How This Reluctant Entrepeneur Found Her Passion In Her Startup The Wedding Notebook

CHAIYEN WONG, CO-FOUNDER AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF THE WEDDING NOTEBOOK

What is it you do?

Curate content and coordinate creative events for The Wedding Notebook.

Chaiyen Wong, co-founder & creative director of The Wedding Notebook

What is the most surprising thing about you that most people don’t know?

It was never my life goal to be successful in my career or start a company. All I wanted was to live simply, binge watch TV series, read some books, and master the art of doing nothing (La Dolce Far Niente). But I soon grew up and realised that money doesn’t grow on trees, so I guess I now work to attain that life. Don’t mistake me for a workaholic because I am totally at ease with the idea of not working!

What’s a typical day like in your life?

I start each day with a double shot iced latte. Then I’ll go through my emails and clear as many of them as possible before lunch. The afternoons are usually filled with client meetings, discussions with my editorial team, paperwork, and combing through event details. Some days I get to go for a hike, enjoy an early happy hour, or bring my work with me to the highlands so I can do all of the above in a quiet, serene space. I like to read before bed, and try to not work after dinner and on weekends.

What’s the hardest thing you have had to deal with in your life?

The first two years of The Wedding Notebook were some of the toughest of my career. Our team was small, my take-home pay was low, and I literally had no life because I was working all of the time. I genuinely believed that we were offering something great, but being new in the market meant that we had a hard time convincing our clients and advertisers that online was the way to go. We reached a point where we decided to give it just one more year – if we still couldn't monetise somehow then we were going to let it go. I knew that as entrepreneurs, we had to know when to let go and not feel embarrassed about it. Ironically, the moment we “let go and let God”, clients started coming to us and it’s been going well ever since.

What motivates you to keep going when the going gets tough?

I believe in what we do. We know that what we’re offering is the best, and we’re working really hard to keep on improving the wedding industry here in Asia.

How do you relax when you’re not working?

I like to get away for a few days to read, sleep and journal a little. It helps me to put things into perspective.

What tools do you use that are indispensable? What can you not live without?

Probably all the scheduling apps and functions on Wordpress, Facebook and sites like Later.com because they allow us to automate our posts. It can get really tedious to do all of our posting manually, although honestly, I wish those apps could do more.

What books/documentaries would you recommend for someone who’d like to go into your field?

The Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson and Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the creator of Nike. I think giants like them are the reason we dare to do what we do. Those guys were relentless because they knew they were offering something great. Each new chapter presented them with new challenges and struggles, but I take comfort in the fact that they emerged victorious each time.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

We have a few interesting event concepts up our sleeves. We are really fortunate to have clients who trust us to explore all these new frontiers. We are nervous but at the same time very excited.

Your all-time favourite song?

My tastes are very melancholy when it comes to songs, so let’s not go there.

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Don’t be too affected by what your competitors are doing. Focus on what you intend to do, and stay creative. The fear these days is that with trends and technology moving so fast, we have to constantly adapt and change or risk becoming irrelevant. Don’t worry about failure; as Phil Knight says, “Fail fast. But my hope was that when I failed, if I failed, I'd fail quickly, so I'd have enough time, enough years, to implement all the hard-won lessons."