Three next-generation entrepreneurs reflect on values imparted to them by their parents that drive them today.
Not one to rely on the security of working in her family business, Quek Sue-Shan struck out on her own to be a restaurateur. She now helms The Supermarket Company, which manages a slew of trendy F&B joints including Sprmrkt in McCallum Street, Sprmrkt Daily and Sprmrkt Kitchen & Bar.
LESSONS FROM HER FATHER
When Quek decided to leave a comfortable job at her family’s company to start Sprmrkt, her father cautioned her about the “difficulties of surviving in the restaurant business”. Today, she credits his realism and emphasis on traditional business values for helping her keep her dreams afloat. She says: “I see a lot of truth in what he said. In this industry, you have to put in 150 per cent of your time and energy and you might only get a 10 per cent reward.” Nonetheless, Quek has no regrets about taking the plunge. “I’m still determined to make things work,” she says.
ON THE JOB
“Success is never a guarantee,” says Quek. Keeping her business sustainable is constantly on her mind, be it looking at new business models to drive revenue or keeping operations cost-efficient. She also admits to having a “curious” streak that keeps her looking for new projects, though these sometimes come with lessons of their own.
“We started a food kiosk, Koskos.
In hindsight, we could have saved the money we channelled into that project for rainy days,” she says.
For Quek, Sprmrkt has been a way to refresh the restaurant model, as it combines a restaurant, retail and gallery space under one roof.
She believes it’s critical to adopt a “contemporary” mindset to remain relevant in an age of disruption. “If you keep doing things a certain way, you’ll get left behind.”
Quek hopes that through building the Sprmrkt brand – which retails speciality South-east Asian produce and products by household brands from artisans in Singapore – she can help change perceptions of South-east Asian products as being “inferior in quality”. “It will take time and education. There’s a lot of richness and diversity here just waiting to be discovered,” she says.