Passion and creativity drive your interest in creating something innovative and new into an industry. You will do just anything, even by dedicating your time to a business that you are passionate about no matter how hard the process may be.\u00a0 Starting as a dog owner for her Pomeranian, Vikki Tear saw a flaw in pet carriers. The market does not provide stylish and functional bags for passionate pet owners like Vikki. She had a vision and decided to create a line of her own for pet carriers. Mamahood was very honoured to have the opportunity to talk more with Vikki Tear and her journey in creating pet accessories to cater to pet owners' needs. 1. Mamahood: Inspirations tend to be from various sources. What is the inspiration behind this brand and why do you choose to start this business? Image credit: Vikki Tear The inspiration behind this brand SoyCraft - is my beloved little fluffy Pomeranian, Soya. Prior to SoyCraft, I have been running my own beauty and wellness e-commerce store (www.NakedBlend.co) for years. As an existing e-commerce business owner who encountered some pain points (as a pet owner\/pet product user), it was a very natural process for me to gravitate towards finding a solution for the dog-mum problem I was experiencing. As I go on with my day-to-day life with Soya, her lifestyle and habits further inspire me to continue conceptualising pet product ideas. I want to continue crafting more aesthetic and functional pet goods which will benefit more pets and pet owners. 2. Mamahood: Following up on the first question, what prompted you to start your own line of local stylish pet carriers? It first started as a dog-mum problem. In early 2021, I was shopping around for a pet carrier to bring my pup out. The pet carriers I found locally were either not very aesthetic\/stylish or lacking in some functionality. With most of the pet carriers I found locally, I still have to carry a separate bag to store my essentials, leading to an \u201cextra burden\u201d when I bring my pup out. Or they were either too hard and uncomfortable, or flimsy and lack of support for the pups. There are more pet carrier options if I order them from overseas, however, it is either cumbersome to order or much more expensive due to high shipping costs (pet carriers can be quite bulky). At that point, I thought to myself - if only there is a local pet brand which sells beautifully made, functional yet reasonably priced pet carriers, and can be easily accessible by the local community. My concept was to have one which can be easily converted from shoulder carry to cross-body and even to secure it safely to a dining chair when you are out eating with your pet (minimum 3-in-1 function pet carrier \u2013 and all these without losing style and comfort). Additionally, I want the pet carrier to have sufficient built-in storage to fit a pet owner\u2019s essentials (wallet, phones, wipes, treats, diapers). Most pet carrier retailers were made from China\/better qualities from the US. Pet carriers from the US were thicker as they were designed for four seasons like winter. From a worldwide increase in pet ownership to a dog-mum problem to noticing a product gap in the local market, I decided to craft my own brand of pet carriers by taking into consideration all the problems other dog mums and myself were facing.\u00a0 3. Mamahood: In your area of business, what are the challenges you faced as a women-led business? And how do you overcome that? Is there any difference in challenges before and after the pandemic? Before the pandemic, women-led businesses have long faced issues such as gaining access to financing and balancing work-life challenges. The pandemic has in a way exacerbated these issues.\u00a0 COVID-19 hit small to mid-sized businesses the hardest, which women are more likely to run. Research showed that 90% of women-led businesses have been more negatively impacted economically, experiencing a significant decrease in revenues. At the same time, we also have to take on the majority of increased childcare and household demands, affecting our productivity and health.\u00a0 While I do not have a human child, I have a fur-kid, Soya at home. This tiny little bundle of joy is a long-term commitment and responsibility. Support from home and the workplace has definitely helped me manage the challenges better. One way that has helped me mitigate stress and challenges is my husband\u2019s help. I am thankful that he is very hands-on when it comes to household and fur-kid responsibilities.\u00a0 At work, being adaptable about the situation (adopting new technology) and leveraging team members\u2019 strengths have definitely been helpful in managing the stress and business workflow ecosystem.\u00a0 On a bright note, the pandemic has also presented new business opportunities for women, especially in terms of online shopping and services. SoyCraft ships worldwide and fully harness the capabilities of digital and e-commerce to improve business productivity.\u00a0 4. Mamahood: As a pet business owner and a pet owner, what do you think is the importance of providing a comfortable environment for your pets? Image credit: Vikki Tear It is definitely of utmost importance, especially coming from a pet owner's point of view. These days, humans treat their pets like family members. As part of our family, we wouldn't want our fur-babies to live any less comfortably than us. From a pet business owner's point of view, I believe it is important for a domesticated pet to have a calm and comfortable environment. Pets that are anxious and have built-up energy may gradually develop undesirable behaviours. A clean, calm and comfortable environment also sets the tone right for your pet\u2019s physical and mental wellness.\u00a0 5. Mamahood: How do you find different ideas to incorporate into your business in order for it to grow and blossom? Personally, it always starts with a problem or pain point. As a pet owner, I shop for products to support my lifestyle with my pet. It is true that pet product businesses have been in the market for decades; there are countless pet businesses that sell everything you would need as a pet owner, thus it may be hard to think of a completely unique idea or product. That being said, products can always be made better. Like how smartphones are made better year on year. We cannot create a completely unique new phone, but we can work on making it better. More often than not, I look at a basic pet product and think about how I can make it better, more functional for the human, more comfortable for the pet.\u00a0 Getting into a calm mindset via meditation or yoga is important too for accessing clear thinking to translate your idea into a business plan. By taking time to clear your head you may have even more ideas. Usually, an idea will have real potential based on its persistence. Essentially, how frequently you persist in thinking about it and it can\u2019t seem to go away.\u00a0 Experimentation is also important - do not wait for the idea to be perfectly formed. Sometimes the best ideas do not sound promising initially, but then they become great upon execution. It would be better to find the core of your partially formed idea, try it out in a short period of time, and improve it on the ground as the business progresses.\u00a0 6. Mamahood: This is a famous question for Moms in business - how do you juggle your time with work, being a mother and a pet owner? For working mums or mums in business, balancing work and family life is the hardest and I have to say I am still a work-in-progress. I like to plan my schedule in advance, so I don\u2019t feel so all over the place. In between meetings, I like to leave small pockets of time, so I can respond to last-minute emergencies or do a short catch up with my family. Maintaining a healthy to-do list also helps me get a better overview of my pending tasks. That being said, it does not mean we have to complete everything on the to-do list within the same day and neglect our personal needs and family time. I was guilty of that in the past. I constantly had that inner desire to check everything off the list, and that certainly did not help with my personal life and mental wellness in the long run.\u00a0 I have learnt to push that inner \u201cstop\u201d button when it is time to stop work or put my work devices (laptop and phone) aside. At home, we have a weekly schedule where we plan family outings. I like to create calendar events for these family activities. This helps me \u201cblock out\u201d time, prioritise my tasks, and shift my energy for the activities that are coming up for the day.\u00a0 7. Mamahood: What is next for SoyCraft? What do you want to achieve next in the business? A number of products are currently in the R&D and sampling stage. We will be progressively launching more pet goods in the months to come. You can expect comfortable and aesthetic pieces that you would yearn to have on you and your pets. As a business, I certainly hope to build on the brand awareness and expand our brand awareness to overseas markets in the coming 1-2 years.\u00a0 8. Mamahood: In your opinion, how much experience do you need before starting your own business? Image credit: Vikki Tear Zero. Start as soon as you can! There is nothing to lose, you can learn as you go. Falling and experiencing setbacks are the best learning experience. Start-ups give us some of the most valuable business lessons. They are not smaller versions of larger companies. Rather you are performing several different roles a day.\u00a0 In my humble opinion, if you have these 3 Ps, that is all the \u201cexperience\u201d you need - a burning passion, a persistent mind to make it work and be prepared to fall a number of times. 9. Mamahood: Sometimes, there are things you wish you knew. Is there anything you wished you knew before starting your business? Yes. Firstly, to let go and not try and do everything myself. As a perfectionist and hoarder, I wanted to try to do everything myself, but over time, that resulted in high levels of burnout and reduced my productivity. Having a team, leveraging on your team members\u2019 strengths and capabilities is important. I have learnt to ask and accept help whenever I need them. You can run fast alone, but you can run further with a team. Also, paying for software when you are just starting out is a tough pill to swallow. But it will pay off in the long run as you reduce manual work and increase productivity. Evaluate the software based on lifetime value rather than immediate cost-benefit. More often than not when the team starts using a service, they start seeing significant benefits from it and it will pay for itself fairly quickly.\u00a0 10. Mamahood: Last but not least, what word of advice do you have for other mommies or women who wish to dabble into the business world for themselves? Image credit: Vikki Tear Starting and scaling a business is not a small task. In the early months of starting out, you will likely face many struggles. Similar to what I shared earlier, if you are equipped with the 3Ps (passion, persistence, be prepared to fall), your mindset is set for a good start. While long term goals are important, set yourself impactful and achievable actions that you can accomplish in the short term. This helps keep you on track and gives you opportunities to celebrate small wins as you grow with the business.\u00a0 Next, trust your instincts especially when you are uncertain about a decision. Don\u2019t be afraid to try - if a decision doesn\u2019t work out, learn from it. Your skills will grow with your business.\u00a0 Always find new ways to keep your business relevant. Meet new entrepreneurs, make new connections, find new ways to reach out to your customers, share experiences and skills via workshops and conferences. Also do talk directly to your customers for feedback and get to know your target market well. Explore ways to not only provide wonderful services or products but also a high-quality and memorable experience.\u00a0 Don\u2019t be afraid to take well-thought-out risks, stay resilient, flexible and keep pursuing your dreams.