Friends with benefits take on a whole new meaning with these mumpreneurs, whose businesses can boost our lives, too.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Friends with benefits take on a whole new meaning with these mumpreneurs, whose businesses can boost our lives, too.

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Stella Tan (right), 36, and Amber Chong, 36, helm The Outcall Spa.

Stella has two children, Hailie, 7, and Matthias, 2. Amber’s kids are Avril, also 7, and Eason, who’s 7 weeks old.

Like most mums, Stella and Amber are huge fans of spa treatments. But when kids come along, getting a massage is the last thing on our to-do list. “Such treats are a rarity. I missed my me-time and I knew I wasn’t alone,” says Stella. Then she met Amber at daughter Hailie’s kindergarten, and they came up with the idea to set up a service of premium at-home spa treatments.

“The easy part was knowing we wanted to introduce this fuss-free mobile service where the treatments come to mums instead of the other way round,” says Amber. “Everything else was tough!” Looking for the right therapists with prior experience in premium spas, trying each one out personally, sourcing the correct beds and drivers, and launching the website as well as the operations schedule was hard work.

Within a few weeks of star ting earlier this year, they were overcome with bookings for the massages, which ranged from deep tissue to those for breastfeeding mums. “Although they yearn for some pampering, our clients find it hard to leave home. By bringing the spa experience to them, they can relax and still be there for their families,” says Stella.

As blissful as it sounds, life is not always chill. “Being an entrepreneur is not a job, it’s a lifestyle,” says Amber. “We’re constantly thinking about how to improve. For example, we’re offering facials and scrubs soon. Our passion could take over our entire lives.”

“Although they yearn for some pampering, our clients Stella Tan (right), 36, and Amber find it hard to leave home.”

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Monica Lim, 46, is founder and director of writing agency Hedgehog Communications.

She has two children: Lesley-Anne, 19, and Andre, 15.

By 2002, Monica had been heading corporate communications departments for 10 years. Then the mother of two kids, aged five and two at the time, realised her career was preventing her from enjoying their childhood years. So, with the support of her husband, a passion for writing and a handful of contacts, Monica started a copywriting business at home.

“I was naturally apprehensive, especially with two young kids to feed. Many friends thought I was out of my mind!” she laughs. “But I gave it my all, made a gazillion cold calls, knocked on doors and put my CV out there.” After five years, Monica’s skills for projects such as websites, brochures and reports were in such high demand that she needed help with her workload, and the candidates she actively sought out were mums.

“There are lots like me in Singapore, who want flexible work arrangements so they wouldn’t miss out on family time,” she explains. “They’re an untapped and underappreciated resource – very capable, often with great corporate experience, reliable, effective and loyal.” Today, the majority of Monica’s writers are mums with young children who work from home, and take on as much as their schedules allow.

“When one is suddenly unable to do a job, everyone else pulls together,” she says. “That’s the mum culture at work right there!” Monica hasn’t looked back since. “The bond I have with my kids, who are now teenagers, is elephant-glue strong.”

“Mums are an untapped and underappreciated resource.”

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Karen Ang, 35, is the founder of online tutoring service Learn Mojo.

She is mum to Mea, 7, and Matthias, 9.

“I feel lost.” “I don’t feel good enough.” “I’m disillusioned.” These words came from Singapore teenagers who felt that, while they aced maths and science in school, they struggled with humanities. As a mother and former history and social studies teacher, Karen discussed the issue with other mums and discovered they were also worried for their kids.

In March 2014, she took action, becoming a part-time tutor in humanities and social sciences, in addition to working full-time in a non-profit healthcare company. “I had little sleep and worked late nights and weekends… it was crazy!” she says. The interest she garnered as a part-time tutor grew rapidly – and gave her so much satisfaction that last September, she quit her job to concentrate on it.

“Then the idea of designing an online coaching programme for time-strapped students grew on me. So, I attended workshops and courses, and spent weeks creating an online teaching structure. The result of that is Learn Mojo.” Karen isn’t just a tutor. She even set up Whatsapp chat groups between students, their mums and herself.

“Often, mums would Whatsapp to share their worries. I keep them updated on their child’s progress and abilities. At times, I’m a bit of a mediator, too.” “Seeing my students transform from passive to proactive and confident is incomparable,” she shares. “But helping mothers feel less anxious about their child’s future is the biggest reward.”

“Helping mothers feel less anxious about their children’s future is the biggest reward.”

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Casie Millhouse-Singh, 34, is founder of Leela Pass, a kids activities website.

She has two daughters, Vita Soul, 2, and Lela Funk, 4.

When Casie was two, she was super energetic and loved jumping on the furniture at home. Exasperated, her mum took her to a gymnastics class and their home was soon filled with medals and trophies. When she moved to Singapore in 2010, Casie wanted the same active outlet for her own children. But she couldn’t find one.

Her solution was to launch Leela Pass ( Leela is Sanskrit for play and the site is an online platform for parents to source for and book activities – from music and movement to arts and crafts – for kids under three years old. With experience in blogging, coding and building websites under her belt, and the voluntary help of three web developers, Casie’s focus is on cultivating community and partnerships on the site.

She works with local providers who pay for a page where they can list classes and take bookings. She also works on events to bring Leela Pass to life, and typically collaborates with clients offering family classes, such as yoga in the park. Her benchmarks for a winning idea are her own children. “They’re my guides. It’s important that I take their opinions on board,” she says. “Parents should bond through their children’s early life experiences.”

“Friends ask where to take their kids because I know about activities before they do.”