Before Freda Yuin founded White Label PR Agency, she was faced with many uncertainties. It was not a matter of not knowing what she wanted to be, but rather she just could not settle on one single thing to do for the rest of her life.
From criminologist, designer and even a language translator, Freda thought of it all. Eventually, she identified with what Emilie Wapnick calls a “multipotentialite” – what others might define closely as a jack of all trades.
After numerous stints in multiple sectors over the years, Freda looks back at her life, not with regret, but the utmost gratitude for every opportunity that came her way. As sometimes, it isn’t about being in the right place at the right time, but taking chances and trusting the journey.
The New Savvy: Tell us more about your business.
Freda: WhiteLabel PR specialises in working with new to market brands and budding lifestyle and fashion businesses to raise the profiles of their products and companies. A secondary aspect of our business is white label work – hence the namesake. We also work with other PR agencies on a project basis. I do not see other PR agencies as competitors, but rather potential partners and even clients.
So far, we’ve worked with a number of PR agencies and will continue to pursue partnership opportunities with fellow agencies. Resources are scarce and really if we can all scratch each other’s back and share, wouldn’t that just be awesome?
The New Savvy: How did you get started in this business?
Freda: In early 2016, I left my cushy position at a networked agency to pursue a freelance PR role. I started with two clients and through recommendations by clients and media turned friends, by December 2016 my freelance career had burgeoned into a viable business. This prompted me to start WhiteLabel PR with the support of my husband. In January, WhiteLabel PR became a team of two.
The New Savvy: What do you love about your job?
Freda: I love that there is really no template for PR, especially when you’re working with new to market labels or start-ups, in an industry where everybody is trying to “one-up” everybody else. While this is extremely stressful, knowing that every decision you make impacts the success or failure of a project/campaign, at the same time, it also gives you the chance to be creative and bold and to colour outside the lines.
The New Savvy: Can you share some pieces of advice for female entrepreneurs?
Freda: Follow your gut. This is as cliché as it gets but I’ve come to realise through the years that my intuition is usually right. While it may seem unscientific, irrational even, speaking from experience, if it doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t.
My idol Oprah Winfrey says it best, “Listening to your life as it whispers to you first so that it does not have to knock you upside the head with a brick or come crashing down on you like a brick wall, is one of the greatest principles of life.”
The New Savvy: What’s your least favourite part about being an entrepreneur?
Freda: The loneliness. As a business owner and a boss, I feel the undue pressure to bear with everything on my own and come up with solutions on my own.
The New Savvy: How important is company culture to you? Any measures you implement to cultivate a likeable company culture?
Freda: Company culture is extremely important to me. Speaking from experience, as tough as some clients may be, they come and go, but the team that you work with, share the same office with, go to lunch with, these are the people who will make your time at a company worthwhile.
Although, admittedly, as the team grew, I find it harder to direct the culture. When we were a smaller team, I’d regularly bring the team out for meals together, go to the movies together, make sure we do welcome and farewell meals together, even doing a staycation together to celebrate new accounts and just to thank the team for their hard work.
We still have a WLPR Alumni chatgroup with my ex-interns because we’ve created such a close-knit unit that they always feel like they’re a part of WhiteLabel PR.
Right now, admittedly other than meals together, it’s been quite tough finding the time to go out. Other than building rapport with the team, I recognise that acknowledgement and appreciation goes a long way. I make the effort to let my team know I appreciate their hard work and dedication. I am as generous with my feedback as I am with praise.
The New Savvy: Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider the most significant in your career.
Freda: Everything I’ve one so far feels like such an accomplishment because I never dreamt of coming this far. I’m really grateful for everyone who has supported me along the way. However, if I were to choose one, it would be running the Singapore Fashion Awards 2017.
I am so grateful for the trust that my clients, the Textile and Fashion Federation has placed on WhiteLabel to run a national event. I continue to be on very close working terms with the Textile and Fashion Federation and hope to work on more exciting projects to come.
The New Savvy: What are some patterns you’ve noticed over the years about women at work or business?
Freda: I’m happy that more people are more aware of the challenges faced by working moms. Moms are sharing their personal struggles of finding a balance between running a business and nurturing a family. This helps not only to let us fellow moms feel like they’re not alone but also to alleviate the guilt that most working moms face.
I also think that more encouragement and acknowledgement should be conferred to the partners who support these women in their pursuit of simultaneous excellence. I for one am conscious of the fact that I would not be able to achieve what I have today without the support of my husband and co-founder of WhiteLabel PR.
It is really important not only for women to not feel trepidation or guilt when pursuing their dreams and passions in the workplace. It is just as important to activate a paradigm shift with regards to men’s involvement in the household.
The New Savvy: How do you take advantage of your strengths? How do you compensate for your weaknesses?
Freda: My strength lies in my ability to code-switch easily and quickly. This is a skill that is especially crucial when working in an agency. Some of my colleagues have commented that they’re amazed by how I can remember so many things for the different clients and work on them seemingly simultaneously. I don’t take advantage of it per se because it comes quite naturally especially in my line of work.
Unfortunately, I really cannot design to save my life. I lack an aesthetic eye but I’m not afraid to admit it so I hire people who can support me in that area. One big thing I’ve learnt this year is to not be afraid to admit that you’re not adept at something. Instead, learn to recognise that talent in someone else and empower them to harness it.
The New Savvy: What are your top financial priorities and how do you go about planning for them?
Freda: In PR, our biggest investment and asset really is our working team. We are very fortunate to be steadily growing in business and in terms of headcount. So for me right now, my biggest priority is staff remuneration and welfare. We are constantly working to ensure that our expansion is not done at the expense of our balance sheets.
The New Savvy: What will you like to learn more financially?
Freda: To be frank, as a start-up, we’re time-strapped. We can’t really find the time to do research on the various grants and financial assistance schemes available.
It would be great if there’s an easier way to find information on the topic and to apply for the various schemes that often involve an onerous administrative process.
The New Savvy: How do you think modern women can be more fulfilled in their lives?
Freda: I believe that there is no one single fool-proof way to fulfilment for anyone.
Everyone is different. Recognising that my definition of success does not necessarily need to be your definition of success would be a great start. We all want different things in life and find peace in different circumstances and situations. Never let society define nor judge the way you should be more fulfilled.
The New Savvy: How to balance your children and business?
Freda: I find balance in the recognition that work-life balance is not about being able to enjoy your weekends without working, nor to work an exact 8 hours a day.
Rather, the privilege and flexibility to take some time out during the work week to do what is necessary for the benefit of my son and my family. In turn, sacrifice some of my “off-duty” hours to complete the tasks at hand for my business.
The New Savvy: What do you love most about being a mother?
Freda: The unconditional love that I feel from my son. I have been very blessed growing up to have earned the affection of many people in my life. My parents, my in-laws, my extended family, my friends, and my loving husband.
But I have to be honest to say that I’ve never ever felt so loved by anyone until my son came along. Even after a reprimand and a temper tantrum, he would turn to me for a hug and a kiss, as if to say “It’s okay mommy, I know you love me.”. This is a feeling that I will treasure for a lifetime.
The New Savvy: Do you think that there are any transferable skills between being a mother and an entrepreneur?
Freda: The ability to anticipate needs is something that is crucial as a mom and an entrepreneur. It’s always about planning and anticipating the needs of the baby or the client. Being prepared and ready so that you’re never caught off guard because consequences could be major.
The New Savvy: Give us a parting quote!
Freda: For the rest of 2018, I hope to be able to learn to not let everything (big or small) get to me. I need to learn to let go and only be bothered by things that really matter.Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in