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AN OVERCOMER OF ODDS
They say if you follow your passion, you will never have to work a day in your life. For Steph Low, this is a motto that she lives by. As the Founder and Art Director of Yong Studio, this young and feisty woman has come a long way and made a mark for herself in the competitive world of interior designing, in just a short span of six years. In an interview with TMV, Steph shares her passion for designing and her aim of creating a platform for other designers to showcase their talent.
Having completed her Interior Design course, Steph started her journey in the industry by working in an interior design and construction company. “I worked in a small company for two years plus. I learned how to do everything – from administrative tasks, accounts, designing and other ad-hoc jobs that came my way. As such, this company has been my biggest training ground before I started Yong Studio.”
After gaining two years of solid experience in the company, Steph began her journey of entrepreneurship by being a freelance designer. “I first started off on a freelance basis for three years at my house with only one single desk to work on. I must say it was not easy at all as I don’t have the knowledge to manage clients, finances, contractors, and even how to do a quotation. So in my first year, I experienced financial loss because of the mistakes I made due to my lack of knowledge in these areas. I started my company with only my last month’s salary, and by the end of the year I was having debts. So it was very tough for me to get back up and push forward but I did it,” shares Steph.
Despite her hardship, Steph still managed to fight through her difficult times, and today her company has received multiple awards for its excellent work in the industry. In fact, in the beginning of this year, Yong Studio won the Best Interior Design Private Residence Award in Asia Pacific 2018 award held in Bangkok.
“When I first started, my only aim was to be a designer who has the freedom to showcase my ideas, and not so much on being an entrepreneur. But along the line I realised that I needed both in order to succeed in this industry. Since my knowledge and exposure in being a boss wasn’t the best, I had encountered multiple hardships. Therefore, I had a goal to ensure that no new designers would need to go through things that I went through. So my idea was to create a platform for them to showcase their talent, but I will supply them with all the necessary skills and help they need. For example, we assist designers to create a quotation or even help them search for contacts of reliable contractors,” explains Steph.
The only criteria required of these designers is a dying passion for design and Yong Studio will supply them with the other necessary things like workers, management skills, accounting services and more. Steph further explains, “My future plan for now is to seek designers to come on board. The model should be like a franchise where we have smaller companies (interior designers) and they all come under Yong Studio. So we act like the parent company and we will assist the smaller companies to grow themselves.”
As for advice for upcoming interior designers, Steph believes that one need only to be determined. “To be a businessperson, determination is crucial because you’ll face a lot of challenges along the way and you won’t know how to deal with them if you lack determination. Most people will give up but if you have a clear goal and a solid determination, you will be able to wade through difficulties and emerge a winner.”