By Violet Lim, CEO and Co-Founder at Lunch Actually Group. A version of this article originally appeared on Violet’s LinkedIn blog. Violet is a member of EO Singapore.
The transition from one year to another seems like a perfect time to say thank you to these 10 women entrepreneurs whom I have had the pleasure of meeting and learning from. These are women who have fought against all odds, made a mark in the business world and crafted their own brands of leadership.
I have met so many inspirational women entrepreneurs in the past year, and this was a difficult list to make! I hope these women entrepreneurs can give you the same dose of motivation that they gave me!
1. Kendra Scott: Designer, CEO and Philanthropist
Kendra is the entrepreneur behind a widely successful jewelry line now worth over a billion dollars—and she started it from her spare bedroom. When I met Kendra, I was struck by how humble and down to earth she is. She openly shared her secrets to success, the vision that she has crafted for herself and her team, and how she went on to achieve each and every of her dreams. From Kendra Scott, I have learned about the power of vision and perseverance. Since meeting her, I have followed her and her brand online and I admire Kendra’s personal touch—clearly seen in all of her jewelry and marketing pieces. She has also created a culture that authentically values giving back and making a positive difference in the world. I love that her business goes way beyond herself. It continues to inspire me to do the same.
(Here I am with Kendra at 2018 EO’s Entrepreneurial Masters Program (EMP) in Boston.)
2. Elizabeth Tan: Founder of Sight to Sky and CEO of Heatwave Shoes
Elizabeth and I met through Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Singapore. My husband Jamie and I have had the pleasure of joining Liz’s Sight to Sky trips to Ladakh. After seven years of leading Heatwave Shoes, she has turned it from a home-grown brand in Singapore to an international business with 50 outlets throughout the region and the Middle East. Other than managing a thriving shoe brand and being an awesome mother, she wants to help marginalized people. That’s how Elizabeth Tan started Sight to Sky. Together with a team of medical and non-medical volunteers, Liz travels hard-to-reach mountainous regions to provide basic healthcare screenings and care. I’m so proud of her, and I look forward to the next mountain she will climb—literally and figuratively.
(Here’s a picture from our climb to Taman Kinabalu in 2014.)
3. Hayley Quinn: Founder, Dating Expert and Social Media Personality
I met Hayley at one of the dating industry conferences in London in 2018, and she has taught and inspired me so much through her personality and knowledge! She’s UK’s top dating coach who is passionate about helping women become empowered in love and working with men to improve their relationships with women. Her Youtube channel—where she posts many social experiments and How To videos—has close to 100,000 followers. Hayley Quinn is also a fellow TED speaker and we did a video together when we met! I am so motivated by Hayley’s work (authentic and edgy, you will find no motherhood statements here!) and her passion for helping singles. I believe singles can learn a lot from her videos and her courses on how to be the best version of themselves and be successful in their dating journey!
4. So-Young Kang: Serial Entrepreneur, Founder of Awaken Group and Gnowbe
It has been many years since I met So-Young for the first time and over the years we always cross paths speaking at various events and conferences. So-Young left the corporate world and started Gnowbe, a pioneering transformational app to help people build personalized learning journeys while on-the-go. What has constantly impressed me about So-Young is her infectious energy! She has a big heart and contributes to society through The Young Professional Group. Some of the best advice I have recieved from So-Young is that, as leaders, we need to constantly empower our associates by allowing them room to grow, giving them tasks that they may not be able to do before, but at the same time, giving them the support and resources to ask for help and advice. Watch our Facebook Live video together here!
5. Merry Riana: Millionaire Entrepreneur, Best-Selling Author and Motivational Speaker
I first met Merry Riana when we were both being nominated for the The Great Women of Our Our Time award sponsored by Singapore Women’s Weekly 2010. Since then, we have become good friends. Our children even attended the same kindergarten! Merry has inspired millions of people through her books, her seminars and even her own movie! Every time we catch up, Merry never ceases to amaze me with the latest project that she is working on. I have always been inspired by Merry’s tenacity, perseverance and make-it-happen attitude! Even as she continues to grow her business empire, she gives back by mentoring youth who want to take charge of their lives through her “Personal Mentorship Experience” and champions learning and personal development for the next generation to achieve financial independence, as she has.
(Here’s a picture of me with Merry during Chinese New Year along with our husbands, Jamie and Alva)
6. Yvon Bock: Entrepreneur and Managing Director of Hegen Pte Ltd
I first met Yvon Bock at a fair where I bought a Hegen starter pack for my good friend who had a newborn. Parents reading this understand how fussy some babies are with bottles. I was so impressed by her passion to create a sustainable, practical and high-quality breastfeeding product to help fellow mummies. Needless to say, my friend’s baby loves the Hegen milk bottle! 🙂 Being a mother of four (you amazing woman!), Yvon is very inspiring to me as she continues to integrate multiple roles as a wife, mother, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Yvon has made ripples locally as well as globally: The Hegen bottle is so well-received in China that it was selected as the first Singapore product to be featured on Alibaba’s popular 11.11 Global Shopping Festival broadcast in November 2017!
7. Lisa Clampitt: Founder of Matchmaking Institute of New York, Professional Matchmaker and Relationship Expert | Linkedin
Many of you who have followed my career from day one would know that I have received my matchmaking accreditation from Matchmaking Institute of New York over 14 years ago, and I have to thank Lisa Clampitt for that! Lisa is the visionary behind the Matchmaking Institute of New York, the longest established matchmaking school in the world. Lisa and her faculty of experienced matchmakers and coaches teach passionate entrepreneurs and aspiring matchmakers to play cupid and grow successful businesses. Lisa also owns her own successful high-end matchmaking business and has brought together many beautiful couples. In an industry where some prefer to fight it alone, I am constantly inspired by Lisa’s vision of collaboration—to bring together matchmakers from all around the world, work together, share best practices and help more singles find love!
8. Kalika Yap: Serial Entrepreneur and Inventor
I first met Kalika Yap at EO’s Entrepreneurial Masters Program (EMP), an executive education program. The first thing that struck me about Kalika is her beautiful smile and her positive outlook on life. Kalika is one of those born entrepreneurs! Her businesses include award-winning brand agency Citrus Studios, Luxe Link, the Waxing Co., Tangerine Co. and the Orange and Bergamot! Kalika inspires me not just as an entrepreneur but also as a loving wife and dedicated mother. She also believes in the importance of giving back and integrates the value-based culture of philanthropy within all her business units. Despite her busy life and schedule, she still has time to host a podcast! I had the privilege to be interviewed by her here. Thank you, Kalika, for the inspiration. I’m looking forward to seeing many more achievements to come!
(Here I am with Kalika during Sinulog 2017 in Cebu, Philippines.)
9. Christina Teo: Advisor, Mentor, Coach and Founder of Startup Asia Women, she1K and Want Things Done
Christina Teo and I first met over lunch where she shared with me the story of moving from the corporate world to entrepreneurship. Since then, I have witnessed her rapid growth as an entrepreneur. Christina believes in empowering women and she believes that women must embrace tech. That’s why she started Startup Asia Women, a community of women involved in startups in Asia. Her platform has given many women in tech access to support, resources, networks and shared experiences. Recently, she launched she1K, the world’s first global corporate women’s private network and collective angel fund. She aims to recruit 1,000 women globally to champion 100 startups in one year! You go girl!
10. Suzanne Ling: Co-Founder of The Pitcha Project, Social Entrepreneur
I met Suzanna Ling this year in Jakarta when I was moderating the Young Social Entrepreneurs Panel that Suzanne was part of at the Transformational Business Network (TBN) Asia Conference. I was quickly captivated by her startup story. She is the co-founder of The Pitcha Project, a social enterprise in Malaysia that empowers refugees through sustainable food business. It was inspiring to hear how her work has changed the lives of many refugees. Suzanne has represented Malaysia in many international exchange programs and was named to Forbes 30 under 30. Meeting Suzanne makes me realize that there are so many opportunities out there that can help us make a difference. With young social entrepreneurs like Suzanne leading the way, I am confident the world can be a better place.
(Here I am with Suzanne at Young Social Entrepreneurs Panel in Jakarta in 2018.)