Handmade soap bars, anyone? Thomas Wong, 57, founded Soap Art which specialises in soap- and candle-making workshops.
HE DIDN'T need to run his own business. At the age of 53, Thomas Wong should have been thinking about what he was going to do when he retired from his 30-year career in the corporate sector. But he couldn't resist the call of being his own boss. So he hung up his business suit in 2015 and got his hands dirty running a soap art company with a group of friends.
"I've always wanted to be my own boss; after working in the corporate sector for 30 years, I felt that it was an opportune moment for me to start my own business," said the 57-year-old.
After several months of planning and research, which included visits to Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand to understand how soap is manufactured, Soap Art opened its doors to the public in March 2017.
Located at The Promenade @ Pelikat shopping mall in Kovan, Soap Art is an enterprise that runs soap- and candle-making workshops. Its soaps are made of natural ingredients and are Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)-free, paraben-free and vegan-friendly. SLS is a harsh foaming agent commonly used in personal hygiene products, while parabens are often used as preservatives in cosmetics.
"I wanted to create a product that is safe and gentle for daily use," Thomas explained.
Soaps galore... Soap Art offers soaps that come in an array of shapes and colours and are paraben-free and vegan-friendly.
As an abstract art lover who frequently paints to express himself and relieve stress, Thomas longed to breathe creativity into his business and combine it with his love for art.
True to its name, Soap Art conducts workshops training individuals to produce artistic creations, from soap bars intricately carved to look like roses, to soap moulded into the shape of the ubiquitous red-ribboned Japanese character, Hello Kitty.
A rose unlike any other... the 'flowers' pictured above were carved out of soap bars.
As with most entrepreneurs, Thomas had his fair share of doubts when his business first started. He said, "I wondered whether the business would flourish and fretted about the challenges ahead."
Thomas also shared that creating a digital marketing strategy for Soap Art was particularly challenging. Determined to overcome this hurdle, he signed up for an advanced Facebook and Instagram marketing course in January this year at the Digital Advertising Academy.
The elder-preneur (an entrepreneur who starts a business in his or her senior years) shared that his age never impeded his desire to keep learning and improving.
Today, Thomas has high hopes for Soap Art. He has set his sights on expanding the business by upgrading the current shop at The Promenade @ Pelikat and opening more outlets in Singapore.
He has also partnered with Atas Workshops to create more fringe workshops besides soap-making. Atas Workshops is an enterprise that runs various do-it-yourself (DIY) arts and crafts workshops such as terrarium-making, and resin and polymer clay jewellery-making. Thomas hopes that the partnership will draw more people to workshops run by Soap Art and Atas Workshops.
In his free time, the father-of-two enjoys staying up-to-date with the news around the world and also keeps active by swimming twice a week.
While Thomas has grand plans for his business, his outlook in life remains simple. "I just seek to be happy with everything I do and spend more time with my loved ones," he said with a smile.
Visit https://www.soapart.sg for more information or to sign up for a workshop with Soap Art.
Article published on 1/7/19
Special thanks to Central Singapore CDC for making this interview possible.