PROFILE OF THE DESIGNER: CHERRY HUANG
The creative side of my personality led me to study Visual Art at Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore. This was followed by working as an interior, event, exhibition and graphic designer for 8 years. Robinson Departmental Store was amongst the few design companies which I worked in. This was a professionally rewarding experience during which I got the opportunity to express my talents, capacity for sustained hard work, collaborative approach, marketing skills, and also gained the appreciation of my superiors, colleagues and clients alike.
Despite the successful career progression as a designer, a significant turning point in my career came when I became a Mother. The inquisitive and caring part of me made me evaluate the options of childcare centres and the practices commonly employed by the existing choices. I strongly believe in a holistic approach to a child’s growth and development during their early formative years. There were important factors to a child's development which I found lacking in other childcare centres. Thus, this ignited the entrepreneurial spirit in me. Starting from almost no resources besides ideas and an ambition to fill an important gap, I co-founded, with my husband, a childcare centre, Educa Pte Ltd. This was one of the most testing periods in my career path and personal life, as in 2004, I had to juggle nursing an infant while conceptualising and implementing a childcare centre.
The success has motivated me to build upon this career path along several dimensions:
- I shared my knowledge and experiences as a basis for improving the capabilities and leadership qualities of my teachers, and groomed them to gradually assume a leadership role themselves.
- I pursued the "Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education" degree from the University of Wales upon completion of DPL diploma to further strengthen my leadership abilities.
- I managed and kept improving the operations of my child care centre, Educa Pte Ltd, which resulted in our winning of the "Exemplary Early Childhood Employer" award during the MCYS Child Care Awards of 2011. My success story was featured in Channel News Asia, the Business Times, 95.8 城市蘋道, and Simply Her Magazine. I was also invited to be the expert speaker for the parenting program "Baby 100%", and "Hands of Love", which were broadcasted by Channel U and Channel 8 from MediaCorp.
After running the childcare for 12 years successfully, the two passionate entrepreneurs, my husband and I, found it time to sell the business and start a new phase in our lives. We thought the time was ripe to begin a new chapter and pursue yet another dream, to reach yet another milestone.
I took a sabbatical year to travel around the world during my children’s school holidays, a wish that I had for a long time, and cherished immensely. It was during these trips, that I felt I had to follow my dream to design again. It was a great exposure to fashion from different cultures, which thoroughly enlightened me. I noticed that there was a clear gap in the market for non-conventional leather bags, and this was a gap which I just had to fill. During the 12 years when I was dedicating my time to the business, to support the family, I had no time to express my passion for fashion design.
As a Graduate from LASALLE College of the Arts, I felt the urge to express my creativity after all these years, to pick up where I left off. I knew that my journey as a designer was about to begin again – the passion hadn't died. It was a humble start, with only ideas and the ambition to become a trendsetter in the bag industry. Being a designer before, I knew that a fashion designer must have the knowledge of things like leather, fabric, shapes, textures, colour, and have the ability to weave these things together in order to produce a visually appealing product of maximum functionality. A designer must also be artistic, creative, and innovative, and have an insight into what it is that people desire. Moreover, the effective communication and strong inter-personal skills which I developed through my childcare experience, is also a vital aspect of being a designer. Pleasing customers mirrors the way I had to keep the parents satisfied while running the childcare centre. Connecting with people is what lies at the core of design, and this is exactly what I, as former principal of a childcare centre, have first-hand experience in.
Being unique in a world of mass-produced goods is definitely something great, which is why I created Dminimis - carrying the hopes of putting my own stamp on this world.
Although I realised that it wouldn't be easy to start from scratch again, and that the road ahead would be far from smooth because the bag industry is highly competitive, I pushed ahead anyways as I was no stranger to challenge. Driven by my entrepreneurial spirit, I started to design my first leather handbags in early 2016. The responses from the people were very positive, and this encouraged me to continue with my minimalistic design philosophy and produce even more leather bags. As to date, we have over forty different designs in our collection. From early 2017, I began personally promoting and selling my bags in pop-up stores to introduce my products to the customers, in order to get first hand feedback about my designs. Customer feedback is extremely important to me as it is only this, which will allow me to grow and develop as a designer.