Myself and my business partner, Kim Tay have been very busy since the beginning of the year. Amidst all the weddings and last min corporate events we are handling, we are also coaching a few of our partners on how to run their businesses. These past 2.5 years, I am so grateful that I have someone like Kim to share my thoughts, my vision and dream, and sometimes my own frustrations about being in the industry. But we both knew very well, we really love the industry. Over past 12 years (and for Kim, it is now her 14th year), we have grown in what we do, and we have also loved the industry more and more, amidst the fierce competitions and bad sentiments arising from the market.
Why do we love this industry - Special Events and Creative Retail industry?
We love simply because we have met real people - Artisans and entrepreneurs who actually gave up everything not because there's a lot of money in this industry, but simply bcos they do believe in what they do, and they are very passionate in what they do.
I used to be in the corporate life for a decade, and to have the same decade of experience in a wedding industry made me realised wedding artisans are very unique, and we are very special people. We do what we do, bcos we truly believe one day, our couples and our clients will embrace what we aspire to create and become. And to a large extent, many of us have somewhat achieved that.
Why we feel sad about this industry at the same time?
Like any industry, there is always competition , especially for an industry like a wedding industry, the entry of barrier is literally ZERO!! Everyone who has a camera can claim to be a photographer, anyone who can arrange flowers become a floral designer, everyone who does a mood board becomes a wedding planner, and anyone who can sketch or sew becomes a gown designer. Yet the main challenge about this intense competition is also very emotional, bcos like I said earlier, we are real people. When passionate people come together to compete, they don't compete by mere best deals or lowest quotation, they compete purely with their works. At least I can say majority of us do. Yet in recent years, both Kim and myself have also observed, both old and new players have also started to compromise the integrity of this competition, applying undercutting strategies and copycats are birthed.. and that to me is very very sad!!
Bcos if we continue to have this carried on, the industry will eventually made up of short term goal getters and not legendary visionaries. And literally I believe our future clients or couples will have NO RESPECT in what we do - WHY? Bcos we no longer believe in what we do! And we will have no pride in passing any legacy. It is almost like what Founder Lee Kuan Yew said in his time of leading the country : “My colleagues and I are of that generation of young men who went through the Second World War and the Japanese Occupation and emerged determined that no one–neither Japanese nor British–had the right to push and kick us around. We determined that we could govern ourselves and bring up our children in a country where we can be proud to be self-respecting people.”
I felt our Jap & British we have to fight is the wave of market changes and the uncertainty of the next generation of consumers/players, but our destiny is determined by our own governance of how we live our passion and pass on our legacy.
So what should we do now?
This is why after so many years, I decided to take a plunge and do the next leap - creating an Asian platform for creative entrepreneurs to seriously talk and maintain the integrity of the industry, and most importantly to grow our business respectfully (if I may use that word) and profitably. I was the first planner in Singapore to invest money travelling around the world since I have started my business. I have had attended conferences after conferences and back then, I wished I have these people back home. I don't mean the American wedding planners are perfect, but I crave for the mutual sharing and integrity they protect for their industry. Everyone doesn't play poorly by the rules, bcos you will get sued if you ever do that :)
Leap Inspire was hence birthed in June 2014 (though the idea has been in discussion since Jan 2014), and we formally registered in Jan 2015. We decide to empower and groom the next generation of creative entrepreneurs towards excellence and success. we believe most of all, to cultivate in all creative entrepreneurs the right attitudes and attributes within ourselves if we truly want success and legacy for the next generation.
Past few weeks, many players have written to us to applaud what we do, some made remarks : that we are doing a BOLD step, and HUGE endeavour". But with every email we received, this was our reply : "Thank you, we are not doing this because we can boast how well we do... bcos if there is the reason, we have better plans and projects to embark on. We do this, bcos we believe in the industry." Yes, the investment for this is HUGE, some have tried to do but failed. So we know the stake is actually very risky, but we took this step of faith to leap and invest much, bcos we really want to see a change of attitudes in the next generation of entrepreneurs, as well as a growth of more respect from the next generation of clients.
So will we succeed? I only believe in this :
Legacy is not what's left tomorrow when you're gone.
It is what you give, create, impact and contribute today while you're here than then happens to live on" by Rasheed Oguniaru.