Saturday, August 14, 2010

A bold voice of Hannah Chong has spoken

I have been silent for many months.. in fact since 2010, I have been quiet in the blog. One part of the reasons was I was really busy creating weddings I have dreamt to create, the other side of me was there were so many gossip and rumours which some players in the industry strive to create about me, that I was really really angry and disturbed. And I think it's high time I speak what I need to speak to the readers and to the local industry players who are certainly watching me.

I have left the corporate world because I want to pursue what I love, but at the same time I don't enjoy the politics in the corporate world, and I thought starting a small firm like mine will not erect much politics anyway, until I became popular, famous etc whatever you call it. The unkind words that were circulating around have affected me and the people I love and respected, and all these years, blogging to me was only a form of education to the readers as well as a form of self therapy where I get to review my thoughts life.. so often I am careful what I write, because I do love my readers, esp my couples.

Today, I decided I need to be bold to express how I have gone and still going thru as an entrepreneur and as a wedding planner in Singapore , a country that is supposed to be very efficient, very open-minded.. but in reality we are in many ways pretty narrow-minded in the ways we think or compete with one another. I wish we are truly open and I still believe one day, Singaporeans can embrace excellence as much as be gracious to one another, esp to people in the industry and to those who serve us.

The last few months, I was so busy, but I have no time to catch up with my contractors/artists I respected. And only in July, I finally got to meet some of them. The news that came around to me were shocking and unfair :

Someone spoke to my florist , "Why should you be loyal to Hannah if she's not loyal to you. Afterall, you are the one that made her famous?"
Another gossip "Hannah isn't the concept creator, she just copy designs from Preston Bailey or from the magazines"
Another remarked "Hannah doesn't take commission from suppliers, but she takes more margins than anyone.."
Another concluded "Hannah is not as good as she claims to be, she overcharges etc etc etc"

I pondered for a long while, and wonder why are people in this industry so unkind.. why are they so foolish not to realise by killing their very own kind, they are killing themselves. I never need to explain to anyone what I do, because I do have the guts and the capabilities to do what I do. Today, I intended to take the risk to share who Hannah really is to you, and let you be the final judge.

Yes, I get inspirations from magazines, and my benchmark of success is never measured against anyone in Singapore. I have always been taught by my mentors, the world is the standards, look beyond the borders. I spent money and time travelling across to the other side of the world to be inspired and to believe this is where my benchmark should be. I admire Colin Cowie, Preston Bailey and David Tutera and many others out there who hold a vision of what they do. They are what they are because they never stop learning, never stop believing, never stop inspiring and be inspired. And every of my works are indeed inspired by these great men in the event industry, but it is also coupled with the personality and creativity of Hannah Chong. Take a look at every of my designs, you will understand what I mean. It is never just Preston Bailey's duplicate, etc, it is always a product I have created with all the inspirations we gathered and further developed, and most important, it is an inspiration derived from my couple's story. That's the reason our corporate tagline is always "Your Story, Our Inspiration".

Which player spends more time than me to critique the staging designs, hires a team in house to do the sets drawings before hiring any contractors, takes time to do press check of all printings even as simple things as invitation cards, goes to meet cake chef and discuss about the designs on her own, spends time reviewing the lightings in every event, instead of leaving to the contractor, spends overnight in the hotel to ensure all setup is accurate and precise as what she has presented to the couple, and even willing to threw in money for more flowers, more lightings, reprints etc to ensure what is delivered is perfect as what she has envisioned, when her own couples didn't even expect that of her. I think no one is as crazy as me..

We are not claiming we are the best. But we do know what we do, and we truly strive to do every part of our works to the excellence level I believe in. Yes, I don't believe in taking commissions, because commissions to me is a fee a contractor pays to a planner/agent for recommending a client. It is a marketing fees. And that's no right or wrong about taking commissions. But for us, we never behave like an agent, we take time to do research, take time to conceptualise, take time to design and redesign, we owns our own internal team of designers I build to do what we do. And for every concept, it is more than just the decor, it is an integration of the concept, the staging, the floral sets, the lightings, even the musicians and the special corners to become the final product of what we envision.

And because of that, I am very fussy, I choose my suppliers, and I don't allow couples to determine the suppliers. The reason is simple, the drawings are from us, unlike some.. and the vision is birthed from us to the couple. Who knows better than ourselves to decide the vendors whom we think can do the job. And our vendors are like my close siblings, without them, I won't be what I am today. But without me, they won't deploy the vision I am seeing.. The cherry blossom trees wedding is a good example. It is not complete if we are not the one that create the painting ( with my in house designers) and give to the florist, without Brenda, the trees will not be erected to be as pretty as it was.. and without my lightings crew and my photographers, it will not become trees that can blossom like in a spring to an autumn time (all in a day).. it is not just one vendor who did the job and make it a wow factor.. no no no... it is a combination of many vendors with their expertise, and with Hannah as the brainchild for that vision. All my vendors from florists, sets contractors, lightings, photographers, musicians etc etc are my beloved, and I protect them as close to my own. Yet there are people who are jealous because they do not believe I have the favour of men.. and to tell you the truth. I am favoured not just because of what we do, not just because vendors like me, but because there's a God up there who takes care of us. Period. I love what I do, I believe in my team (in house and my vendors), and no one can take away that, except God.

And I have seen how gossip and rumours have killed the players in the industry for stupid reasons merely caused by jealousy and envy. Someone told me there are approximately 300,000 weddings in Singapore in a year, and think about that, even 0.1 percent of that is equivalent to 3000 weddings. Can 2 contractors serve 3000 well, can 10 planners serve 3000 well? let's say I make a mistake, and that is only 30,000 weddings in a year, isn't 300 weddings for those who can pay us still too many for the players.. In other words, there are enough weddings for everyone.. so why kill one another.. we are not open minded enough, we are very very narrow-minded.

In conclusion, this is Hannah, all my blog posts are true reflections of who I am. I can't bluff long in my blogging. Ask my staff, ask my vendors or even my couples who have been with me for years, they will tell you who we are. And trust me, we will go beyond Singapore.. I am just tired of the narrow-mindedness here... the world is the real market, why spend time talking behind someone's back killing one another, when we have so much to do in the real world.

My prayer is this : God, open our eyes to see beyond ourselves.. and let you be the judge of all words and works.. To God be the Glory. Amen