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 Iris Tan & Sharon Sim (Authica Jewellery)
Tell us a little about yourself. What is your business/brand about?
We are the Co-Founders of Authica Jewellery – we specialise in offering only the highest quality of lab-grown diamonds, that are certified the exact way traditionally mined diamonds are, by the same established diamond grading intuitions such as IGI (International Gemological Institute) and GIA (Gemological Institute of America).
In our brand, we prioritise the education of the environmental, economical, and social benefits of lab-grown diamond jewellery. We often clarify misconceptions about lab-grown diamonds as diamond stimulants. So the first thing that happens when you step into our quaint boutique will usually be an insightful conversation about lab-grown diamonds, followed by a detailed analysis of what makes a truly quality diamond that Authica can offer.
What got you started on your business?
It was not just one particular motivation. Most importantly, we wanted to educate consumers on the benefits of lab-grown diamonds because there’s still a lot to do with lab-grown diamonds only making up a small part of the diamond industry in Singapore.
While we are working in our corporate jobs back then in the traditional diamond industry, we realised a few things that raised concerns such as that the price of mined diamonds is increasing yearly, the environment is not getting better and diamond mining is not making it any better. We also saw a knowledge gap in the market for quality and ethical diamonds. Hence, we wanted to specialise in a better product alternative, lab-grown diamonds, that are more viable economically, environmentally and ethically.
Before you started on your business, what did you do on a full-time basis?
We used to be part of the corporate and strategic team in the traditional diamond industry at one of the largest jewellery chains in Singapore.
What were some difficulties you faced in your life and how did you overcome them?
Sharon: What really hit me would be the difficult decision between a comfy corporate job and entrepreneurship. Being brought up in an Asian family, it is a common expectation for ladies to have a stable job so that they can take better care of their family but the life of an entrepreneur is far from stable, with the crazy working hours and the fact that you never truly knock off from work. With loving encouragement from my husband and close friends, I resigned and chose the challenging path of entrepreneurship!
Iris: As a full-time working mom to a mompreneur, juggling both personal and professional aspects of my life is definitely one of the greatest challenges. It’s totally true that it takes a village to raise a kid! Only with the enduring support of my hubby and parents, I can have the ease of mind to focus on building Authica with my team and continue to maintain a fruitful relationship with my children. My kids are so understanding of my hectic schedule too! They do not demand my time and attention most of the time. But I will strive to spend some valuable time with my loved ones every week. For example, weekly date night with my hubby and nightly short chats with my kids is a must to catch up on some precious time with my loved ones.
Who inspires you?
Sharon: I have been very blessed to be surrounded by strong women and men with different great qualities in my life and I learn different life lessons from them. If I were to specify a few key people in my personal life, I would say it’s a combination of my mum, mother-in-law and my husband. Professionally, I draw inspiration from Authica team members. With our combined strengths. It feels like we can conquer the world. Iris: Professionally, I have always admired the grit, passion and empathy of our late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. With his capabilities and network, he could have left Singapore to pursue a cushy life with his family. However, he chose to stay in Singapore and fight massive battles to build today’s Singapore. His foresight and vision are so admirable too. Personally, my children inspire me so much! Their endearing kindness, understanding and hopes for a brighter future motivate me to be a better person every day. They are so excited that Authica is trying to make some positive changes for Mother Earth with a more sustainable product alternative. This makes my venture at Authica so much more fruitful.
What excites you most about your industry?
Sharon: It would be the ability to make beautiful jewellery while taking a step forward to save the environment. It is a good marriage between being practical and beautiful.
Iris: It always makes our day when our customers love their bespoke jewellery and share with us their happy proposal stories. There’s so much joy in what we do as our customers often purchase their diamond jewellery to celebrate joyous and meaningful key milestones in life. As a mom of two, it warms my heart to be able to help young couples save some money on their engagement rings, for their new homes and family plans, without compromising product quality and their loved ones’ preferences. I am thankful to know that my children will be able to benefit from this positive change in our industry in future too.
What is your vision / personal motto?
Sharon: Work for passion instead of money, have patience and money will come later. It was the advice given to me by my polytechnic lecturer when I posed the Money VS Passion question on Facebook aeons ago.
Iris: It’s definitely to keep learning my lessons and counting my blessings! I always share with my kids that one is never too old to stop learning. Perhaps this is why I still have the courage to leave corporate and pursue entrepreneurship (again) in my late 30s. Of course, this won’t be possible without my family’s belief and support for me. Hence, counting my blessings to keep me going during tough times is super helpful.
Do you have any word of advice for other ladies who are starting their business/ starting to pursue their dream?
Sharon: Have trust in the people that you’re working with. It is a very precious gift to bestow to and be bestowed upon by others, from suppliers to your teammates. And the good old saying, teamwork makes the dream work!
Iris: Everyone must act if we want to have a chance to survive on Mother Earth. It will be truly inspirational if more can have the vision to create greener businesses in today’s dynamic ecosystem. When the betterment of your customers, their preferences and your future are positioned ahead of personal or corporate gains, your heartfelt passion to drive positive changes will be appreciated eventually. Coupled with consistency in your deliverables, you will build a strong network of believers, not just customers, with time. Precious personal key learnings from my past and current business ventures.
How do you think you can help ladies to feel confident and empowered?
Sharon: Take time out to invest in yourself, it rewards you in other ways. It can be as easy as purchasing a new piece of clothing to nail that interview or registering for new classes to enrich your mind, body and soul. Or simply, learn new life skills for survival.
Iris: Always count your blessings and focus on bringing joy to your close ones! Expressing daily gratitude is a good reminder that you are doing great and you are loved. When you feel loved by others and yourself, you will be filled with more confidence and motivation to share good vibes and bring joy. It’s a positive chain effect!
What have you learned recently that you hope the other ladies can take back?
Sharon: To sum things up, women should support each other because ain’t nobody got time for sour grapes.
Iris: Grit, trust and consistency are key factors to rewarding fulfilment. Have the courage to embrace every challenge as a valuable opportunity, and you will discover newfound strength to overcome it. Have faith that your passion and hard work will be recognised by the right and like-minded people, who will grow to be part of your tribe. Step by step, day by day, small wonders will grow to become great wonders.
What is one thing you are grateful for?
Sharon: I’m grateful for the love, trust and support from the people around me, regardless of work or personal. It gives me the strength to propel forward.
Iris: I’m really thankful for the trust that my family and team have in me, as a wife, mother and leader. It’s only with their faith that I have the opportunities to pursue my passion and build Authica, our vision of a green business in the dynamic ecosystem, and do our littlest part to instil positive changes in the local jewellery landscape.
What do you do in your free time as self-care? How do you unwind?
Sharon: Self-care is really important to me to rest and rejuvenate, what I usually do would be to read books (I have a self-imposed quota to hit!) and book a spin class to sweat it out.
Iris: Regular meditation helps to calm me down and clear my thoughts, to make room for more exciting ideas to share with my team at Authica. Honestly, it’s really hard for me to chill and relax much as an entrepreneur, as I tend to be hard on myself like I have not done enough for my family, my team, Authica and our customers. After much encouragement from my tribes at home and at work, I learned to slow my pace a bit for a better balance in life. Indulging in my favourite books by author Haemin Sumin helps much too.
Let us know more about what you do!
Authica modernizes the local diamond jewellery landscape by marrying bespoke jewellery design service with quality and certified lab-grown diamonds. With Authica, one can now appreciate diamonds without a hefty price to Mother Earth and our loved ones.
You may find us featured in Business Times, Capital 958 and CNA Lifestyle.
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