COVETELLA'S COVETED ICON - MAY EDITION
Meet Angela Loh and Nelson Lee, Co-Founders of JeweLuxe
From Singapore to Japan, JeweLuxe connects customers all across Asia and curates exclusive jewelry brands and events on one, accessible online platform. To learn more about what it takes to run such an innovative brand, we spoke to the backbone of JeweLuxe, Co-Founders Angela Loh and Nelson Lee. In our interview, we discussed some of the challenges they faced throughout their journey, advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, and some personal anecdotes that have shaped them along the way. For any business, the most intriguing aspect is not simply the innovative idea, but rather, the people behind it making it all happen. Here’s what we learned from Angela and Nelson:
Tell us a little about yourself.
Angela: I am a late bloomer. I love life and am always bustling from one project to the next. Not one to keep still. I love my business and my work: I also love to workout (especially body combat), and playing with my two dogs is one of the greatest joy in life. I love to host parties and events - gathering friends together to share and enjoy a common interest. Maybe that’s why I’m always charged to come up with something new to engage our JeweLuxe shoppers every year.
Nelson: My life largely revolves around my business and striving to seek a balance between family and work. I’m often tickled by the ingenuity that millennials have with tech so my current obsession is Flying Face on Instagram, and of course who doesn't love a good party?
What do you do what you do? What inspired Jeweluxe?
Angela: I love designs - the human endeavor to create is what inspires me most. Manifesting God’s (or the Universe) gift to us is what motivates me to create a festival dedicated to promoting such gifts and capabilities. My first loves are jewelry, then timepiece and fashion — hence I choose to support the talents in this arena by creating a festival to shout out their aspirations and inspirations in meaningful and significant ways
Nelson: As a born and bred marketer and ad man, I have always had a love for aging industries and business and in transforming them as with my previous work with Bata and OCBC for example. It struck me that the beautiful, age-old business of fine jewelry and timepieces is in need of a major change and I jumped right into this partnership with Angela, who is source of knowledge and support for me.
What three things does anyone starting in your industry need to know? Why do you think this is important for them to know?
1. Stay positive. Every challenge or obstacle is an opportunity for growth. I don’t believe in merely fixing a problem when it arises: I believe in rising above and create a whole new paradigm 2.Persevere. Never say never. State focused on your goal. Don’t give up easily nor take the easy way out.
3. Be open... to learn from others successes and your past mistakes...to be adventurous and not be afraid to try new things and ideas:
1. Let your workings always be a mystery
2. Honour your word, it's everything
3. Be true to yourself
If you could give your younger self advice, what would you tell yourself when you were first starting out? What might you have done differently?
Angela: Have no fear. There is no shame in failing. So just do it. Start a new business, embark on your project, etc. I would have more ownership over my life - my happiness, ambition, wellbeing, etc. I should have more faith in myself and focus more energy to materialize my own vision.
Nelson: Put 100% into everything you do, or it will not work out!!! When you are young, you think you are invincible and that you can do more than one business venture at a time with enough hard work. But in reality, there’s something about dedicating a period of your life to a single work venture which makes magic happen.
What is your #1 key to success and why do you think it has been so vital to you?
Angela: These five words guide me throughout my career — Purposefulness, Positivity, Courage, Sensitivity, Camaraderie. I try to practice them when faced with different difficult situations or decisions.
In your opinion, who or what has influenced you the most? How and why do you think so?
Angela: My divorce had a great impact on me. I learnt to have more faith and trust in myself and not depend on others. My endeavor to be self-sufficient after the divorce has led me to sharpen my capabilities and harness new ones. This in turn reinforced my confidence and self-esteem.
Nelson: My wife and I named our daughter ‘Iman’, which means faith. As much as she’s a little young to have shown me an act of great faith, I’ve learnt to have faith in all situations and that with the right attitude and hard work, things may be tough but they will turn out alright in the end.
Can you tell me about your biggest failure? How did you overcome it and what did you learn from it?
Angela: My biggest failure would be my marriage. I was too caught doing things...for my ex-husband, for my mother, for my ex-husband’s business, for my dog, for our new house. I realized on the hind side that I had focused on doing things for loved ones as my way of loving. I got caught up and was too focused and busy solving problems and getting things done to pay attention to how I feel...how others feel... I am still leaning to pay attention to how others feel rather than being too task and/or goal focused.
Nelson: The failure to once empathize and to take care of my colleagues at work like family. I learnt that once you truly take care of your team at work that they will truly take care of you and the business
What has been your biggest success? How did you achieve it? How did it feel?
Angela: Creating and launching JeweLuxe is my biggest success. It’s my vision since 2003 and I am making it happen.
What does a typical workday or week look like for you?
Angela: I must confess I am a workaholic. I wake up mostly 6-7am and get to the gym first thing in the morning for an hour workout to start the day right. One of my favourite part of the day is having breakfast on the terrace with a nice cup of coffee. My dogs Vicki and Megan will gather round me hoping for some food from the table which is a no no for me: I play with them as I enjoy breakfast and soak in the sun and nature:l. This is my daily ritual and I enjoy it tremendously. When in the office, It’s meetings mostly and for some rare days I get to do some work behind the desk. Work is fun and exciting...never a dull moment. Weekends are “me” time - playing with Vicki and Megan, having my facial, massage, manicure, pedicure, and anything that is pampering. Shopping is also one of my favorite past time. I am a weekend workout warrior, spending at least two hours in the gym and I get to enjoy my favorite body combat class.
Nelson: As a dad, I don’t have my own preferred schedule – it revolves around my daughter’s sleep cycle. Amidst the emails and gym routine, I try to squeeze in some quality time with my daughter to make fake breakfast with PlayDough or some finger painting. Then I will be at my desk by 10am. I juggle between marketing, partnerships, new business, sales and all aspects of the company. My work day typically 'ends' at 7pm when I rush home and spend some time with my daughter before she sleeps and with my wife thereafter. But with the advent of mobile, work never stops! There's no such thing as ‘I will check my email when I get to the office’
What’s the best piece of advice you have received?
Angela: My mommy always reminds me to stay positive no matter what happens because there is nothing that we cannot solve or let go of. She constantly encourages me to not fear nor doubt...that once I set your mind to do something, I should stay focused and only look forward to achieving it.
Nelson: “The best work comes about from a well lived life”
What has been your biggest challenge? What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?
Angela: The past 3 years - first my marriage failed, then Singapore JewelFest which my company was commissioned to organize since 2003 ended and having to start creating JeweLuxe in 2017 with only 10 months preparation and at a time when luxury retail is lackluster. Passing through what I would constitute the toughest time of my life...one thing I learnt is having faith in God and his plan for me, having faith in myself and most importantly the value of friends who all raised by me to materialise my vision. Nelson and Elaine has been my pillar of strength in these years.
Nelson: Finding time to focus on things that matter
How do you balance your work with your personal life?
Angela: I am lucky....my work is my personal joy. I love what I do and I love the people I encounter at work and usually we become friends. Given such, it is not hard for me to consciously create balance in my life on daily or weekly basis. The moments at home with my dogs and mom, the moments out with friends, and moments of self-pampering
How do you want to be remembered? What do you want your legacy to be?
Angela: The fine jewellery industry has been integral to my business and personal life and I hope to be of help globally to independent designers, craftsmen and watchmakers - all talents and coupled with that, also entrepreneurs. I admire their strength and fortitude. I would like to play a part to better their business and their industry.
Nelson: To be remembered as someone who have done great work in this world
What’s next for you?
Angela: Of course, I would have more business projects. My company Lizard Storm, which owns JeweLuxe has just rebooted its brand consultancy service for small and medium Singapore enterprises. There will be more projects funded by Lizard Storm in coming years. But this is business as usual. At the same time, I aim to do more good for my community, society, country and the world. I feel the urge to give back to society. This year’s JeweLuxe would see the beginning of such activities for a good cause.
Nelson: As far as JeweLuxe has come in the last 3 years, it still has tremendous potential for growth so the horizon is far from view. I suppose the next step is to go deeper, rather than wider, and to transform the jewellery and timepiece industry, one brand at a time.
We hope you enjoyed this month's read. Stay tuned to our coveted icon series to learn more about other inspiring Singaporean’s grazing a new path for all things fashion and beauty! For more updates and behind the scenes follow us on IG : @covetella