In this special column called the “TLC x Fempreneurs Series”, we will be featuring inspiring Female Entrepreneurs (Fempreneurs) in short. You will be able to have a sneak peek at their mindsets and their daily habits.
Believe in the power of community. On some days when you feel big goals are impossible, or when you feel like giving up, you need to lean on your like-minded community. You can even “borrow” motivation, and in turn “return” with your own inspiring stories to pay it forward.
Meet Ashley LeCaine (LeCaine Gems)
Tell us a little about yourself.
We started as an online jeweller selling ethical gemstones, we make and produce engagement rings, wedding bands and collector jewellery that are bespoke and customised to their requests. LeCaine is a family surname with heritage in the French-Canadian community back in Canada. However, our brand is solely homegrown in Singapore as the co-founder Michael LeCaine is a second-generation born and raised Singaporean. The idea of naming the company LeCaine Gems is to create a legacy for our children hopefully they have a passion for jewellery in the future.
Sometime in late 2020 during the Phase 2 reopening in Singapore, we expanded our online business into a physical store due to the increasing demands of getting customised jewellery by wedding couples. Our focus is on lab-created gems such as Moissanite, a popular diamond alternative in the USA. They are not only more affordable, but they are also environmentally friendly as they are not mined. Since started offering precious stones both natural and lab-created, we have carefully sourced clients looking to increase their jewellery setting options.
What got you started on your business?
My love for jewellery and to be able to build a future for the children with a business I know best. I hope to teach them values and entrepreneurship skills through the company. If they choose other professions, that’s fine as well. At least, they know their parents worked hard to build a business to provide for them.
Before you started on your business, what did you do on a full time basis?
I was literally a full-time mom to my young children who are now 5 and 6 years old because I didn’t want to miss a milestone with them. I had been in Marketing, Trading and Operational roles and looking back, everything has been a journey to hone my skills to place me where I am today.
What were some difficulties you faced in your life and how did you overcome them?
My difficulties have always been time and creating the perfect system. I never have enough time for anything! Having a system in place is crucial and something we have to keep improving. Our only solution is to hire staff who are capable and display the same intrinsic values as us, to allow us to do more with so little time. However, that has proven to be the most difficult thing to date. Hiring the right staff is a task easily underestimated by businesses. You don’t want to hire someone who doesn’t represent the brand. Every little attribute of this person has to align with the brand. You can’t just hire someone, this person is a part of LeCaine and all they do has to signify what the brand is about, how the customers feel when communicating and dealing with this person. Their contribution to the business is more like a partnership as we help each other grow and move up.
Who inspires you?
Bruno Mars. For real. Not only is he multi-talented, but all his albums also do better than the previous one. He is someone who strikes the industry as better than best. I attribute his success to a vast amount of hard work because being gifted can only get you so far but perseverance and the hunger to succeed makes you stand out from the pack. I’m always amazed by his musical talent, how he emulates music from different eras and make them better than the original. I’ll love to keep outdoing myself the way he does. In the early days of his career, he was knocking on doors trying to get record companies to sign him but met with ethnic biases. That spurred him to make a name for himself. He never stops but proven that belief in oneself is an important factor to success.
What excites you most about your industry?
New and trending designs. Jewellery is subjective but it’s also sensuous to the collector. We love to design new collections and styles, to show what we can do for our clients and their sometimes impossible requests. Because we are confident of our workmanship, we know we can rely on our team to create the most outstanding statement pieces or even the subtle ones.
What is your vision / personal motto?
I’ve always wanted this business as a legacy for our children. But I understand the limitations of a small business. In order to scale the business domestically and internationally, I believe everyone who puts in an effort to build this company is part of the founding team. For long term relationships to blossom like how our clients journey with us over the years, we have to reward our employees like partners and clients and train the next generation to take over.
Do you have any word of advice for other ladies who are starting their business/ starting to pursue their dream?
Do your research. Always always research.
Choose a niche and PLAN! Be in the present.
Remember to smell the roses when the going gets tough.
Don’t forget to spend time with the ones who support you throughout this journey.
Know your end game and when it’s time to let go. Don’t lose yourself.
How do you think you can help ladies to feel confident and empowered?
Don’t allow self-doubt to take over. Surround yourself with like-minded friends and the ones who genuinely root for you. Life is too short to mull over the negative stuff. Dress well, smile more, the radiance in you will shine through.
What have you learnt recently that you hope the other ladies can take back?
I recently learnt to start breathing. Sounds funny but its actually a thing! Work stress can be nasty and often we don’t breathe enough or take deep breaths to clear our minds. Do a simple breathing exercise every now and then, you will find it helps you with focus better.
What is one thing you are grateful for?
My husband. Without my supportive husband to help care for the kids while I’m out there during the first few years to take courses, create the website and spending lots of time on my own to self-learn, I would not be able to drive hard and get up to speed. He is there when I needed to be confident when I needed not to be so hard on myself. He assures me that I’m doing a good job when I have a bad day. My mind is at peace knowing that the kids are in good hands while I work hard to build our business.
What do you do in your free time as self-care? How do you unwind?
I’m not really good at self-care to be honest. My close friends can attest to that! The constant complaint I hear is that I am never away from work even on holidays. Which is very sad. I’m like the worst workaholic they ever met. Its NOT a good thing. Not a compliment at all. I justified by telling myself I work hard now so the future would be better. That is true to a certain extent but I have come to understand the power of being in the present knowing there’s only so much I can do in a day.
The thing I love to do during my free time is to unwind with my favorite wine. I love Wines from France and New Zealand as they remind me of the vineyards I visited and can’t visit anymore – or until the world recovers from the Covid. I love to cook, in fact, I’m quite a good cook. Thanks to my Cantonese blood, I make really good soup! My immediate and distant families are all Cantonese so it seems cooking and entrepreneurship are a thing with us?
Mainly I love being with the kids. When I first took my official off day (I worked 7 days a week for a few months straight since the shop opened) it felt surreal to be at home with them. I forgot how it felt to be at home just resting not replying to messages which to be honest was a little hard to ignore. I love to cook for my husband and kids whenever I get the chance. They are 5 and 6 years old and growing up real fast, this is probably the only time they will adore me like a goddess.
Let us know more about what you do!
LeCaine Gems is the leading Moissanite jeweller in Singapore. We stay true to the meticulous process of handcrafting the perfect piece of jewellery. Starting off as an online platform, LeCaine Gems maintained a low price point while offering quality customisations for their customers. By allowing customers to customise their items, ensures prompt communication and genuine interaction, all part of the personalised experience offered by LeCaine Gems.
You may find us being featured in Vanilla Luxury, Atome, and MOneyFM 89.3.
Connect with LeCaine Gems!
Address: 9 Raffles Boulevard #01-32 Millenia Walk, Singapore 039596
Read TLC x Fempreneur Series:
- Margaret Wu, For Beloved One
- Hong Choy Yin, Tots Society
- Pearline Foo, Spring Breeze Marketing
- Evangeline Leong, Kobe
- Maddy Barber, Madly Gems
- Ezza Yusof, 2morrow Official (Malaysia)
- Julie Yim, Lilin+Co (Malaysia)
- Nadia, HelloBello (Malaysia)
- Zairin Azman, UMMA (Malaysia)
- Manon Allano (EstheClinic Singapore)