Designer Yen Japney was raised by a single mother, who was very articulate in the way she looked and how a woman presented herself. Yen who is very close to her mother says, “She was the one who has inspired me to create and perfect the waist trainer.”
“For me I’ve always had more of a square shape body type. My journey of waist training started in my early twenties. For a very long time I’ve worn waist trainers, most of them worked ok, but it never really moulded to my body the way I wanted it to.
Being quite busty I found the waist trainers that were on the market made my boobs too pushed up, it looked and felt very uncomfortable. I also have a shorter torso, and the standard waist trainers were too long for my body and dug into my hips, making a very unflattering shape.
I’ve always been frustrated that none of the waist trainers on the market covered my stomach pouch; most of them tend to bring the waist in but leave you with a lower tummy pouch that’s quite unflattering.
I remember trying on corsets before, I love the shape that it gives, and the way it’s designed aesthetically, but damn it was unbearable to wear and painful to put on and off!
That’s when the light bulb moment happened. I remember saying to myself. There should be a better way, and from there I was determined to find the solution!
That’s when I came out with “Curve Sculpting” waist trainer.
The first waist trainer with a curve under the bust, it sits comfortably under your bust without pushing it up to the ceiling. It has a longer front to rid you of the tummy pouch, including nine strong steel bones, sculpting your curves perfectly.”
Was there a significant turning point when you decided to become an entrepreneur?
I was tired of working for people in companies, who did not appreciate me, and I always felt I could be and do so much more; this fire in me that was hungry for more.
Growing up my mum was not always home as she worked 2-3 jobs to support me and my brother as a single mum. She was time poor, and didn’t get to enjoy her life. I didn’t want my life to be like that.
At 18 I met my dad for the first time in my life; He was successful, he raised my two half-sisters to become pharmacist doctors, but he spoke down on my family. Me and my brother didn’t go to university but just work jobs here and there. He was embarrassed to be our dad (even though he never spent a day with us). But it was a blessing in disguise.
Because that gave me motivation.
Living with him for a few weeks made me have clarity and determination to do more with myself, for my family. I wanted to take control of my own life. And prove to myself I am more than this. I will be successful in my own way. I want to be able to give my mum the life she never got to enjoy.
And my curiosity in life is to become more, to find better ways to do things and create products people needed. Sparked that entrepreneur spirit in me.
The never giving up mentality was from my mum.
Looking back is there a piece of advice you wish to pass onto someone starting out their entrepreneurial journey?
Let me start by saying quitting my job to run my business was NOT a rational decision.
Before quitting, I had a plan, I made sure I was making some sales.
Because I had a mortgage to pay off, my car and of course bills. So I had to be smart about it. I wasn’t going to put the burden on my mum (that was definitely not an option.)
It wasn’t easy working full time and running a side business. But every time I had eg, lunch breaks, home from work, I would contribute time to working on my business. Every minute counted.
I remember during work when it wasn’t busy, I took my notepad out and did some simple calculation. How many sales did I have to make to cover my hourly rate? And then how many sales would I need to make on top of that to cover my tips that I made? (I made a decent amount of tips actually whilst in hospitality)
I saved up some buffer (about 10-15k for stock and stuff) and I was still living with my mum (it really helped, she mainly did the cooking and laundry whilst I was working on my business after work)
After a month, on the new products I launched. I made 30k, after 3 months I made over 90k. And I was thinking like, oh damn, making serious money now. I need to worry about the next tax bracket! I was ready.
And leading up I remember my supervisor at the time was sending me home after 3 hours every day. And that day was the last straw for me, and enough for me to make the decision to resign on the spot. And it was time to go all in.
We all have doubts before quitting. I know what ran through my mind was what if sales stop and I had no money? And I remember this quote from Tony Robbins.
“If you want to take the island, then burn your boats. With absolute commitment come the insights that create real victory.”
And that’s what gave me certainty to do what I do.
And recently I launched my third business www.curvesculpting.com . We sold out after the first month. And excited for what’s to come!
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Mindset: “We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up sometimes – but understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.”
Hustle: Hard work, what you put in will show fruit. But it doesn’t happen in a day. Every little bit counts in the long run. To grow a tree, you need to water it. To build a successful business you must nurture it.
Learning: Always teaching myself something new, being up to date with social media, marketing, finding better ways to be more effective and efficient, delegate tasks that others can do better, educating myself and team with innovation to be on top of the game. Otherwise we get complacent.
Who do you look up to in business? Who inspires you?
I actually stop comparing myself or put others on a pedestal and just focus on myself, and how I can be better than yesterday.
What was the best advice that you have been given?
“Ready, fire, aim!” – Coming from a perfectionist – borderline OCD.
When you’re ready with an idea, trial it out, bring it to market, and see what they think. Then go back and re-tweak. Too many times we wait until something is ab-solute-ly perfect (which nothing is ever) And it’s too late, someone already came out with the idea.
Time waits for no one.
What do you think your key to success has been?
Delegating task. Creating and building a supportive team to help me run a successful business.
Finding people who are smarter than me and hiring them.
And ofcourse having a supportive partner.
How have you personally measured your success?
- Being able to do what I want, whenever I want.
- Being able to buy my mom a house and her dream car.
- Being inspired to wake up every day to do what I love and being paid for it.
Success for me is being happy and being able to provide for myself, my family and my team who have families too.
Outsource the skill or learn the skill?
I believe both. Because you need to know the basic fundamentals so you know what’s going on (and you’re not clueless) when you hire someone they are doing what you need them to do and then you can judge if they are better at it. (You won’t know unless you have an idea right?)
How do you generate new ideas?
By listening to what customers want. We have a big email list, and also a big social media following, we can put out polls and ask them, customer service chat box when they message us with a “complaint” we see it as “feedback” to improve. It’s all perspective
Also my products are a direct reflection of my life. So, most of the product we launched (if not all), I personally wear it and so I know what’s missing or how it can be improved. (And extreme research)
Seeing what’s missing and is in high demand in the market.
I usually go to check out product’s bad reviews, and see what’s missing. (There’s a cheeky tip 😉 )
Basically, a lot of testing and trial and error, because no idea is 100% successful. You just have to test and see what works.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Getting to create whatever I want and executing my ideas in a fashionable manner.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Fashionnova.com, they have created a powerful and amazing branding, very up-to-date and everyone knows about them, you see them everywhere. Including celebrities, every fashion blogger, movies and even rap songs now!
Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?
I see myself getting married and having kids. Maybe also starting pregnancy wear and baby wear along the way haha. Since my business is usually based on the reflection of my life.
Launching swimwear, fashion wear for everyday but just really good quality and affordable.
Who are the women around you that allow you to thrive?
My mom, my best friends; Lisa and Brenda and my amazing team – Flor, Pat, Rosevie, Chan,Cindy and Aarti.
What do you do for encouragement or to be motivated?
Most of the time I’m motivated. But seeing my mum happy.
Having my team to keep me accountable.
My staff who are all mothers and who have their own family to support.
How do you balance your entrepreneur life with friends that don’t understand the challenges we experience?
I think, just accepting and acknowledging the differences.
Everyone experiences different challenges and there are always lessons to learn from each other, regardless.
There are things that they teach me and there are things they enjoy learning from me too.
Like food, recipes, things to do, restaurants, activities.
Sometimes when I’m too consumed with my business, I find it hard to see things from a different angle to find a resolution. But sometimes chatting with my friends is all I need to give me a different perspective. They give me another way of thinking outside of the business mindset.
Most of them understand my entrepreneurial life. So I’m really grateful for that. But there’s always other things I can relate with them on.
How do you handle doubt?
First to accept I have them. Then seeing what’s creating that doubt?
I start looking at all the potential challenges that I might face so I can plan ahead for what I can do and how to diminish them. Preparation removes doubt.