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 Germaine Lye (Our Barehands)
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, I am Germaine, I’ve been a big supporter of education and opportunity to those who may not have access to such. I’m also a co-founder of Our Barehands – a registered social enterprise in Singapore and an international collaborative platform that creates unique and quality lifestyle pieces with small-producing communities around the world. Each piece is carefully handcrafted and tells a story of the people behind it.
What got you started on your business?
I started Barehands with two other co-founders, Chanel and Mitchell, back in May 2019 as we saw a growing need amongst 3 groups of people: artisans, consumers and people who simply wanted a platform to put their skills behind a meaningful cause (which we’ve since termed “collaborators”).
For many of the artisans we’ve met throughout our years of visits or are currently working with now, have struggled to create a sustainable livelihood for themselves because of several factors like the lack of market access, proper equipment, market-ready designs or even funding. Due to this, many have found themselves not being able to provide for themselves and their families. As for consumers, we noticed that products that were made with a cause behind them were meaningful, but we found it hard to purchase a product that was well made, had a practical use for it, and was relatively affordable.
Lastly, we had met with many people over the years who shared about their eagerness to support a meaningful cause but just did not know where to apart from the usual charitable organizations. And so, we decided to provide a platform that met the needs of all 3 stakeholders but with a focused goal of creating a more sustainable livelihood for our artisans over time.
Before you started on your business, what did you do on a full-time basis?
Just before starting Barehands, I was heading a corporate foundation as part of a MNC in the healthcare sector, where I was overseeing its corporate giving and employee engagement strategies in Asia-Pacific.
What were some difficulties you faced in your life and how did you overcome them?
Definitely. Living abroad on my own for several years at an age of 16 was an experience that I’ll never forget. Given all the challenges of being forced to be independent as a teenager; getting used to a different culture, overcoming loneliness, and making small and big decisions for myself every day – these lessons have taught me so much and thankfully have stayed with me throughout.
Who inspires you?
Both Martin Luthers (Martin Luther & Martin Luther King Jr.). Both men’s lives were fuelled by a burning passion and conviction of what they believed in.
What excites you most about your industry?
Knowing that the work that we put in day in and day out is one that can be life-changing to another person. This just recharges and jumpstarts my morning each and every single day! (I’m usually not a morning person!)
What is your vision / personal motto?
I don’t have only one that I live by but if I had to summarise one it’ll be to Love richly, Learn deeply, Live widely.
Do you have any word of advice for other ladies who are starting their business/ starting to pursue their dream?
Look up at your dream, but don’t forget to look at the ground so that you know where to start. As you journey along and build your business, you’ll be very tempted to look around (your competitors) but don’t forget to look inside (yourself) to go back to the ‘why’ you started what you started.
How do you think you can help ladies to feel confident and empowered?
The first rule of thumb is to not compare. We learn from others, but the approval of others is not one that we build our identity on. It starts from being self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and then to be confident in them and know that your identity and worth are not found in all of these things.
What have you learnt recently that you hope the other ladies can take back?
A recent learning is that one can live with disappointments but one cannot live without hope. We all hope for something, whether we say it out loud or not. As ladies, our hope may be to be the best mother, daughter, or sister to our family member, or be the best employee/employer. We are all hoping to be that someone or something in a future state. My take is, what are we doing now to make that a reality?
What is one thing you are grateful for?
Two things! I’m grateful for the many lessons I’ve learned in my journey – the ups and downs, the successes and failures – every part of my past experience has shaped my understanding of how to build my present, for the future. I’m also very thankful for the many people that have come my way to walk with me through life’s journey. Many have also dared to speak honestly into my life – some even to tell me hard things about myself that not many people would. I’m truly appreciative of all those instances I call true friendship!
What do you do in your free time as self-care? How do you unwind?
I usually take walks at the park with my family, I love wide spaces and water bodies – there’s an alluring serenity that comes with it. In this fast-paced society we live in, it has become a discipline to unwind, take a breather and recharge for the next day. We may not know it, but it’s absolutely necessary – if not, we’ll find ourselves mentally and emotionally entangled in the stresses/effects of our busyness before we know it.
Let us know more about what you do!
Our Barehands is a lifestyle brand passionate about making a difference in the lives of its artisans, customers, and collaborators by co-creating unique, quality, and versatile pieces for the ordinary folk.
You may find us featured on Her World, The New Paper, Harper’s Bazaar, Salt & Light, Expat Living, DC Edit, 8 DAYS, Green Is The New Black, Hoolah, CNA 938 Live, and TimeOut.
Connect with Our Barehands!
Are you a Fempreneur too?
Connect with us – we’d love to feature you! Say hi to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to us via our social media.
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)
The rest of the Fempreneur interviews can be found here.