Find out how the founder of Ania Skincare juggles her busy schedule.
By day, 33-year-old Shao Fern Lee – better known as Fern – is a marketing and communications officer for hospitality management school Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne (EHL).
There, she helps to increase the brand awareness of EHL in the Asia-Pacific region. But once it hits 6pm, she’s back to being an entrepreneur as the co-founder of Ania Skincare, a natural skincare brand that’s inspired by Africa. And as if juggling two jobs isn’t tough enough, Fern is also a competitive muay thai fighter.
“I picked up muay thai in 2012 when I was in Melbourne,” says Fern. “It started purely as an outlet for fitness but I fell in love with it since it takes my mind off everything. Even at the times where I drag myself to training because I’ve had a long day or I’m not in the mood and feeling lazy, I always end training with a smile on my face.”
Currently, Fern goes for muay thai training at BXG Boxing & Fitness thrice a week during off-peak seasons, but that revs up to six times a week when she’s preparing for a competition. To date, Fern has taken part in three fights so far, though you’d never be able to tell by looking at her demure demeanour.
But here’s where Fern is quick to debunk one of the most common myths about martial art sports: fighting is neither about using brute force nor violence. In fact, it trains one’s mental toughness just as much as it is physically gruelling. “You can’t fight with blind rage,” says Fern. “You need to use strategic, controlled strikes. Having muay thai in my life has actually made me more calm and disciplined – it trains not just my body, but also my mind.”
That focus, coupled with killer time management, is what powers Fern to get through her busy schedule. On paper, her working hours are fixed from 9am to 6pm, but in reality any time that she’s not at her day job means she’s working on Ania. There, she heads the operations side of things, supports her partner in ideation and strategy, and they both work on branding and marketing together.
Sounds hectic? It can be, but don’t tell Fern to drop everything and grow her business full-time. While it’s common for entrepreneurs to quit their day jobs and focus on their own companies, Fern strongly believes that doing the opposite is more beneficial.
“I am following the advice of Daymond John (CEO of American hip hop apparel company Fubu and an investor panellist on reality TV series Shark Tank) to not quit my day job,” says Fern. “There is still a lot that I can learn from and contribute to EHL, and I can do that while building up Ania. This is definitely a more challenging route but the payoff is likewise going to be way higher.”
Trust this tough cookie to walk the talk – we’ll definitely be keeping a lookout for what Fern has to offer this year – both in the ring and down the beauty aisles.
In Fern’s words…
I work out because… it makes me happy.
If I only have five minutes to exercise, I will… hit a punching bag.
When I don’t feel like working out, I will… just rest and let my body recover.
To me, working out is as important as… eating well.
My biggest time-saving tip is… plan, adjust and plan again.
In order to be successful in both my fitness passion and career, I had to give up… play time, which includes going out and catching up with friends and family.
The three most important things in my life are… relationships I hold dear, financial freedom and my cat.
In five years’ time, I would like to… be retired.
I love being a woman because… we can be gentle yet strong.
My life motto is… stay calm.