Chloe Chong was in the financial sector for more than 15 years before she decided that it was time to go onto a different path – starting her floral business, The Enchanted Tree in October 2015. Why?
This is her story.
Just do it but be prepared. No one says it’s going to be easy. If you love what you do enough, you will find a way to make it work.
What inspired you to start your own business and why flowers?
I have always had the passion for flowers, and after my second child, I decided it was time to embark on a different journey. Like most start-ups, I had a lot of doubts initially especially in a highly competitive trade like this, but I guess one thing led to another. After taking up formal lessons, gaining some practical experiences and lots and lots of research, I found more courage to pursue the business (that’s of course after working out the sums). It came to a point where I had sufficient savings and encouragement from my husband, I gave it a shot, and here I am.
What were the reactions of your loved ones when you told them that you are starting your own business?
Everyone was pretty much supportive right from the beginning, family and close friends. But most importantly, I had tremendous support from my husband, and that makes a difference especially when we had very young kids then. So we had to juggle between a new venture and a young family, not a stroll in the park but indeed fulfilling.
What were the initial challenges you faced when setting up The Enchanted Tree? Did you require a huge capital?
The capital was substantial, but it wasn’t very huge per se, but of course, we had to spend on equipment, renovation (this took a chunk as we were starting a retail space) and the typical business set-up costs. However, up until today, there are challenges like rental costs and other expenditures on services that continue to put pressure on managing costs and operations. Also, we put a lot of emphasis on our product and service quality hence it is incredibly delicate to balance the costs of effectiveness in delivering this commitment to our customers.
Have you ever thought of giving up and find an 8 to 5 office job? Why and why not?
Not so much about giving up but rather to seek an alternative to keep the business afloat and ensuring my employees still have a job. There are challenging days/months, and these are the moments when I thought I should go back to an office job and manage the business part-time, as a way to offload some business expenses. Over time, things became better; we learn how to cope and manage the company better. I feel blessed every single day to be where I am now. We have built a healthy relationship with our growing followers, and we are ever grateful for their support. It is a form of encouragement for us to continue doing what we are doing and strive to make it better.
What motivate you and keep you going?
My family. The need to survive. Support from our regular and loyal fans. Commitment to the team and everyone who believes in us.
What are the areas that you think that you have done well and the areas that you have not?
So far I would count myself very blessed. Backed by a pretty competent and most importantly dedicated team and great support from our suppliers and vendors, we have been able to fulfil our orders well consistently. That said, we needed to limit our orders at some point conscious of not putting too much pressure on existing resources. One of the things we hope to be able to improve is to gear up our resources & efficiencies to be able to take in more orders and serve more customers. Sustainability is important to us. It’s a marathon.
As an entrepreneur, what is the advice that you would give to people who aspire to be one themselves?
Just do it but be prepared. No one says it’s going to be easy. If you love what you do enough, you will find a way to make it work. Before starting a business, usually, there will be a lot of strategic thinking of various ‘if’ scenarios. But trust me, nothing beats the real thing. You can only imagine that many situations, but when it comes to the real thing, it can be entirely different. You might find yourself focusing your energy on things you didn’t prepare for or thought of. So the bottom line should not be much of a concern. I always believe that things happen for a reason.