#QSCelebratesWomen2024 series

#QSCelebratesWomen2024: Interview with Oh Siew Guat, the Lady Boss of Quan Shui Wet Market

" I feel really lao kui (embarrassed) that I had to rely on others to take care of my own children. But there was no other way I could have done this as we had to work full time and couldn’t afford a helper back then” - Oh Siew Guat

Welcome back to the third and final part of our #QSCelebratesWomen2024 series, where we share inspiring stories of the women we work with, their challenges, and their insights on gender equality.

To conclude this series, we want to celebrate Oh Siew Guat, the Lady Boss and Chief Butcher of Quan Shui Wet Market. She is one of the 9 children of our founder, Grandpa Oh Quan Shui, and took over the business from her parents in the 1990s.

From her early days of being an assistant at Grandpa Oh’s stall, working even on the day prior to delivering her firstborn, to her current role of leading the quality control of Quan Shui Wet Market’s fresh pork, Siew Guat’s journey is one of resilience, passion and sacrifice. 

Join us as we delve into her life to learn about what motivates her to still get up daily at 01:45 in the morning, what drives her passion for butchery and also why she felt “lao kui” (embarrassed) while balancing raising children and work. 

As we celebrate women this month, Jun He, her eldest son, decided to give her a break from cooking and prepared her favourite Prime Ribs Bak Kut Teh Set as well as the One-Pot Chicken and Mushroom ‘Claypot’ Rice Set that she has yet to try. 

While International Women’s Day may have passed, there’s no expiration date on showing appreciation for the women in your life - whether it’s your mom, wife, best friends or family. Hurry and make plans to cook her a home-cooked meal with our 10% off all recipe sets promotion, ending this month.

Can you introduce yourself and what do you do at Quan Shui Wet Market?

Hello, my name is Oh Siew Guat, and I am 60 years old this year. My main role is to purchase pork and ensure its quality at Quan Shui Wet Market. 

I maintain relationships with the largest pig importers in Singapore, do regular visits to their factories to understand their production and processing methods, and also do due diligence on the quality of their produce. If there’s anything unsatisfactory, I will then communicate with the factory’s in-charge to ensure that all fresh pork that we receive are top notch. 

Every morning, I also oversee the goods received, our butchers’ production and whether all fresh pork is prepared according to our standards.. Once everything is done, I will then release the fresh pork required for all our stores and also the online business. 

After which, I will remain at our main store at 156 Bt Batok St 11 and sell to our customers there.


To get a better glimpse into your life, can you tell us what a typical day is like for you? Do you still go down to the market daily?

Yes, I go down every day except Mondays when the market is closed. 

My day starts with the alarm going off at 1:45 a.m. After washing up, we head to our 156 Bukit Batok St 11 store to prepare and sort all the fresh pork needed for the day. After distributing all the fresh pork we need for the different stalls, we remain at the same stall to do our retail sales. We continue selling until the afternoon, after which I then place orders for pork that’s needed the next day. 

After lunch, I usually hike at Dairy Farm or Bt Timah Hill with my husband, before sometimes dropping by our Upper Thomson store before we head home.

When I return home around 6 p.m., I unwind by watching TV, listening to music, and singing at home. I go to bed when I'm tired, which can be as early as 7, 8, or 9 p.m., depending on the day.

My other passion is singing. Previously, I used to go for singing lessons but since COVID-19, my teacher stopped teaching and thus I didn’t continue doing this.

Let’s talk about your hobbies more! 

I used to be more diligent, hiking at Dairy Farm almost every day. However, I've become lazier lately and hiking has also become more taxing with age.

We still bring our shoes and clothes in the car, but only when the mood strikes, we head to Dairy Farm to hike. We still hike a few days every week.

Nowadays, I only sing at home since our teacher has stopped teaching. Previously, I used to sing at the Residents' Committee (RC), where they had a singing-focused class. I had been learning from the teacher for 6-7 years already. It's a pity because it's my hobby. If there's an opportunity, I will continue learning.

I also bought a lot of CDs to practise back then after the teacher taught us. I like Hokkien songs the best. My favourite is Wang Fei’s ‘Dui Dui Dui’. There are techniques to singing, such as how to pronounce and breathe. You can take a look at my collection here. 

What is your favourite dish to cook? Have you also used Quan Shui’s fresh pork in your cooking?

Of course. My family is the king of pork! My kids like to eat whatever I cook and I'll also cook whatever they like. Their favourite food is the one-pot dish where I combine pork ribs, pork belly, scallops, abalone, and fat choy. 

There’s no secret to cooking this dish; the freshness of the ingredients is the most important. I use white radish or sea cucumber as the base of the one-pot dish. Then, I will add the pork and shrimp at the end. You can use chicken as well, but pork will be more tender. Additionally, you can put in dried mushrooms. If you want to use fresh mushrooms, add them at the end. For the sauce, just add a little oyster sauce and a little water. Then it will be salty enough.

One of the family’s favourite dishes is lor bak (braised pork). Personally, I like pork belly the most. If you don’t know how to cook it, simply sprinkle salt on the pork belly and blanch it; you can eat it as is. Alternatively, slice it thinly and stir-fry it. Another common way to prepare it is by adding light sauce, bay leaf, and spring onion, and cooking it with the pork belly. If it turns out too salty, add a little sugar. It will be very delicious. 

Can you tell us about your journey with Quan Shui Wet Market, starting from Quan Shui Fresh Pork to now? How many years have you been working there?

I started working in the 1980s at Quan Shui Fresh Pork, which was my father’s first stall at Kebun Baru Market.  Most of my siblings all helped out at some point but most of them stopped after getting married or went on to do their own businesses.

When it came to my turn, I decided to help my father run the store full time because it seemed fun and interesting to me.

Initially, I was there to only observe and assist. However, as I observed others and realised, “Eh, how come the business next door is so good, or the meat is so beautifully arranged?” I took initiative and tried to improve our store by imitating them on how to communicate with customers and display our pork.

These are some of my happiest memories.

I slowly improved myself and gradually started working at the store full time, committing 100% to learning how to do this. Back then, we received the whole pig and had to prepare it ourselves, starting by removing the head, cutting it in half, and then deboning it part by part. This is how I eventually mastered the skill of butchering as I had to do everything from scratch! Today, it’s much easier as you can order directly from factories, parts that are already pre-processed for you. 

Reflecting on it now, it was actually quite fun. It seems not too long since I started, but I have already been doing this for around 40 years. 

Where did you learn all the skills to be a butcher? Did your father teach you everything? 

Yes, my father taught me, patiently guiding me through the process. I didn’t know how to debone at the start, and I would get frustrated. I was still young then. My father, however, had a very good temperament. He calmly instructed me and guided me on how to use different knives, encouraging me and reassuring me, saying, "Once you get used to it, it’s OK. There’s nothing to worry about."

What motivated you to join your father’s business and eventually lead the family business?

I want to join my father’s business because I’m very interested. Most of my siblings all helped out with selling pork at some point in time,  but they only did it for a period of time before stopping. For example, an elder sibling would help till they got married, then another family member took over, and the cycle continued. When it was my turn, after getting married, I wanted to continue leading the family business, and I want to thank my husband because he didn't object.

In your 40 years at Quan Shui, what are some memorable moments in your career?

One of the most memorable moments would be the 1999 Nipah Flu Virus outbreak.

Initially, I was very happy for the first week because having a day off is rare for me. However, a day off slowly became a week off and over time, we started to not have our income. We didn't know what to do until the pigs started to come in. It was a very memorable event because we had almost 0 income for the entire year. 

After the Nipah Flu outbreak, it took very longer for Singaporeans to restart consuming pork. We had to slowly convince customers and explain to them that regulations and safety checks for pork in Singapore are very strict and so the pork is safe to consume.

Another memorable moment was when Jun He and Emily came to help when COVID-19 struck. We were overjoyed because we didn't expect them to take over. Previously, we had concerns about the future of our business and what would happen if no one took over. It left us feeling uncertain.

We weren't sure why Emily and Jun He decided to help, but perhaps Emily saw how hard it was for us. She witnessed our daily routine of getting up in the middle of the night and working until one or two in the afternoon. It was a challenging time for us. Then, suddenly, they came to help us. This gesture touched us deeply. We didn't expect it.

Now, they are putting in a lot of effort to develop the online aspect of the business. We will support them wholeheartedly.

As Jun He and Emily made the effort to take the business online, how did the process of moving online happen?

Initially, we didn't have a brand and nobody knew us well. It was challenging because there were only 3 or 5 orders a day. At that time, our online business hadn't officially launched yet. We would get small orders through our children’s friends, or via our neighbours that were from the same estate. They would place orders, we would pack from home, and then deliver to their doorstep.

Subsequently, Jun He and Emily became more involved in the online business. They researched how to increase the visibility of our business nationwide and marketed the high quality of our fresh pork through the website. We mainly handle the operational aspects, but they come to us whenever they have questions. We often gather as a family to discuss how to improve the business operations.

How do you think others generally find butchery and sell meat at the markets? Do you think differently from them?

They all say, "Uh, it's so bloody," and "The pig's intestines are dirty and smelly." Some of them don't even dare to get close, but I'm different. I'm really interested in the craft and that's how I've persisted until today.

What are some of the challenges you've faced as a woman in the meat industry, and how have you overcome them? Have you encountered any comments from family or friends regarding your work in butchery?

When I first started selling, especially in Bukit Batok, people next door would say, "Oh, look at this little girl. She'll probably give up in less than half a year." However, I proved to them with my own strength that I could succeed with my honest skills. I guess it's not bad that I have survived until today. 

They may think, "Girls so weak, can meh?" It's just their assumption. Most of the time when doing business, people hope for the best for themselves and the worst for others, not necessarily so because I’m a woman.

Generally, I don’t encounter any harsh comments from others. It’s probably because we've worked in the same neighbourhood for over 20 years, so we are all used to it and don’t think much of it.

Other challenges I've experienced can happen in any job. Some customers are very good. Some are very overbearing. For example, our meat can be very fresh and prepared on the same morning of sales, but you will definitely have customers who will think otherwise based on their perception of what is ‘fresh’.

Even if our meat is reasonably priced, some will still want to bargain or even get it for free. I have experienced all kinds of situations. I try to endure and not argue with customers.

Considering your petite frame, is it hard to perform laborious tasks such as cutting big sized pork or lifting heavy objects?

No, it isn’t hard. You just need to have a sharp knife and good technique. For example, it’s easy to cut at the joints and so you just need to identify the most efficient point to chop. Of course, I didn’t have these skills back then and used brute force, often causing meat to become mushy and ugly. 

Nevertheless, this role is very laborious and it takes more out of me as I am petite. When I'm sick and my energy is low, I might sometimes struggle and these are times when I will also accidentally cut myself.

How has your family supported you in your journey with Quan Shui Wet Market?

My husband, Pork Boss! He is very supportive of me. He used to run a contractor business and was completely uninvolved in this. However, he thought it was hard for me to do everything by myself, so he came down to help. 

He now helps to sell at the stall, while I'm in charge of ordering and purchasing the pork. He provides me with a lot of emotional and mental support as well. His involvement is also why we were able to open more branches. 

Whenever we open new branches, my husband goes to the new store to help out for the first few months while I remain at our main store at Bt Batok.

During your generation, there was a perception that women must conform to certain responsibilities, such as cooking and doing household chores. Have you ever felt this way?

Maybe I was born into a happy family. My parents didn't discriminate against women. My mother gave birth to seven daughters, so perhaps it was my grandmother who preferred sons. At that time, we had so many daughters, but my grandmother only carried the boys on her back; the rest of us were on the ground. That's what I heard from my parents when we were still very young. However, in my generation, my parents were really good, and I can't find any better parents than them. They all loved us equally.

In my generation, we didn’t go against societal expectations placed on women. If our husbands told us to stay home to care for the children and family, we would just accept it. I don’t view it as discrimination either. It was normal in those times. When we lived in the kampung, we had our own crops and livestock, so it wasn't necessary for us to go out to work; life was simple. We spent our days taking care of our family. Nowadays, times have changed, and everything is much more expensive, which is why both husbands and wives have to go out to work.

How did you manage between the roles of being a mom and your job?

I gave birth to 3 kids and I really have to thank my second sister who helped me take care of them.

Thinking about this, I feel really lao kui (embarrassed) that I had to rely on others to take care of my own children. But there was no other way I could have done this as we had to work full time and couldn’t afford a helper back then.

It was really hard  - I even worked till the day before the delivery of my firstborn and only took one month of maternity leave! I’m thankful for my sisters who helped out when I was on leave back then.

As we worked long hours daily, I had to leave the children at my sister’s for 5-6 days in the week. I would only bring them home on Sundays, spend time with them on our only off day on Monday, before fetching them back to my sister’s on Monday night.

This routine continued for all three of my sons and we only managed to hire a helper after the youngest was born. This gave me more time to spend with my children as we could spend time together after my work and after their school. 

What advice do you have for our generation as a mother?

I think you must appreciate and enjoy the time with the kids while you can. Look at us, we are 60 years old now, and those moments exist only in our memories. Now that our kids are grown up and have their own lives, they hardly have time to be by our sides. Sometimes I wish they had grown up faster, but then other times I wish they had grown up slower. All parents feel that way.

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#QSCelebratesWomen2024: Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs - Interview with Rachel Lim, Founder of Maelstrom Home

"Before I launched the brand, I was worried that as a female, I wouldn’t have a voice in meetings or during pitches. I wondered, “Will people believe in what I’m trying to say?“. - Rachel Lim

Welcome back to our series of #QSCelebratesWomen2024, where we share stories of the women we work with, the challenges and stereotypes they experience, and their insights on what more can be done for women.

In this second part of the #QSCelebratesWomen2024 series, we had the privilege of interviewing Rachel Lim, the founder of Maelstrom and got insights to the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in Singapore, especially women as they operate in an environment where only 27% of businesses are women-owned. She also shared on how she managed to overcome them, as well as what more she feels can be done by women to succeed. 

As we celebrate women this month, we are delighted to treat Rachel to some home cooked Pork Katsu from our All-in-one Recipe Set collection. As a busy entrepreneur, she rarely gets the time to enjoy a home-cooked meal and thus we decided to pamper her on her day off!

We urge all of you to do the same, to cook for the women in your lives this month - enjoy a 10% discount on our All-in-one Recipe Sets  for the IWD month of March!

Stay tuned for more stories next Friday as we aim to bring more visibility to the challenges faced by women in Singapore and start conversations on achieving gender equality.

Can you share a bit about yourself and what inspired you to become an entrepreneur? 

I’m Rachel, the founder of Maelstrom. 

I think I have always been interested in business because my father was a businessman. Growing up, I looked up to him, watching him run his business and thinking, "Okay, one day I want to be like him." People have always told me that if I want to succeed in life, I need to become a lawyer or a doctor to earn money.

However, I found my passion elsewhere, and I've always been dabbling in different businesses ever since I was young selling K-pop cards, running a thrift store, and starting surfing school. 

From there, I went on to study business. Business is something that is in me. I always feel the need to be doing something in business. 

Choose three words/identities you associate with, and can you explain why you chose these three words?

1. Unentitled 

I grew up in a tough love environment, where I had to work hard for everything I have. This upbringing taught me that nothing comes easy, which is why I consider myself unentitled. It has allowed me to really fight for the things I want.

2. Ambitious 

I always believe in dreaming big; many of the things I’ve achieved started as just a dream. For example, the car and the warehouse we have now were things we never thought we could achieve as a small business. But because I had set them as goals, I believe that by doing that, you will manifest them, and you will act on them.

3. Resourceful 

When I started this business, we didn’t have many resources in terms of capital or assets. Hence, I had to make it work with whatever was available, even if it’s limited it may be. My resourcefulness allowed me to seize many opportunities.

If I spot different opportunities, I’ll try to make them work instead of just letting them pass by and I will find different ways to make things work.

How did you come about creating Maelstrom and briefly share with us what this business is about?

I co-founded this with my best friend. Back then, we were discussing what kind of business we could run. We talked about other businesses, like fashion, but then realised there's a gap in the market for aesthetic tableware that is still affordable and can be used in daily life for normal meals.

As a result, we bought some new tableware and tested it with a small market. The feedback we received was positive; it did elevate the dining experience. This has always been our mission: to elevate a simple dining experience. That’s how Maelstrom grew. We want to bring something more appealing for daily use and affordable as well.

To get a better glimpse into your life, could you tell us what a typical day is like for you?

I typically leave the house by 10 a.m and spend the rest of the day outside, either at the warehouse or in meetings. I usually return home only to rest at night. 

Before I had a warehouse, I would stay at home all day, using the laptop, replying to customers, and preparing everything. Then, I would sleep, wake up, and work at home again. There was no separation between work and home.

If you live my life, it’s really all about work. While it may seem glamorous to my friends that I don’t have to go to a corporate job, the reality is that I've had to make many sacrifices, staying up very late and not getting to go out with friends that often.

If you weren’t a business owner, what’s one other occupation you would want to do!

I would be an early childhood teacher or educator. I love kids and the energy they have. When I was doing my part-time gigs, I taught kindergarten art as a tuition teacher, teaching some of the kids in the neighbourhood.

I applied for early childhood at a local university, but I got rejected. So I guess it's fate, right? I got rejected, and my next offer was marketing.

What’s your favourite Maelstrom piece, and show us!

My current favourite piece is the Persian Blue Scalloped Oval Plate, which is also my current favourite colour. I think it's a colour that really stands out. (this piece happens to be really popular at Quan Shui Wet Market as well as it’s sold out almost instantly whenever it’s restocked!)

Could you share with us what’s your most memorable Maelstrom piece, what you have learned from it, and why it is so special?

One of the most memorable pieces for me is from my first collection. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of those exact products anymore since I sold all of them. When I tried to reorder, I realised that each batch is different.

This was a valuable learning experience for me. I started this business without any specialised knowledge of tableware. I discovered that every batch turns out differently. So, I was never able to replicate my first-ever piece, which was a pistachio grey plate that people really loved.

We’ve learnt that each batch of our handcrafted pieces varies due to the use of natural soil sourced from different mountains. Additionally, our glazes are made from natural materials. This results in the final colour of each batch to be constantly evolving, adding to the individuality of our creations.

That’s why we have also learnt that it’s important to have our pieces at retail stores, so that customers can see, touch and feel the pieces in person and thus understand and accept these variations.

If you could only choose one to use for the rest of your life, which one would you choose: 

Plates or bowls? 

 I'll choose a bowl for sure. Bowl is the most versatile one.

Fork or spoon?

Spoon. My spoon and my bowl will be able to carry me to a lot of places. I can eat literally anything with a spoon.

Name one of your biggest strengths!

I'm adaptable. I think this is the million-dollar question that all interviewers ask, right?

So if I go for a job interview, I tell them I'm adaptable. You can put me into different situations, and I can find ways to survive and make things work.

International Women's Day (IWD) is a celebration of women's achievements and values. In Singapore, only 27% of businesses are women-owned, and you are one of them.

What were some of the worries or concerns you had, especially as a female entrepreneur in Singapore, when you first started out?

Before I launched the brand, I was worried that as a female, I wouldn't have a voice in meetings or during pitches. I wondered, "Will people believe in what I'm trying to say?".

Another worry was whether people would accept my brand. "Would the market think this is something nice that they would use at home?" or "Will the market even accept my aesthetic, my taste, and what we put out to the market?

Thankfully, the customers, clients and partners who I met on this journey are progressive and really accepting!

What are some common stereotypes about women in entrepreneurship that you've encountered or experienced? Are there any harsh comments or have people looked down on you and how did you handle these comments? 

In my experience, most people are very nice and see women entrepreneurs as a positive thing. However, sometimes, there are people who don’t understand why women want to start a business.

As a woman entrepreneur, I would get asked, “Why don’t you just get a full-time job, get married, and live a stable life? Why go through the hassle of starting a business?”

Whenever I represented my business and pitched, there was always a doubt if I’m really the one who’s running the business, as they would ask if I’m representing someone else.

Even when I represented my business at the department store, I got mistaken for a promoter. And if I said that it’s my business, they even asked if it was my father’s business or a business passed down through generations, despite Maelstrom being something I built from the ground up.

While my family is supportive, there is still doubt about whether this business is something I will choose as my career forever. They often check in, 'Oh, you're still doing this business, right? Is it doing okay? Is it scalable?'

While I understand that people may be curious or concerned about me, hearing these comments that they still think this way, there might be other people who are more doubtful when it comes to women running a business. 

Additionally, I recently had a friend ask me if I would just stay at home and take care of my kids if I got married. I responded, 'Can I do both?' He then said, 'How can you take care of your kids and also run a business? You have to choose.' While I agree that motherhood is a huge responsibility and I may give up my business to take care of a child, that doesn't mean that women are incapable of handling both roles. Even at this point in my life, I'm already wearing so many hats, so why must I be limited to choosing just one?

I think surprisingly, the harsh comments I receive are often from other business owners, notably men who run established businesses. I have experienced them not taking me seriously and saying, “Okay, this feels like a ‘passion project’. I’ll just support you because it’s like a fun hobby project to you.”

I get that a lot from men, older people, and even my relatives. Often, they think the business I’m doing is not serious and say, “Okay, just play for a while. When you’re tired, you’ll move on.”

Other stereotypes are like, “All women are very emotional and very weak. If you face something that’s too challenging, you probably just break down.” which I think it’s not true.

I was brought up by my grandmother, and she has a lot of discipline and resilience. I see these traits in her, and they have followed me throughout my journey. I think as women, we are strong. We can take on challenges just like men and navigate them with empathy. I don’t think we are any inferior to them.

Despite all the stereotypes and harsh comments, what motivates you to keep going and how do you take care of yourself?

I think I’m just a rebel at heart. Growing up, whenever my friends said I couldn’t do something, I would just do it and bear the consequences, of course.

In terms of business, I adopt the same approach—I take action and let the results speak for themselves.

With Maelstrom, I’m motivated to change up the tableware scene. When I look at what’s available in the market, I feel like there’s so much more that can be done, not just by myself. I welcome different people to bring in new ceramics to freshen up this space. 

Most of the options in the market are from very old legacy brands. I believe that as a young brand, by introducing new designs, we can increase our competitiveness and bring fresh perspectives. 

That’s what motivates me. Being a small business, we can bring new things and it’s easy for us to change. We have the flexibility to try anything, fail, redo, and try again.

As an entrepreneur, I'm constantly reminded of work. However, I try to go to Johor Bahru (JB) every weekend with different friends to try different experiences. Recently, a friend introduced me to fishing, and we went to Kukup! We rented fishing rods, spent the evening off our phones, and caught fish. It was good to spend time away from work.

Whenever there’s a chance, I travel to see the world. I also use these opportunities to understand different cultures, including the pottery scene.

Who are some of the figures in your life that supported you along the way

Definitely my father. I’m grateful that he provided me with an environment to pursue what I like. At least I’m not burdened with immediate financial responsibilities like paying bills and such.

I have had quite a comfortable environment to start and space to store my products. I cannot imagine starting out having to rent space from the beginning. I think I wouldn’t have lasted more than half a year; I would have run out of money by then.

Other than my father, my greatest inspiration in life would definitely be my grandmother. I was brought up by her. When my father was out working hard, she was the one who raised three kids including me. She was the one who kept the entire house in order without a helper throughout my 26 years of life. 

She managed everything, even when I had three dogs. Witnessing her ability to handle so much makes me feel like I have no right to complain. If she could do all that without much education, then what excuse do I have?

One of her regrets is that if she had more money, she would have studied and probably travelled the world. So, a reason why I work so hard is to earn money to help her realise her dreams that she couldn’t because she had to take care of us.

Her resilience truly inspires and motivates me.

It must not have been easy on this journey of being an entrepreneur and on top of that, being a woman in such a male dominated industry. In general, what do you think are the biggest challenges women entrepreneurs face today? 

One of the biggest challenges is the lack of community. I may be unaware, but whenever I go to networking sessions or entrepreneurship clubs, I see a lot of men and I feel intimidated. I worry that if I attend, will I be listened to? Will they think it’s just a ‘passion project’ again?

It would be nice if there’s a support system, a close community of people, especially women who probably face the same problems.

On this journey, I actually met a lot of brand owners who are women as well.
When we sit down and talk, we realise we face the same problems. For example, we have a lack of resources. We don’t have a place to feature our goods or enough space to store them.

We also struggle with finding the best accounting system or how to run e-commerce.

It would be nicer if people collaborated together, even women-led businesses coming together.

I think by growing this space as a community, we can support each other and compete with bigger companies out there instead of competing against each other.

What do you think women can do more to help break these barriers and stereotypes?

In the context of women entrepreneurship, I believe women can first come together as a community to discuss the challenges we face. Instead of trying to figure things out alone, having a community means we can ask for help and move forward faster.

We can celebrate small achievements together. No matter how small they may seem, sharing our successes can show others, including men, that we are taking action and making progress, not just talking about it.

Is there a particular female figure that inspires you?

I really like the founder of Love Bonito, Rachel Lim.

Not only because we share the same name, but also because I remember when she came to my polytechnic school to give a speech; her story with Love Bonito really inspired me.

She started during the pre-e-commerce period, packing her stuff in her house. It was quite similar to what I was doing with my thrift store at that time. I thought, if she can scale her business to such a massive size, then I can do it too. 

I was very inspired by her as her brand grew beyond just selling clothes; she empowers women and brings a lot of confidence in them. To this day, I always follow her updates. I would love to meet her in person one day.

I used to work for Love Bonito as well, as one of their part-timers. I really love their whole concept. They don’t do things just for money; they also do it for the entire women’s community, which is something I really appreciate.

I kept thinking about this brand and wanting to work in this space to see how she leads and runs a business. She’s a mom of two and still manages to do so much, which is truly impressive. I listened to all her podcasts, and through her, I realised that there are actually some support systems in Singapore for women. 

Any words of encouragement do you have to all the females out there who might be thinking of starting their business as well?

Just do it. Don’t overthink it. Dream big.

Often, we tend to be perfectionists, focusing on things like the logo, branding, or website platform, and spending days deciding. But in reality, the market will tell you whether it works or not, so just launch your product and refine it as you go.

Don’t be afraid to set aside your ego and ask questions. I’ve noticed that many men let their egos get in the way, but actually, women are more open to asking questions and having heart-to-heart conversations, which often leads to more ideas flowing.

I like to live by this quote: “If your dream doesn’t scare you, then it’s not big enough.” So, think big and work towards it step by step. The universe will help you get there.

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#QSCelebratesWomen2024: International Women's Day Interview with Jingwensathome

"As men, we should stand up for women and support them against stereotypes and expectations. Listen to their stories and acknowledge the existence of individual injustices. Just because we don't see them doesn't mean they don't exist." - Bryan 

International Women’s Day (IWD) aims to celebrate the achievements of women, raise awareness of the discrimination faced by them and what can be done to achieve gender equality. 

At Quan Shui Wet Market, we have decided to make this a month-long campaign to bring more visibility to the challenges faced by women in SG and also start conversations on what more can be done to achieve gender equality. 

Through food, we are offering a month-long 10% discount on our All-in-one Recipe Sets to encourage cooking for the women in your life. Through this, we intend to break the stereotype that wives or moms need to be the ones in the kitchen to cook for the family, and instead that everyone in the household can contribute, regardless of gender. 

Additionally, on each Friday of this month, we will also be sharing some stories of the women that we work with, the challenges and stereotypes that they experience, and their insights on what more can be done for women. 

To kickstart our series for #QSCelebratesWomen2024, we spoke with Tiffany and Bryan, the duo behind the Instagram account @jingwensathome.

Tiffany and Bryan are both working, with Bryan travelling overseas quite frequently for work. 

In this blog post, we will take a look at how Bryan celebrates his wife and Tiffany’s views on how couples in a similar situation can support each other.

We are thankful for their time on a lovely Saturday afternoon and learnt so much about their lives as a couple, their approach to household responsibilities and views on gender stereotypes.

Could you introduce yourselves?

Hi, we are Tiffany and Bryan, also known as Jingwen because we have the same Chinese name. We also have four cats, August, Austin, Audi, and Auri. 

Tell us more about your Instagram account! How did the IG account @jingwensathome come about?

Initially, it started out when we were shopping for our first home together. It began as a home renovation IG account to document our journey, such as deciding between a resale and BTO, going through the ID selection process, and dealing with hiccups along the way. 

Now, after two years, it has evolved into more than just home stuff. I guess it's about how we live our lives, including our cats, and trying to bring value to people around us.

What kind of content can people expect when they follow your account?

How life is as a cat owner and first-time homeowner. There are so many things that you need to take note of that you previously didn’t really know about, like plumbing or electricity, or which vacuum is better.

I think a lot of young couples can probably resonate with who to pay for a new house, what to buy, what not to buy, and what services to use or not. These can be very helpful. 

Three words to describe what people can expect when they follow your account.

  • Cats - a lot of cats 
  • Adulting - adulting in Singapore
  • Recommendations

Who manages the IG account @jingwensathome? 

Tiffany: I manage the account, but Bryan supports me in some ways. Like if I need somebody to run an idea by, then I’ll check in with him. He also helps me vet the words and everything so I just feel more assured.

Bryan: I'm just an extra pair of hands for her and for her to bounce ideas off. If she needs someone to take a video of me and the cats, then I'm there. She plans out all the content and manages the account. 

Could you tell us a little bit about how you both handle things at home and how you split your responsibilities? Share what are your typical day-to-day tasks.'

Who cooks day to day? Tiffany

What about day to day cleaning? Do you all split? 

Tiffany: Not to the T, but somehow it has ended up being quite equal. Tiffany usually cooks and Bryan usually does the dishes. Tiff washes and hangs the laundry while Bryan brings in and folds the clothes.

Who feeds the cats? Whoever's around. Both as well.

Let’s play a game with the cats. Do they have a preferred pawrent? 

If each of you held treats in your hands, who would the cats go first? 

Result: Tiffany won! 

  • Bryan - Auri 
  • Tiffany - Gus and Audi 
  • [Error 404: Austin not found]

Bryan, what are three adjectives you would use to describe Tiffany?

  1. Diligent
  2. Independent -  she's an independent thinker
  3. Generous

Bryan: Anyone who knows Tiff through her life, knows that she consistently stays on top of things and gets things done. This applies to her studies, her work, her IG account, being a wife, or being a cat mother. So, I think that’s her superpower. She’s diligent.

Those who follow her on Instagram might see that she breaks down quite often, and that happens to her as an individual. But somehow, when it comes to her responsibilities and things around her, she will get them done. She will make sure that they meet her standards. And her standards are pretty high.

As a husband, how do you celebrate your wife, Tiffany, and how do you contribute to your daily life together?

Bryan: Since I travel often for work, I prioritise all my time with Tiff whenever I’m back.

When it comes to chores, I do more than my fair share as I try to make up for the days that I was not in Singapore. For example, her friends just came over last night and it's her gathering, but I cleaned up after them just so they can spend more quality time together.

For International Women’s Day, I decided to celebrate my wife and cooked Quan Shui Wet Market’s Bone-In Pork Chops Set, which is one of our go-to favourites. It’s foolproof, so if I can cook this, so can you. To complete the feast, I also made Rosti, which was my first time making it, including roasted vegetables with broccoli and asparagus.

What about you Tiffany? What are the things Bryan does to contribute to your daily life and celebrate you as a wife? 

Tiffany: Oh I can think of so many things he has done for me, even small things like thanking me for cooking before we start eating, which has become a habit. 

Also, whenever I create content for @jingwensathome, he helps me vet ideas or gives input. Whenever I'm stuck, he steps in and we bounce ideas off each other. Even though creating content isn't something he enjoys, he does it because it's important to me. 

What do you think are some stereotypes and expectations that women in SG face? 

Tiffany: I feel that single women might face a lot more harsh comments and questions like "Oh, you better find a man soon" while for a single man, people would inherently think more positively, viewing him as a career-focused and career-driven individual.

Bryan: This is a tough one. I doubt I can answer this one well so I’m hoping I can divert everyone to the lyrics of Taylor Swift’s ‘The Man’. 

How do you think Tiffany performs against these expectations?

Bryan: As shared earlier, one adjective that I’d describe Tiffany with is her independent thinking. Those who know her would have seen her go against certain norms or expectations at some point in her life. And when doing so, she’s not embarrassed or shameful about it. She simply does what she believes is right. 

It seems that the tasks done at home are split quite evenly with both of you doing a fair share of housework! 

What do you think others in SG can do more for women to emulate the both of you? And what can men in SG do more for women in SG?

Tiffany: I think everybody needs to understand that IWD is not against men.

Some people have the wrong impression, I think the first step for everybody is to understand  as a baseline, and acknowledge that there are still stereotypes regarding women belonging in the household or kitchen. On the flip side, because of this, we must also acknowledge the stereotypes placed on men, how they are not supposed to show their feelings or be sensitive.

If men and women both try to understand each other and support each other in breaking stereotypes, resulting in men starting to speak up about their feelings and showing another side of themselves, then I feel like the role of women will naturally become more balanced and lead to a more inclusive and empathetic society. 

Bryan: Since the cost of living in Singapore is high, dual-income families have almost become a necessity. However, there are still families that expect the wife to take on the entire responsibility of the home, which I disagree with.

As a man, we should acknowledge that stereotypes still exist and try to be empathetic towards our female counterparts. 

Aside from being understanding and empathetic, we as men can give them the benefit of the doubt and listening ear. Let them know that their experiences are relevant and real. Do not discount them or dismiss them by saying, ‘Oh, that’s in the past, times have changed,’ which can be very insensitive.

As men, we should stand up for women and support them against stereotypes and expectations. Listen to their stories and acknowledge the existence of individual injustices. Just because we don't see them doesn't mean they don't exist.

Shifting the conversation to you, Tiffany, what does it mean to be a woman in SG? 

Tiffany: Honestly, the first word that came to my mind is like, it's safe here. I don't feel worried if the sun has gone down. I feel relatively confident that I can walk the streets alone myself. I think  I'm in a very lucky position to be able to do that as a woman.

What are some of the challenges and difficulties you personally face?

Tiffany: My workplace is progressive so I personally don’t experience a lot of discrimination. I’m lucky that my parents treated me and my brother equally as well.

But I do feel the pressure of staying home with four cats, especially from the older generation (e.g my grandmother scolds me when I show her pics of my cats and asks me where’s the baby).

There is still a general societal pressure to be a stay at home mom and give birth. Especially during CNY, I always get questions on when we will have kids, which usually we close an eye to, because it could just be an icebreaker / small talk question.

But it’s a bit overboard when they say things like “Just give birth and then quit, then ask Bryan to work and support you la”. This makes me feel reduced as a person to just a baby making machine or something.

How did you get to where you are today?

Tiffany: I’m lucky to have been treated equally growing up and also at the workplace. I’m just imagining that the equal opportunities that I’ve experienced thus far might not have happened for other women. They could all have become potential blockers that would prevent me from being where I am today. 

Since Bryan travels twice a month, how do you then juggle all these expectations of your day-to-day roles at work and at home, and still fulfil your responsibilities? How do you wear so many hats and still create content for your IG account @jingwensathome?

Tiffany: It’s not easy, but I don’t think this question is about whether I’m a woman or not. I just see it as, ‘okay, if something comes up, I need to take on more responsibilities.’ Even if I’m a guy or a girl, if my partner goes overseas, I will help take on more household responsibilities.

Finally, do you have tips for wives who are in similar positions having to juggle work and chores also.

Tiffany: I just get it done. I’m very lucky to have Bryan who does things when he’s around and we are equal in what we do in terms of tasks. 

My advice to anyone is, if you feel that there's an imbalance, you should bring it up. Speak up instead of letting resentment build. Don't stay silent and go along with things, because if you're silent, then you are basically a proponent of inequality, even if you don't believe in it.

If you both come back home from work and you feel like you're doing more, then you have to speak up.

You need to have all these difficult conversations. If not, the situation won't change.

The tasks won’t always be split equally. There have also been times when Bryan has also raised the fact that I'm not doing enough, or that he feels underappreciated because he's doing so much. So beyond trying to split the responsibilities, sometimes it can be as simple as showing affirmation and appreciation for your partner.

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