Entrepreneur Spotlight #10: Careen Tan | The White Atelier
Hello you, welcome to The White Atelier!
It’s always been in our hearts and minds to do more than what we do on a daily basis. Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE our clients and designing beautifully handcrafted and comfortable shoes for all of them makes us super happy and fulfilled! But more than just business, we desire to also give back and add more value to our community- our beloved customers, social media fans and followers, friends and you, who have stumbled upon our humble little blog space here.
And so we have officially started our initiative by interviewing 10 inspiring female entrepreneurs from the local wedding industry in conjuction with International Women’s Day. These ladies come from different walks of life and all have different stories on how they have started and sustained their wedding businesses. You may even be familiar with most of their names!
This final interview features our TWA founder and designer, Careen, as a closing chapter to our Women’s Month initiative.
Enjoy the read, and we hope you will be inspired!
Entrepreneur Spotlight 10: Careen Tan
Founder and Designer of The White Atelier, Blogger, Emcee, Mom of Two
Can you share with us a little about yourself and how you started your The White Atelier journey?
Hi there! I’m Careen, founder and designer of The White Atelier. I’m also co-founder of WISHFUL Curated Gifting, a curated gifting company, and have been blogging and hosting since schooling days! I’m also a mom of two boys- Tyler, 5 and Lucas 8 months old.
I founded The White Atelier in Jan 2017 after my firstborn turned 1 year old. Since my wedding planning days (in Year 2012!), I fell in love with all things weddings and had always secretly wanted try my hands in the bridal industry. After years and years of contemplation and living in self-doubt, I finally decided, “It’s now or never”.
I knew that I was only going to get busier as the years go by, so there was no better time than now. I’m just going to try my best, and if I fail, I will move on to something else knowing that I have given my best. There’s no harm in trying. I just did not want to live in regret wondering, “What if I tried? Would I have succeeded?” It’s been 3 years now and we have grown much further than I had expected. We started with offering custom design gowns and rentals to brides that are all designed in-house and made by our team of seamstresses locally in KL, and now focusing more on our locally made custom designed shoes for brides and non-brides in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, UK, the United States and more. We’ve also recently launched our first read design collection available for purchase online! It’s been a real fulfilling journey making beautiful gowns and shoes, and being able to play a small but important part in a bride’s big day.
What keeps you going when you encounter tough times in your life and business?
People I love- my family and close friends.
My family is my biggest and primary motivation for all that I do. Growing up in a household of 7 children (7 girls!) and raised in a family where my dad was the sole breadwinner (and a pastor + missionary), we did not come from a rich background and many times were living from paycheck-to-paycheck. I remember scenes from my childhood where my parents struggled buying food for our next meal, and that stayed with me all the way until today. I remember telling myself that I wanted to be a blessing and contributor to my family, to provide my parents and family with the best that I can afford, to travel and see the world, and enjoy the good that God has created in this world.
When I’m reminded of the reason why I started and why I decided to work so hard in the first place, I’ll remember not to give up no matter how challenging it may be at that moment- because it’s not just about me, but it’s about my loved ones and providing them the best that I can.
Also, having the right support system in life is so important! I can’t imagine life without the support and encouragement from my strongest pillars- my mom, husband, sisters, and girl friends who never failed to be there, offer help and sound advice that I needed at that moment.
What is the one value that you hold on to the most in your entrepreneurial journey?
Sincerity and Integrity.
These two values have been my guiding principles not just in business, but in life as well.
I am a firm believer in being real and authentic, because that’s how we can be genuinely happy in life. I cannot imagine living life lying and scheming my way through, and covering up a lie with another lie. That would be really exhausting, wouldn’t it? When you are truthful with yourself and others around you, you are basically an open book, and this gives you a sense of freedom and peace that is incomparable.
I also believe that we can achieve the success we want by being fair towards everyone we work with, without sacrificing and shortchanging others. There are people who believe that in order to be successful, they have to resort to taking advantage of others- underpaying employees, not paying their vendors and suppliers, shortchanging customers with subpar quality, and the list goes on. That is a perception that I would like to change and prove wrong. I want to be one of those who can stand up and testify that we can be successful by being fair, kind and honest with everyone that we work with, that it can indeed be a win-win situation for everyone. That is my dream and goal in all my businesses.
What is your favourite quote/motto in life and business?
“Nothing Worthwhile Comes Easy"
This is something I constantly remind myself when the going gets tough, that nothing worthwhile in life comes easy. We want love and a relationship? It requires a lot of hard work and selflessness to make it work, and it ain’t easy. We want kids and to build a family? It takes a lot of love, time, and patience, and it sure ain’t easy! We want success in our career and business? It requires lots of diligence, grit and sacrifice, and doesn’t come easy too.
Truly nothing worth having in life comes easy, which sets things into perspective for me on many occasions, and keeps me going each time.
Why do you think it’s important that women support women?
Oh, definitely! I’m a testimony of being who I am today because of the women in my life.
Sure, my men (dad, husband and sons) are amazing. But they just do not understand me at a level that a fellow woman would! My mom, sisters and girlfriends have a special bond with me in a way that we just get each other, and because we do, we are able to offer words and comfort that is exactly what we need. With this kind of support system in life, we can achieve anything.
A woman alone is powerful, but together as a community, we are unstoppable!
Are you proud to be a woman? If yes, why?
Without a doubt, yes!
If I were to wake up as a man one day, I would be so, so sad! I will first and foremost miss my female instincts, which has been instrumental in making many decisions in my life up to this day. I will also miss my perfect balance of inner strength and gentleness that a man simply does not possess. Thirdly, I will miss having heart-to-heart talks with my girl friends! It’s just such a privilege being a female, and I’m not going to take that for granted!
One advice for every aspiring female entrepreneur.
Ask yourself, “What do I have to lose?”
It is better to try it and fail it, than not trying at all and spend your life wondering “what if”, and regretting it.
Someone dear once told me, “You can be anything you want to be”, and that has changed the way I look at new opportunities in life.
So, try it, and watch your world change.
Photo by Patrick Kok Moments
Photo by Momento Wedding
Photo by Gravia Photography
Get in touch with Careen and The White Atelier: