AKINN: inspired by the resilience of female business leaders
She greets each day with confidence and vulnerability.
She embraces uncertainties with boldness and tenderness.
She drives her goals with determination and humility.
Through it all, with uncompromising beliefs and a formidable sense of self.
Meet Karmen Tang, an independent and free-spirited woman who inspires AKINN.
Karmen Tang, 27, is an entrepreneur and storyteller. Founder of another startup story, she runs a multi-disciplinary creative studio specializing in brand strategy and content solutions with solo entrepreneurs, emerging startups and established companies.
The platform also showcases profiles of creative entrepreneurs, artists, influencers and industry business leaders to inspire people to find their passion, learn from the best and tap into their unique talents. Previously a financial controller, she moved to Singapore from London in 2018.
10 QUESTIONS WITH KARMEN TANG
Can you share with us a little about yourself and how you ended up in Singapore?
At the time I was working at a global advertising agency in London when they asked me to move to Singapore to cover someone on maternity. It was originally meant to be a six-month stint, but then they asked me to stay longer and I had launched another startup story shortly after moving to Singapore.
Are you where you’ve always thought you’d be or was there something else you wanted to pursue?
The idea that we have of ‘where we want to be’ is constantly changing. We’re such multifaceted humans and our passions and interests will evolve as we go through different seasons of life.
It was a big risk for me to give up my stable finance job and to pursue the path of entrepreneurship. It’s a path which entails creativity and freedom but also a lot of uncertainty. It took a lot of courage and faith for me to take action and design the life I really wanted to live. What I have also found is that entrepreneurship is a great vehicle for personal development.
On the entrepreneurial journey
When you started ‘another startup story’ what drew your focus on the creative startup scene?
I’ve always been creative, but I followed the sensible finance career path like a good asian kid.
My love for storytelling, writing, travel, and design led me to create my travel blog, Concepts of Colour. I was always drawn to beautifully designed brands, especially in the hospitality and F&B industry. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating the brand, deciding the look and feel and the design aesthetics behind it all.
As for the startup scene, I think this stemmed from having the desire to create something purposeful and serving the community in some way or form. I really enjoyed my old job, but just felt like there was always something missing and had this burning desire to start something rooted in meaning. I was searching for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.
Starting a business requires a lot of mental strength. What were some of your challenges and how did you overcome them and stay motivated?
Self-doubt, fear of failure, imposter syndrome, and overburn are just some of the many challenges. I’ve had to adopt the right mindset and take an entrepreneurial approach; meaning that you take initiative, that you’re a self-starter, you understand bottom lines, that you get skills in marketing and branding. The power of continued self-growth and having the tenacity to keep going when you want to give up is essential.
Now, I really embrace change, I’m pretty open-minded and I’d like to say I’m unafraid to take risks (most of the time).
We only get one life, and you’re never going to be certain that you’re on the right path, it’s never clearly laid out - but you just have to listen to the call and trust that it will work out.
My faith has been fundamental to how I live my life and it’s been a solid anchor to help guide me through difficult seasons.
- You interact with many business owners and uncover their stories. Can you share with us the most memorable story that you’ve came across that inspired/touched you?
Pastor Erwin McManus has been one of the most inspiring individuals in my life. As a cancer survivor, he often talks about how we should save nothing for the next life. How we have the power to create our own futures and until we decide to stand our ground, we’ll just live our lives like a leaf blown by the wind.
His book ‘The Last Arrow’ was what inspired me to start another startup story and so when we coincidentally met in Singapore after reading the book, I felt like it was a sign for me to finally launch it!
On personal style
Does a brand’s values and beliefs affect your support in them? If so, what kind of values and beliefs do you look out for? (eg. quality, timelessness, sustainability, empowerment)
Absolutely. A brand is more than just a logo, it needs personality, emotion and connection. I like to work with and share stories of brands which focus on social good as part of their ethos and business model.
I’ve recently been quite conscious of the safety of the ingredients on all of the products that we use on a daily basis. As a result, I ended up throwing away most of my makeup and toiletries - switching to soap bars and clean beauty brands. Many beauty products are full of harmful ingredients for your health and the environment - sodium laurel sulphate (SLS) is often one of the first ingredients in your shampoo, toothpaste and body wash.
We all need to take active steps to protect our oceans, the environment, our wildlife, and the rich biodiversity of our planet. Invest in quality products and support sustainable brands - everything from furniture and fashion, to health and beauty. I’ve now started to buy more from small businesses and local brands. I think we need to start these conversations - it’s never too late to create positive change.
- Your personal style is rather edgy, stemming from the influences in London. Has that changed since moving to Singapore, and how so? What differences do you observe when it comes to dressing for work there and here?
Since I’ve moved to Singapore I think my style has become a lot more formal and reserved. But that’s only because I’m in a different mindset now and I take myself a lot more seriously. I’m not the edgy cool chick that I once was in London-but I’ll always be abit of a tomboy, I don’t think I’ll ever be the girly girl type.
In London, you could be the most overdressed person in the room and no-one would bat an eyelid. In Singapore, I feel like people are a lot more understated.
- Every work day for you is different. you could be interviewing business leaders, speaking with start-up founders, attending a conference, pitching your business. How do you decide what to wear for the day?
I use Instagram and Pinterest lookbooks to inspire me, but I honestly just decide on the day and usually it’s whatever makes me feel comfortable. We’ve all been there when your top or jeans are too tight, and you feel uncomfortable-it affects your mood and therefore confidence.
Think back to Karmen 5 years ago in London. How do you think your style has changed through the years and now in a different country?
I’ve always been quite minimalistic, my wardrobe is pretty much all black and white. I think first impressions are really important and you need to have a uniform style. When people see you, your appearance should align with who you say you are and what you say you care about. Your style should match your personality, and it should stay as consistent as possible.
A few people used to say that I don’t dress like I work in finance - so I’d like to assume that doing what I do now, aligns with my style and persona. Over the years, I’ve learnt to dress for my body type and to wear items that accentuate my shape.
If you could sum up your attitude and approach towards dressing and what makes you feel extra confident in a boardroom, what 3 words would you use to describe it?
Minimalistic, understated and chic.