Q&A with Vickii Ma: The Tough Gets Going
She was still a young, fresh professional before she branched out her own. After just two years of working as a Management Consultant at Accenture, Vickii Ma set up her own blog, two online businesses, and a branding studio to boot. But even before that, she already had global ambitions. Tropika Club asks her about how she put her vision and resilience to work, even now.
*The interview below has been edited for clarity.
Q: What sparked the move to establish your own food and lifestyle blog, as well as VM Studio?
A: I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. Even when I was 10 years old I was already selling things in my backyard. When I was 17, I actually had an online bakery that grew quite big, but I stopped as I entered university. I took on the corporate path to try it before venturing out on my own. But after working for two years as a Management Consultant, I thought, if not now then when?
Q: Then what was it like when you branched out on your own?
A: It was a bit scary. But, rather than just feeling scared, I was very excited about the future. Sure, I had to manage and handle and my parents’ concern and expectations. But there was this thrill of finally creating a life that I want.
Transitioning from working a full-time job to doing essentially freelance work was difficult. There were risks, and questions about my income and stability. But looking back now, I’m glad I did it.
Q: What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome when you first started out?
A: Well, I had to get my name out there, and that is a challenge for me since I’m actually more introverted by nature. Even when I first started out at my first job, I had to learn how to get out of my comfort zone. But ever since I ventured out on my own, I had to meet new people and attend all those events, and that really helped me to learn. I’m really grateful for the change.
Q: Now you’ve even managed to work with major fashion and electronics companies. How did you manage to grow your brand?
A: Passion fuelled some of it, and I combined that with the drive to make the business succeed. That’s a sweet spot for me. And since the business mainly started with food, it was a logical step for me to take my brand into the lifestyle market.
Q: In light of COVID-19, how are you and your business persevering through these tough times?
A: Given the circumstances, it’s understandable that companies wouldn’t be big on spending marketing dollars now. But on the other hand, I still see growth in my e-commerce and food businesses. I guess people are still cooking!
Q: What lessons from the past you think will help you tide through your current obstacles?
A: Being strong, and learning to accept the fact that there will always be difficulties and challenges. But, with that, I learned that there are so many opportunities for you to be creative and succeed in your own way. As they say, when one door closes, another one opens.
Q: What is the next frontier for you and your business?
A: We’re actually planning to grow outside of Asia. Our original plan was to do that in the next two months. But even if it’s not easy now, we still want to be flexible and adaptable. I believe there is always a way forward.
Q: Once COVID-19 blows over, where would be your first destination to travel to?
A: Oh I would love to go back to Japan. I miss snowboarding in Hokkaido, and there’s always so much to do in Tokyo!
Q: How are you taking care of yourself now?
A: Routines! I have a lot of them now since I’m working from home. I’m also making my home as comfortable and conducive as I can so I stay productive with my work. I cook and I do chores to make myself busy. I like staying active as well. After all, a breath of fresh air always helps.
But I’ve come to realise the small things matter too, so I meditate and I check in with my friends more often now.
Q: What’s one beauty or grooming regime that gives you a peace of mind now? )
A: I still put on my Le Labo perfume even when I’m at home! I love that perfume because it reminds me of when I was out and about in the world.
I put on sunblock at home too; it’s one thing I never skip. I use the sunblock from Anessa because it covers both UVA and UVB light, and it has pretty high SPF. A lot of dermatologists and make-up artists actually recommend it. And it’s so easy to get; you can just find it at normal drugstores like Watsons or Guardian.
Q: What would your advice be to all the self-starters and budding entrepreneurs out there during these tough times?
A: You don’t have to be afraid, just go ahead and try. There is no perfect business plan – the real lessons only present themselves when you start working on your goals. You’ll just learn along the way.