Hey lovelies! How has your sunny Friday been so far?
Today IKIGUIDE has a treat for you– we interviewed Ms. Y.Y. Low, the co-founder of Hadara Aesthetic Boutique! Y.Y is a business lady, a model and a mother of two. Personally, I am inspired by her great sense of humility and a never-give-up attitude. In this interview, we find out more about her entrepreneurship journey, inspirations and satisfying moments.
IKIGUIDE: Hello Y.Y.! Thank you for your time today! Tell us more about Hadara. Was Hadara your childhood dream?
Y.Y: Hi IKIGUIDE! Thanks for having me today!
Hadara in Hebrew, means beauty, glory, and splendour.
I believe that beauty is definitely more than skin deep and aspire to be a place that not only provides quality beauty, slimming and wellness services but inspire people to see the inner beauty and potential in themselves. I came from a family of entrepreneurs however I never dream that I would own a business one day.
I used to battle with weight issues for many years of my life. As an overweight teenage girl, I had self-esteem and body image issues but had a secret desire to look like a model. In wanting to lose weight, I started all kinds of extreme exercises: high impact aerobics, ran 10 kilometres a day and also swam vigorously. I also resorted to slimming pills which did not work. I did not realise at the time that I was suffering from exercise bulimia where instead of vomiting out the food, I was exercising compulsively. It never occurred to me that I was suffering from poor body image.
Finally through these extreme means I managed to lose weight and joined a modelling agency in my early 20s. In the modelling industry however although I was tall, I was considered “too big” for the industry, and the people in my agency likened me to being “big and tall like a dinosaur”. I was told that in order to get modelling jobs I had to lose more weight. Even though I progressed to become an international model, there are times when I felt so deprived that I would start bingeing on food.
Hence my decision to become a Health psychologist was sparked by my own weight and self-esteem struggles. Prior to childbirth, I worked as a psychologist counselling overweight kids in the Health Promotion Board. After the birth of 2 kids, I managed to find a way to change my lifestyle and mind-set that enabled myself to lose weight and also maintain it without too much fuss. Having gone through weight and self-image issues first hand, it is my desire to help others who have similar struggles.
Since then, I became an entrepreneur and Principal Weight Management Consultant at Hadara and I would hope to help those who are motivated to want to see a change in their lives and aim to be healthier.
IKIGUIDE: We understand that you were a successful model previously and have even appeared in VOGUE! Why did you stop modelling?
Y.Y.: I started modelling very late because I wanted to focus on my studies. I started modelling only near the end of my Honours years in National University of Singapore (NUS), with Elite Modelling Agency. Subsequently I went to London for my Masters in Health Psychology, so I continued modelling there, however under a local agency. Jobs in London are good because of the buyers coming from all over the world to purchase from the big brands. I did a few seasons of showroom work for Hugo Boss Women, Vivienne Westwood and Betsy Johnson.
There were a few reason that I stopped, first being that I found out my agent was not totally honest with my fees, and at that point of time I was also thinking of either moving to live in Sweden for good or coming back to Singapore. Obviously I chose the latter.
IKIGUIDE: You probably have answered this question a trillion times already, but how do you manage to keep so fit and slim after childbirth?
Y.Y.: I never got tired of answering this question and never fail to see the expression of disbelief on people’s face when I told them I was overweight since 9 years old. I am not the genetically slim kind of person where I was never overweight all my life. I struggled with weight issues for a long time, even during modelling days. After two pregnancies, I put on 8kg which I could never shed. My diet was terrible because I had no time to take care of myself as a stay-home-mother, with no domestic help, and I will pack my children’s schedule completely. My diet was mainly oven-toasted frozen fried chicken with diet coke. My health was not good and fell sick quite easily.
One day I just decided to put myself on a detox program through my own research, it required a change of diet and lifestyle. I was focussed on eating healthily rather than losing weight. On first 3 weeks of the program, I did not lose any weight, however I persevered on healthy eating. The diet consisted mainly fish, vegetables and fruits. I cut out sugar, diary, processed food, and deep fried foods. I lost 10kg in about 6 months and since then I kept it off for more than 4 years, though I have resumed eating certain foods. However, I am still very stringent on intake of sugar and processed food.
IKIGUIDE: As a qualified health psychologist, and now a Principal Weight Management Consultant at Hadara, what tips do you have for our budding entrepreneurs when it comes to self-image, and self-presentation?
Y.Y.: As an entrepreneur, you need to persevere. It is like weight loss, you have to be motivated and focussed, however even when you fail at times, it is important to come back to it and not just give up.
On self-image and presentation, I genuinely still do not take care of myself as much as I should. However there are two areas which I am very conscious about, one external and one internal.
External, in terms of how we look, I feel it is important to take care of what we eat. My food intake and diet has become part of my lifestyle. I will always make sure I balance my intake of food, and there are days when I over-indulged, I will compensate with healthier food for other days.
Internal, in terms of what we think and believe. If we are able to believe the right things and have a healthy image of ourselves inside, we will naturally present ourselves right. It is a mental challenge. The sky is not the limit, our mind is. I think, therefore I am.
IKIGUIDE: What are some of the challenges you have faced as an entrepreneur?
Y.Y.: From a stay-at-home mother for 8 years and suddenly within a preparation of few months, I started Hadara together with my two partners. It was a great and extremely steep learning curve for me, from entering into the aesthetics market, to operations in running a spa, to marketing and public relations networking. I always challenge myself to do better and sometimes I do feel discouraged, but I would have to turn away from those moments and keep on going. I am greatly inspired by many entrepreneurs around me, and I learnt many things from them, and most of it I learnt the spirit of entrepreneurship. I think if I were to focus on the challenges, there will be countless, but I chose to focus on possibilities.
Recently through the passing on of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, I came across one of his speech and he said this, “”This is not an administration doing a job, this is entrepreneurship on a political stage on a National scale! We changed (!) The complexion of Singapore!” At his time, failure is not an option, and he did it. He was doing entrepreneurship on a national scale. As an entrepreneur, I aspire to have the never-say-die spirit like him.
IKIGUIDE: How about satisfying moments? What are some of the most meaningful encounters you have had on this journey?
Y.Y.: I think the most meaningful and satisfying encounters for me is still about people. The fellow entrepreneurs and friends who supported Hadara, people who believed in me. The other group of people are those I meet as customers, which I have a chance to help them in their lives, and be part of their journey.
IKIGUIDE: Before we end this interview, let us know one must-have treatment at Hadara for entrepreneurs!
Y.Y.: Every treatment in Hadara aims to “treat”, so we customise each treatment to suit every individual. For every skin type they need different treatments, be it acne, sensitive or ageing skin. Even for people who come to me for detox or weight management program, not all are overweight, some just want to be healthier, and I will advise accordingly.
But if I have to choose… I would recommend our Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapy to all entrepreneurs, because this is a stress-relieving, water-retention reducing, relaxing and immune boosting massage that enhances health for all.
We love how Y.Y. is so committed to helping ladies and gentlemen attain healthier, more vibrant lifestyles!
All photos lovingly provided by Hadara.