I’ve been so ob­ses­sive that…

Prestige (Singapore) - - AGENDA -

“i al­ways say it started with a crav­ing,” says Natasha Chiam when asked how The Ice Cream & Cookie Co. came into be­ing. After all, she first started mak­ing ice cream cook­ies as a fun week­end ac­tiv­ity.

A law grad­u­ate, she was at the time a beauty writer for Fe­male magazine, who de­spite rel­ish­ing the writer’s craft — “I’d al­ways en­joyed it and was pretty de­cent at it” — had a pas­sion for mak­ing and sell­ing her ice cream cookie sand­wiches at small farm­ers’ markets or events in her spare time. But as her name got out and more or­ders started flow­ing in, Chiam de­cided to leave jour­nal­ism and ven­ture down the en­tre­pre­neur­ial path in­stead. “Had I not started my own busi­ness [in 2012], I’d def­i­nitely still be in that pro­fes­sion,” she tells me. “I left when I could no longer ful­fil both roles to a level that I was sat­is­fied with.”

En­trepreneur­ship runs in her blood. Raised in Aus­tralia, her par­ents used to own choco­late re­tail shops, though they’ve since re­tired. This ex­po­sure prob­a­bly ex­plains why as early as pri­mary school, Chiam had an eye for busi­ness — start­ing

first by sell­ing lemon­ade out­side the fam­ily home, and later as a teenager, mak­ing jew­ellery pieces with a friend to be sold at craft markets in Mel­bourne.

But th­ese early ex­pe­ri­ences didn’t spare her from the chal­lenges she faced in the be­gin­ning of her sweet dreams, she re­veals, ad­mit­ting that it has been “a real rollercoaster”. As an ad­mit­ted per­fec­tion­ist, it was par­tic­u­larly hard not to fix­ate over ev­ery lit­tle de­tail — some­thing that is un­re­al­is­tic given an en­tre­pre­neur’s never end­ing to-do list. But there is an up­side, she says. Choos­ing the en­tre­pre­neur­ial path has made her more thick-skinned, as well as sharper and stronger in mind.

“The big­gest chal­lenge for me was learn­ing how to let go a lit­tle and un­der­stand that busi­ness will al­ways be a work-in-progress…in­stead of per­fec­tion and com­plete­ness, now I strive for ex­cel­lence. I am learn­ing how to move the busi­ness for­ward while ac­cept­ing that there will al­ways be loose ends,” she says.

Her hus­band Andrew Lie has been a pil­lar of sup­port and is now based in Hong Kong to help steer The Ice Cream & Cookie Co.’s ex­pan­sion into China and other Asian markets. “In some ways, work­ing with your part­ner is eas­ier,” she shares. “We re­ally un­der­stand each other so we don’t need to su­gar-coat any­thing. In a way, that makes things more ef­fi­cient.”

Their goal: “To bring well-made, high-qual­ity Sin­ga­pore prod­ucts to the rest of Asia and then even fur­ther abroad.” our earl grey tea ice cream.

in my fi­nal year of high school, I tracked down ev­ery sin­gle past exam that had ever been writ­ten and fin­ished them all; and when I pre­vi­ously worked for a com­pany, I would make to-do lists and wouldn’t be sat­is­fied un­til I checked all the boxes.

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