When it comes to juggling multiple roles: whether being creative entrepreneurs, or as moms, Careen & Priscilla has thrown any limitations and boundaries out of the window. Being business owners of not just one but two companies, Careen with The White Atelier, a Custom Designed Bridal Shoes Boutique, and Priscilla with Story & Matter, one of Malaysia’s most well-loved and go-to Wedding Planning & Design companies, and now to being Co-Founders of WISHFUL together, when it comes to being moms, Careen & Priscilla shows us that nothing is unstoppable.
In this Featured Interview post, the WISHFUL team got up close and personal with the Co-Founders themselves: on what goes behind-the-scenes in curating beautiful, and purposeful giftings, to how it all began! Careen & Priscilla's journey is one that shows that building a successful business is more than just having a creative eye: but it comes with hard work, hand-in-hand. And there are no two individuals that walks the talk more than Careen & Priscilla.
Meet The Founders of WISHFUL - Careen & Priscilla
1. Let’s start from the very beginning: How did both of you meet? Was WISHFUL an idea that both of you had for a long time together?
P: Careen & I first met in May 2019 at a gathering hosted by our mutual friend, Laverne, from Eventistry. It was a networking session of wedding industry professionals. Careen was invited to share about her experience in optimizing social media for businesses. At that time, she was still pregnant with her second child, Lucas. She was so nice and helpful, and I was inspired by her character, kindness, and friendliness.
Since I gave birth to my daughter in February 2019, I’ve always had the idea to explore the contemporary full moon gifting business but did not get a chance to do so until I met Careen. I approached and discussed with Careen at The White Atelier studio on the idea of gifting a contemporary full moon gift for her newborn.
Since then, we’ve received tremendous amount of feedback and enquiries of our contemporary full moon gift box! This led me to approach Careen on partnering with me to venture into this business together. Fast forward from September 2019 till today, we have been in operations for 7 months!
C: Time surely flies! What started off as a gifting company focusing on modern and minimalist full moon gift boxes has led to us launching other gift offerings as time went by. Instead of launching just 20-30 gift sets at one go, Priscilla and I have decided from the very beginning that every gift collection that we launch ought to be purposefully curated. They needed to be gifts that we would love to receive ourselves, and gifts that would excite the giver, and serve the receiver. Hence, every gift collection that you see on our website, though limited, they have been thoughtfully curated with our givers and receivers in mind.
2. Share with us: what does 'Beautiful, Purposeful, and Practical Giftings' mean to you?
P: To me, a beautiful gift would mean something that our givers would feel excited to gift, and our receivers would feel proud to receive and sharing it on social media a.k.a: Instagram-Worthy! As for purposeful and practical gifting, it would mean that each gift curated would need to serve its new owner (the receiver). A purposeful and practical gift is not just a gift that is beautiful or has aesthetic value, but it is also a gift that is able to meet the needs of the receiver.
C: To us, a good gift comprises of all these 3 elements. We have received countless of gifts that sure look beautiful in their packaging, but when it comes to the content, we struggle in finding a use for them. In fact, we have found ourselves in situations where we truly question where to place the gifts we receive, and already planning on giving them away to the next person. This will produce a lot of wastage, not just in money wasted, but also in the items that are left unused and utilized. Hence, we’ve decided to only include products that are of value and working with brands that have high standards of quality. By doing this, we can ensure that no gift that is given from WISHFUL would ever go to waste!
3. What is it really like juggling with two businesses at the same time? How does your day-to-day workday look like?
P: Careen and I both rely a lot on our mobile phones a lot for our day-to-day communication and business planning. We’re constantly in touch over texts all-day in between pockets of time, and sometimes late into the night, after our kids are asleep – because that’s when we finally get to have some time to think and strategize for the business.
We spend a large part of our day being engaged in running the day-to-day operations of both of our businesses – our primary business, and our secondary business, at the same time. It definitely hasn’t been easy: with our hectic schedules, hustle and bustle, and tiredness. But we are blessed that we love what we do – which makes all of our effort worth it. We are also blessed to have a good team where everyone is matured and independent.
C: We truly are blessed to have a reliable team indeed! Priscilla mostly handles the finance and operational aspect of the business, while I handle the branding side of the business: from social media, to product designs. As our business centers around personalization, it requires everyone to be detailed-oriented. Our weekly meeting helps us to refresh and iron out important tasks and details ahead.
It is mostly exhausting for us at the end of everyday as we juggle between businesses and family at the same time. But the great thing is that both Priscilla and I are moms, so we can fully understand and empathize with each other, and stand in for each other whenever needed as well.
4. Do both of you have similar working styles? Share with us how does your similarities and differences being co-partners had contributed to create great work!
P: A big YES! When it comes to our working styles, Careen & I both think and do things really fast – I guess it’s because we’re both trained since becoming a MOM! We are both similar in a way that we can multitask well. We’re constantly finding ways and method that are effective and saves times to increase our productivity. Careen and I also do have different strengths: I come from a finance background and am therefore more sensitive to figures, while Careen is more creative as compared to me.
C: Yes, we both have found that our working styles are similar, as well as our goals and vision for the business and for our personal lives. Being moms ourselves, we hope to achieve work-life integration where we are able to build a meaningful business doing what we love, and at the same time having the flexibility to be there for our children and husband.
Sure, running businesses and raising a family is a tough job, as there are no clear boundaries when it comes to when work should stop in a day. As much as we enjoy the flexibility, there’s no doubt that it is extremely challenging to juggle different aspects of our lives well. But we’re trying, and because we’re both on the same ship, we’re constantly encouraging each other to keep going, and reminding each other to switch off work mode and focus on quality time with our families!
5. What is the most important element to you when it comes to curating modern gifting?
P: To me personally, I believe in Simplicity. Modern giftings is when we try not to complicate things and make the gift as minimal and purposeful as much as we can. Other than that, a good colour scheme and aesthetic value is definitely a big plus point to have!
C: If I have to pick just one, I would say the most important element when it comes to a well-curated modern gift is Value. There are many gifts that appear to be beautiful on the packaging, but when you look closely at the gift content, they’re not items that are of value as compared to what is being paid for by the consumers. To me, value is something that we strive to provide our customers with, alongside our motto of offering Beautiful, Purposeful and Practical gifts.
6. Give us a little insight on both of your thought and creative processes in creating the gifts we see on WISHFUL!
P: We’re always aiming to be different and unique, and to constantly think out of the box for our gift collections! Careen and I would always look into the market demands, the demand and supply trends at the present time, and then coming up with new ideas and initiatives. We’re always trying to keep our gift collections fresh instead of recycling ideas or including products that have been used repeatedly in the gifting market.
C: Innovation is definitely the key when it comes to curating our gift collections. We would ask ourselves: “What can be further improved from here?”, “As a consumer, whether as a giver or receiver of the gift, how would I have wished for this gift to be different?”, and “How would I like to feel as a giver and a receiver of this gift?” when it comes to taking an existing idea in the market. This has helped us in creatively curating and fine-tuning our products.
We also do a lot of research on social media and studying the trends on what can be improved on what is already being offered out there in the market. Once we have decided on the big idea, we would ask for each other’s opinions on different options and selections, just so that we’re on the same page. Then, it’s off to finding and collaborating with different vendors.
I am usually in charge of the overall product idea, design, and execution of the launch on our website and social media pages. And then, it’s off to Priscilla working hand-in-hand with our respective vendors and team members in making the operations and order fulfillment process smooth and efficient – from procuring the products to printing, to the packing and delivery of the gifts.
7. The both of you truly are an inspiration to many: being capable entrepreneurs, in this fast-paced industry, and superhero moms at the same time. What would be your biggest takeaway so far as you juggle between these two roles in your life?
P: I believe time management is critical when you’re having so much on your shoulders. I’ve also learned to trust in each other and the team to execute. It’s important to be open and clear in our communication with each other.
Often times, when we have ideas and plans, we do not have the time to execute them on our own. This is when we need to depend on our team to make things happen along with us. Along the way, we have learned to always practice giving clear directions and detailed communication so as to ensure things go as planned. With more task delegations to our team, we then can afford to spend more quality time with our family- fulfilling our roles as a mom and as a wife.
C: Apart from what I have learned business wise, one of my biggest personal takeaway is that I have realized just how capable God has made us women to be. Just when we feel like we have reached our limits and can no longer handle more, we are thrown with more responsibilities our way.
It takes a lot of courage, inner strength and patience to get to the other side, but once we have managed to do so, we will be able to see how our capacity has been stretched and how we have once again, “leveled up” in our strength as women. This has happened time and again, and I’m convinced that there is so much more to life than what I see and know today, that I have not even seen the biggest picture yet. I am a work in progress and I’m excited to see how God will continue to use me as a wife, a mother, and entrepreneur in this generation.
8. In your opinion, what is the most important foundation to have in building a successful business?
P: I believe an important foundation to have to build a successful business is to never be afraid of failure, and to carry a positive mindset at all times. Careen and I are both quite ‘brave’ in the way that we’re unafraid to try new things and exploring new ideas. By doing that, we’ve also learned a lot from our mistakes.
I believe these lessons enable us to gain more experience in handling different types of challenges. Change is constant, therefore embrace change and keep learning. I truly believe everything happens for a reason.
C: To me, being clear about your vision and goals for the business is crucial and it sets a strong foundation for the business. This is because each time we encounter tough times in the business, looking back at the ‘WHY’ we started the business always helps us get back on our feet again and to keep moving forward.
Before you start a business, write down clear reasons why you wanted to do it and how you envision your business to be in the best case scenario. Remembering why we started also reminds us of the fire and passion we once had when we first started, which will help us to stay motivated and to keep striving to reach our goals.
9. Describe to us: where do you hope to see WISHFUL in another 5 years’ time?
P: I hope to see WISHFUL to grow to be a reputable gifting company where clients regard us as their premium gifting partner in fulfilling gifting ideas for their special occasions, events and celebrations!
C: I wish to see WISHFUL as the number one go-to gifting professionals for any occasion with a reputation of offering quality gift ideas that are beautiful, purposeful and practical.
10. Lastly, share with us your all-time favourite quote!
P: “There is beauty in every journey, embrace every little thing that happens.”
C: “Nothing worthwhile comes easy."