Parenting is no mean feat. Running a business full time whilst “solo parenting” three children under the age of nine is even tougher. But 38 year old Rachel Tan, Founder and Owner of Urban Li’l handles her thriving business and family so well, we are keen to find out how she does it.
Rachel graduated from one of the best Universities in the region and pursued a corporate career in finance prior to giving it all up to start her own business after she entered motherhood. Her loving husband, who is frequently out of town due to work commitments, has been very supportive of her business and reshares articles that feature Rachel and her business with pride on social media.
SG Lifestyle sat down with Rachel to find out more.
SGLS: Tell us the story behind Urban Li’l. What sparked the idea to start your own business? Also, what’s the story behind the name?
Rachel: The name of my family business is Urban Signage.
We are signage specialists – we custom make signages for airports, hotels, residences, malls, office buildings and retail. As I held a corporate job after graduating from University, I wasn’t operationally involved in the business but I’ve always aspired to be an entrepreneur one day.
I have a passion for design and when a market gap in the kids interior décor space was identified, I made plans, came up with the name “Urban Li’l”, with “Li’l” representing kids as the business started with customised kids’ décor items, created a simple logo and launched the first collection – Milestone stickers. This was the birth of Urban Li’l – a design studio that offers custom interior decoration.
SGLS: Do you design your products yourself?
Rachel: I’m a self-taught designer and created all the designs in minimalist style for the business on my own. As the business grew, I started a team of designers who pride themselves in creating original designs for the business.
My kids are my inspiration. I’ll design my kids’ collections around the growth of my children -eg baby milestone boards, birthday photo boards, nursery fabric wall decals, wallpaper, nursery signages and more. As the business grows, our product offerings expanded to include weddings, businesses and corporate gifting.
SGLS: How do you manage your time running a business with three young kids?
Rachel: I am mum to three daughters, aged two, five and eight, I often have to do solo-parenting as my husband travels a lot for work. Prioritisation and delegation are key to managing my time around work and family. I’ll ensure that my mornings are efficient with the team and meetings.
After 1:00pm, I’ll do most of the school runs and send my daughters to their after-school activities where I’ll continue working on the phone till they get home, and I will continue working after they go to bed. My eldest girl gets involved with the business during her school holidays through design ideas, packing, pop-up events and social activities with the team members.
SGLS: You are obviously very talented and wear many hats. You graduated from a tier-one university and worked in finance for many years? Why did you make the switch?
Rachel: I was a Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) professional for over 10 years before I decided to work on the business full time. It was a difficult decision to leave my corporate life due to the prospects and opportunities I had but I wanted to give full-time entrepreneurship a go to see how far I can lead the business. There are many things that I’ve missed about my corporate career but I’ve also gained tremendous experience managing Urban Li’l, from design, procurement, e-commerce, marketing, sales, customer service, logistics to finance, HR and admin. I wouldn’t have been able to gain such valuable total management experience in such a short time in a corporate environment. It has been very fulfilling and meaningful creating designs and products to elevate living spaces and events.
SGLS: Can you share some top tips for mothers who are keen to transit from a corporate career to being a “mumpreneur”?
Rachel: As cliche as it may sound “just do it” would be my advice. Many times, ideas do not develop further due to fear of failure and lack of execution plans. What I did right at the start was to be fearless while keeping my costs efficient and to plan well.
Check out Urban Li’l designs at www.urbanlil.com
Interview by Angela May Tan