neither praises nor insults

July 13, 2018

I haven’t been blogging about work much lately because (a) so many things are happening so fast and at the same time so by the time I’m on it, it’s already old news and I’m on the next thing and (b) work is taking up a lot of my time, for good reasons. In a super duper brief nutshell, we had two big institutions invest in the FashionValet Group this year for our Series C funding, we opened more retail outlets, we restructured the other business units under the group like private labels and brand acquisitions, we are focusing on building more brands. As for dUCk, it’s been doing amazingly well – we opened at KLCC (next to Chanel and Dior!!) and dUCk Cosmetics even got into Sephora which is something unheard of for the local cosmetics industry.

Personally, Fadza and I had to step up and grow up as leaders and make difficult decisions like cutting unprofitable projects and letting go off members who weren’t performing. It’s been a real “welcome to the real world” half year so far, and as much as there were good times, there were tough times too. On top of it all, being dubbed “young icons”, we are constantly being watched and scrutinised by the public for every move we make and every word we say. There was an interview that I did at an event and the interviewer asked me “Would FV ever IPO in the future?” and me being me, I was like “Yeah never say never, it would be one of the options definitely.” And bam, the next day, big headlines in the newspapers “FashionValet is listing.” I received so many congratulatory messages that day, and though the attention may be good, it also put a lot of pressure on us unnecessarily. Fadza was very uncomfortable that day. #oops

Even small ridiculous things like me unfollowing people on Instagram becomes a viral thing – I actually regularly follow new people and unfollow accounts I no longer enjoy, I didn’t know that was something juicy to the public! Because social media is a huge part of FV and myself, people who work at FV also tend to grow fame if they choose to be public. And they also tend to get hit with gossip or if they decide to resign one day, it becomes hot juicy story for the public – people start coming up with theories that FV must be horrible or I must be horrible or anything at all that they can think of. I’m like wow there are 200 people working in the group, and because a few move on to other things, we are suddenly horrible? Isn’t employees coming and going normal in a company – their companies don’t have resignations? People move on and that’s ok! One employee resigned and unfortunately had a miscarriage after, and the story came out that I must’ve caused it – like wow, how did I suddenly get in the picture? I have 10 other ladies in the office who got pregnant and gave birth – but no one wants to talk about that? There are always two sides of the story, but I’ve learned that more often than not, I should never engage. It’s all very biased to whatever is juicier to talk about and the social media world is craving new juice to talk about everyday.

Another thing that recently happened also was that after a meeting with a group of important people, I was swarmed by reporters with mics and recorders to my face asking me what are my suggestions to better the youth. I recapped some suggestions I had pitched earlier, and one of it was improving English usage to improve our confidence so we can expand globally. A few media channels took just that as my only suggestion and bam, people starting bashing me saying there are more pressing matters and that I was just being arrogant because “dia terer speaking dia boleh la cakap cam tu.” You just can’t win, even if you have good intentions.

All of these (and other stuff too like people accusing dUCk of buying in bulk and relabelling – which we don’t at all, and that people were so unhappy that dUCk got into Sephora they just couldn’t accept the fact) happened in the span of maybe 2 months and I have to admit I was really reflecting on myself. It’s like people love the idea of a rising Malay entrepreneur, but they secretly don’t like it either. I just have a dream to have this amazing business and working crazy hard for it, and while that’s on the journey, I also have to deal with being a public person that people love to love but love to hate too – for no reason at all. I confided in my parents and Fadza a lot, and I felt a whole lot better because I realise that I was just being extra sensitive (blame the pregnancy!). I refocused on what mattered most and suddenly bammmm everything seemed brighter, clouds cleared and I was ready to kick butt. Of course I can’t stop people from talking, so I should just expect them to and be ok with it – because whatever people say, nothing really changes because I still have to go to work and I still have challenges to face in life. Neither praises nor insults will change anything in my life – I shouldn’t be proud of praises and I shouldn’t be pulled down by insults, I just have to keep a good head on my shoulders. I had this revelation and I even wrote an article on NST about handling it. It became one of the most popular articles that week which shows that a lot of people actually go through this too.

But all these incidents put together were a blessing – I felt like it matured me. I needed to face them to make me a stronger leader. That’s also when I learned that sometimes it’s best to talk less and just do more. Let people talk, and they always will, so just do your thing and let them watch you rise from afar. It’s really not that hard to be happy, actually – fill your time with useful things like work, surround yourself with good people and be grateful for everything in life. That’s all!

I’m trying to make it a point to jot down small wins and exciting things happening in my life so I don’t lose the memories, so here’s one for the album.

We had a site visit to our new FV HQ in Damansara this week and I just couldn’t help but feel that we’ve come so far. Every couple of years, we outgrow our current size that we’re forced to relocate office to accommodate the growth. That glass building we have now was my dream office – I remember driving by with Fadza and thinking wow what if we had our office here – and we not only got our dream, we even occupied several floors there! Now it’s moving on to even bigger dreams.

This new office we took time to plan because there were so many departments and areas we wanted to have – there’s going to be a gym, shower, kids room, proper surau, cafeteria, moms room, laptop lounges, meeting pods, silent zones… it’s going to be AMAZING. I can’t really describe this feeling – excited, hopeful, happy. It’s the same feeling I had when I stepped into our current office for the very first time a few years back. We grew our business multiple times since then. I want to do the same in this new space and it was dejavu when I stepped onto these new concrete floors – gonna work my butt off to make sure we make it, Insyaallah. Make doa for us and our new home! 🙂