[View in HD here.]
We’ve had the chance to talk to a lot of young Singaporeans who’ve chosen to walk the road less travelled lately, and Lynda Lye, owner of Little Odd Forest is one of them.
The interesting trend among these Singaporeans is how they often tell us, “Don’t do what I did,” yet somewhere in their journeys, there are many nuggets of wisdom for us (even younger) Singaporeans to learn from and continue to be inspired by.
Lynda Lye is the owner of Little Odd Forest (LOF), an online store selling adorable handmade crafts designed by Lynda herself. We dropped by her cosy home studio in Sengkang, where she conceptualizes her designs, and also sells one-of-a-kind prototypes, samples and discontinued products.
She shared with us her story of how LOF came to be; how she had little support from friends and family (save for her boyfriend, now husband) when she chose to leave her first job in Singapore after 8 months and start crafting, how she juggled giving tuition and designing in her earlier years, and how LOF eventually became what it is today.
With a visual communications background from an American university, Lynda told us how she’d wanted to be a fashion designer, but parental disapproval eventually led to a compromise in what she would pursue as a degree. Most surprisingly, she revealed to us that when she first started LOF, she had no sewing background to speak of, save for the days in secondary school where she did Home Economics like the rest of us here in Singapore.
With some help from a seamstress, she dived into a world she was not entirely familiar with, and found friends and crafters from other parts of the world online who helped her along the way as she walked out this journey. 6, 7 years from the day she started Little Odd Forest in 2004, Lynda’s work has found homes in various parts of the world, and she has a small workshop in the Philippines where her products are shipped to the rest of the world from.
The best thing (to me) about being able to meet people who are not so very many years older than you but have had the guts to do something different, is that they help to expand the boundaries of your dreams that little bit more. They give people like me, undergraduates who are on the cusp of being ushered out into a society where we are expected to be filial children who can support our parents, and also effective members of a workforce, a small boost to keep believing that entrepreneurship is very alive, and our generation is capable of embracing it very well while balancing our other responsibilities that we ought not forget.
Being one whose mind is constantly bombarded by ideas and a strong desire to start my own business, I have listened to the advice of many, who caution that a difficult road with plentiful mistakes (and possible starvation) lie before me. Growing up here, it is unfortunate that a certain measure of ‘siege mentality’ has led us, as a society, to be one that is averse towards risk-taking, which is the very foundation of entrepreneurship. [Guy Kawasaki, entrepreneur extraordinaire, shares some good insights on entrepreneurship in Singapore here.]
This path is certainly not for everyone, and there is much truth in the advice of these entrepreneurs who have walked the path before us – an entrepreneur is not (necessarily) a person who charges blindly into a gamble hoping it will pay off, but is also one who walks in boldly knowing what he wants to do, and having his research (and contacts) behind him to back him up.
Thanks Lynda, for inspiring us in your own way with your story.