of InnitBangkok,  from Johor Bahru (Thanks Fred for picking them up).

You see these pretty mannequins …

Yep, thats me and my grumpy face about to fly those mannequins back home to Singapore for the wifey.

Mind you, I may be the grumpy looking one here, but the wife spent the night packing all of this up, whilst I slept soundly like a pig (I just cant keep up!).

If that is not heart, I don’t know what is.

The straw that really broke the camel’s back for me at least, was when she then asked me, “Ming, do you think I should cook Thai food on the day? For my guests?”

I gave her a look of incredulity. With her shop opening on the 18th, and my brother’s wedding on the 16th, plus my grandmother in hospital, I just thought, that is too much! Surely catering, would do! (Greedy me thinks local beehoon and curry chicken).

But as I’ve said, I relented, as truthfully there is a method to her madness, and not only that, she is always responsible for her decisions, working hard to pull a result out. So we woke up early on the morning of my brother’s wedding day (because the market was closed on Monday), and lined up in queue at the pork sellers to get 5KG of pork neck.

Some of my logic prevailed though, and the Thai Iced Tea, plus Green Chicken Curry were sourced from local Thai restaurants (But yes, we carried those back in my car too). But just look at the spread. From BKK to SGP with love.

When it really hit home, that she had been right all along, in pulling out all the stops and putting her heart into everything, was when at the end of the night, the pork neck she had cooked, was sold out, and the green chicken curry (which was sourced), just 1/6th done.

It sank in then, that it was all the tiny details and effort she and her sister had put in, that had made innitBangkok a success, and would continue to drive its success in Singapore.

Customers can walk into the store, and they might not be able to put their finger on it. On why it stands out as a retail experience, and why the pieces speak so much to them. But the big reason I’ve learnt is HEART.

When you buy an innit piece, you are not just buying their design creativity, and innovation, but also a piece of the sister’s hearts and love. And that’s not marketing fluff. Its a tangible-intangible.

As an entrepreneur, I would still say that being smart about delegation (relying on a team), and outsourcing should be factored in at some point, particularly as you scale.

And I always remind her about capturing the true cost of business (i.e., her time, and the opportunity cost of others).

BUT, it is always true, that the essence of any successful business has to reflect the HEART & PASSION OF THE ENTREPRENEUR themselves. And oftentimes, it is in those moments, when we achieve our sweetest success.