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 Jacqueline Ng (Big Bad Wolf Books)
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi! My name is Jacqueline, a Singaporean who has been living in Malaysia for the past 18 years and started the business, BookXcess and then Big Bad Wolf Books 14 years ago.
Big Bad Wolf Books is a global reading advocacy and is created in 2009 for the sole purpose of an event that would attract the interest of non-readers. Pre-covid, it was a physical event where an avid reader would be excited to go because it is a book sale, but they won’t go alone. So, a family member or a friend who tags along is who we wish would convert from a non-reader into a reader.
Big Bad Wolf Books was launched in 2009 and, to date, we have toured 13 countries and conducted events in over 34 cities. And in Singapore, this would be our third Big Bad Wolf Online Book Sales in Singapore as we have yet to host the Big Bad Wolf Books physical Book Sale before, due to the pandemic covid situation.
What got you started on your business?
The whole objective of starting BookXcess was to increase readership and English literacy way back in 2007 – that’s when we realised that the readership in Malaysia was as low as 2%. And for a country where there was not much of a reading culture and imported books were very expensive due to the low disposable income, and we wanted to create access for parents to afford books for their kids and not be a burden on their wallets.
The price point of the books is also very important. It has to be at a certain price that appeals to both the reader and the non-reader who may want to try a new genre, new author, or a new hobby is willing to pick up that book without any hesitation. It has to be a price that a person or an individual would buy not only for her or himself but perhaps as a gift for a friend or a colleague.
Before you started on your business, what did you do on a full-time basis?
I graduated in Accountancy and after graduation I joined an Audit Firm for a short period. Before moving to Malaysia, I worked as a Customer Service Executive with Great Eastern at their call centre in Singapore 18 years ago.
Neither I nor my husband was from the book industry, so it was purely for the mission and vision, that drove us to start BookXcess and Big Bad Wolf Books.
What were some difficulties you faced in your life and how did you overcome them?
I think everyone will go through various ups and downs in life; we deal with all kinds of issues from as young as early childhood, and it depends on the environment you grow up in; the different types of upbringing. One must go through the years of finding and trying to manoeuvre one’s way, be it at work or being a parent, through relationships or through marriage. So, for me being a Christian, most of my difficulties in life, I turn to God. Even for business and my day-to-day, I rely very heavily on the trust I put in God and for Him to direct my every step.
Who inspires you?
There are many, and one of my favourite books that I have read is Oprah Winfrey’s ‘Wisdom of Sundays’, and when I was reading about her life story, it was truly inspiring. And the more you read about successful people’s biography, you will realise that many of them did not have an easy start in life. They had gone through all sorts of trauma and hardship when they were young.
For instance, Oprah was sexually abused, and being African American, she had to go through discrimination throughout her early years in her career while trying to make a name and be successful in her industry. And look at her now, but what is most inspiring about her is her love and generosity towards everyone, and the Channel that she has created has truly inspired people, which is her core mission and calling.
She has that position to be able to spread the word of love, kindness and empowers people. Her key message was always about never giving up; it is always about believing in yourself; and life’s potential – regardless of your background. She is a true testimony to anyone that if she can overcome it, so can you!
What excites you most about your industry?
This industry which we are very blessed with is books! It is a product that can literally transform lives! We’ve received testimonies after testimonies since we started a 500 sq ft store, and how the books were made so assessable and at such affordable prices has literally changed lives. There are many stories where books have played a significant role in a child’s life or even adults. That’s why we strongly advocate and believe in our mission – “Changing the World, One Book at a Time” – books truly do transform lives!
What is your vision / personal motto?
Since young, the primary value that I have is, always be pure – pure in the sense where we are always honest; we always do things with integrity; don’t take short-cuts; give our best, and we should always be fair to ourself or always fair to the person we’re dealing with be it in business, customers, with supplies or vendors. I always believe in a win-win situation for two parties, and I also always believe in building.
So, with anything we do and if we can do something more…that is genuine that people can see ….you build on it and if people can feel your sincerity, integrity and you’re empowering nature ….that is where you build. Books really can build a dream and inspire people.
Do you have any word of advice for other ladies who are starting their business/ starting to pursue their dream?
I believe women have a very strong and determined nature as we need to take on multiple roles when we need to and the responsibilities are enormous.
During my generation, when I was young, it was a given that if you are the daughter, you are expected to perform certain duties at home. So, the expectations and the environment that we grew up in has enabled us to take charge, and responsibilities come naturally as part and parcel of life – so, you just take it in your stride. Whether you’re a mother, the family breadwinner or a successful businesswoman, regardless the role, one of the greatest powers that a woman will always have is her strong intuition and her mental strength.
So, the women in this generation who are starting a new business or pursuing a dream are more empowered. There is less discrimination than the previous generation due to the progress that we have achieved thus far.
Women should not worry whether or not they can handle it – don’t question yourself if you’re good enough or strong enough or able to cope with the responsibilities of a family or have kids. In this day and age, every woman now can focus on both areas of her life very successfully and is more than capable of taking on both worlds successfully.
How do you think you can help ladies to feel confident and empowered?
Self-confidence is important. We need to BELIEVE in ourselves and our life potential. We need to understand and recognize our strengths. If there’s anything we do not have expertise on, take it as an opportunity to upscale and learn.
Motivate yourself every day, and knowing that you can do good for someone else is always very motivating to oneself. So, the work we do, we need to see the purpose of helping others, so it would be rewarding for us to empower us to pursue further.
And always be positive and appreciative.
What have you learned recently that you hope the other ladies can take back?
Self-Love — Love yourself first, and everything else will fall into place. Be kinder to yourself and value yourself. And it’s also the key to happiness.
What is one thing you are grateful for?
If only one thing I need to choose is God.
What do you do in your free time as self-care? How do you unwind?
For my self-care, I do my breathing exercising, meditation and Yoga. I practice and think of 3 things every day that I am grateful for, even if it’s small encounters, to remind ourselves of our blessings. I pray too and do regular wellness treatments like acupuncture, massage and beauty treatments to feel good and look good. Lastly, I enjoy reading to unwind. It can be a fiction title that just takes you to another place or something inspirational that would help to strengthen your faith.
Let us know more about what you do!
We at Big Bad Wolf Books want to encourage people to buy books not only for themselves but also buy that one additional book as a gift to someone. A combined effort with our customers to reach more people to inspire and help them transform lives! With that simple gesture, if everyone comes together, it will help us achieve our mission to “Change the World, One Book at a Time”.
You may find us featured on theAsianparent, The Malaysian Reserve and BFM89.9.
Connect with Big Bad Wolf Books!
3 winners will receive a set of Big Bad Wolf $50 voucher to be redeemable on the Online Book Sale! Head over to The Ladies Cue Instagram to participate!
Giveaway will run till 12 August 2359hrs.
The winners will be announced via The Ladies Cue Instagram. Redemption has to be made before 16 August.
Are you a Fempreneur too?
Connect with us – we’d love to feature you! Say hi to us at email@example.com or reach out to us via our social media.
Read TLC x Fempreneur Series:
- Margaret Wu, For Beloved One
- Nerissa Low, Liht Organics
- Pearline Foo, Spring Breeze Marketing
- Anna Milani, Sparkd
- 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.