#B_Original: Teo Jia En and Aiwei Foo on the power of individuality, with IWC watches

Special feature

Text: Norman Tan

Photo: Vanessa Caitlin

Video: MLC Productions
Image: Portrait of Aiwei Foo by Alvin Choon

Two successful Singaporean women — one a digital entrepreneur, the other a celebrated artist — discuss the importance of integrity and daring authenticity in the new digital age

In the first of two videos created in collaboration with IWC Schaffhausen — to explore the concept and importance of 'originality' and 'time'; the two constant tenets of successful people — we speak to two prominent Singaporean women who are crafting their own path to success in two completely different industries. 

Teo Jia En, founder of online accommodation and vacation rental portal, Roomorama, is your quintessential digital entrepreneur; a busy multi-tasker that's always on the run. On the other hand, Aiwei Foo approaches life on a slower cadence; often taking time out to reconnect with nature, and to ponder life's daily routine, in order to find inspiration for her artwork and illustrations. However, although leading completely different lives, both ladies share a mutual appreciation for pushing boundaries and bold individuality — qualities shared in the new Pilot's Watch Automatic 36.

For an inside look into the inspiring lives of these two women, click on the video above.

TEO JIA EN | Digital entrepreneur and founder of Roomorama 

Jia En Teo, founder of Roomorama

What is the Roomorama difference compared to its competitors?
Roomorama focuses on professionally managed properties, and in terms of quality, we go for mid-range to higher-end properties. In addition, we have recently started our B2B distribution platform called Bridge, where we supply our inventory to other Online Travel Agencies and large travel brands.

How important is it to be original in what you do?
Originality is extremely important, but I believe integrity is even more so. Being original to me means thinking about issues and problems from different angles — it is what will differentiate your product or service — but integrity is what will keep your team close and ensure longevity of anything you do.

You live a very busy life, juggling your role as an entrepreneur, wife, mother and daughter. How do you manage your time to give proper attention to your multiple roles?
Time to me is precious! I find that time flies by, and I need to seize the day, constantly. I have a lot of help, and I pick my battles. Yes, I try to juggle everything, but trust me, I drop a lot of balls. I double-book myself constantly, I forget things all the time. I constantly question what I can be doing better, and more of. It's a constant struggle, and I don't think anyone really knows the answer, you just kind of fumble along and try to do the best you can.

Your husband is also your business partner. How do you draw the line between work life and personal life?
It's hard. My husband and I started the business together, so this is our baby too. We talk about work at home, so we can never really shut off. However, on weekends, we try to focus on spending time with family.

What is more important in running a successful business: Vision or a strong team?
You need both vision and a strong team to run a successful business. To attract a strong team, you need to demonstrate vision. Smart and capable people must see a vision in whomever they are working with, and they need to share in that vision too.

AIWEI FOO | Mixed-media artist, lecturer and illustrator

Aiwei Foo, Mixed-media artist

What do you think are the key elements to creating 'good art'?
I can't really define what 'good art' is, but to me honesty and sincerity is important in creating a piece of work. I see them as the fundamentals for an artist. There is no right or wrong in whatever subject matter they explore, but the concerns and intention should be truthful rather than doing it for the sake of art, or simply to create beautiful objects to please the eyes. 

What does being original mean to you? How does this impact your work as an artist?
I feel that nothing is really original because everything has been done before in one way or another. But having said that, I think a single idea can be re-appropriated, renewed and refreshed with new meaning and new function as well. And perhaps, done in a way that is so unique that you can't even find any trace of the borrowed idea; it has become something 'original' on its own.  

How would you define your style of art and drawings?
Some people say my work is quirky, but I have a very diverse body of work. 'Quirkiness' might not be applicable to all of them, but in general, I think my approach is spontaneous, improvisational and impromptu. 

What are some common sources of inspiration? Why?
I love to look into the details of daily life. They are pretty random. It could be as ordinary as peeling an apple — are you peeling the apple towards you or away from you? I like to ponder about these sort of things. Some people may think of it as mundane. But there is beauty in little things.

What do you want people to feel or take away when they see your work?
I hope it stimulates their thinking — to provoke or to inspire. To be able to synchronise into each other's frequency. But they also don't have to agree with me. If they have a different point of view, that's also good. It's important to share a different perspectives on the same subject matter.

How does having a time constraint affect or influence your work?
I usually work with certain time constraints. It's stressful but it also pushes me to complete the task. I'm aware of time when I create, I don't normally get lost in the process. For me, not having a deadline can be a problem, a piece of work could drag on for months.

What does the concept of time mean to you?
The memories of past, present and future.

IWC Schaffhausen boutiques are located in Ion Orchard and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. 

Directed by: Norman Tan & Vanessa Caitlin
Production by: MLC Productions

Director of Photography: Alvin Choon

Production Coordinator: Marianne Koh
Hair & Makeup artist for Teo Jia En: Hongling Lim / FAC3INC
Hair & Makeup artist for Aiwei Foo: Sharon Pow