Daring to Take the Leap of Faith and Redefining Career Success with Hann Chia
Hann Chia is an Entrepreneur and Founder of 2 businesses, Fawn & Co. and Xennial Capital, while also being a dedicated mother to 2 children, aged 11 and 9. As a firm advocate and believer of sustainability, Hann founded Fawn & Co. in 2019 which is known to be Singapore's first sustainable bespoke skincare lab. At 40 years old, Hann took a leap of faith and went back to school to achieve a professional certification (Diploma Organic Skincare Formulations, U.K) in Formulation and Science in order to start her own skincare lab. Hann is a former senior finance executive with over 20 years’ experience in managing corporate and private wealth assets across Australasia, Asia and Europe with a proven track record in business management, strategy formation, sales and partnerships.
Whether she’s taking on the role of a boss or a mother, Hann always actively tries to be present and gives her all in her roles. She is also extremely passionate about dance and performance art, specifically ballet, and has been dancing for 40 years and proudly received a Distinction in Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) Repertoire Level 2 exams in 2020. When she’s down to chill, you’ll find her having a good wine with good conversations and taking long drives. (Fun fact: She hates walking or standing on people’s right side. It’s the left side or nothing.)
Hann shares with us about the beauty and strength found in following your passion to work for what you believe in. She highlights the importance of being patient with yourself and compassionate to others, while learning from the failures and obstacles you face along the way instead of chasing perfection as we’re all human at the end of the day.
My biggest personal achievement would be being a Changemaker for myself and others. I graduated with a Theatre Degree at 20, pursued a 20 years career in Finance in a Swiss Bank before embarking on Entrepreneurship. At the age of 40, I started and have been running 2 businesses ever since. On top of that, I went back to achieve a professional certification in Formulation and Science at 40 (Diploma Organic Skincare Formulations, U.K). I also went back to my love for ballet at 40 and achieved Distinction in RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) Level 2 Repertoire Exam.
In the past 5 years, my main focus has been my children and being present for them. I left my 20 year career in finance at a Swiss Bank to start up a Family Office and to study (Diploma Organic Skincare Formulations) from a U.K school.
The best commodity I have received from making this decision is Time. I have focused on ensuring that I spend this time given to me mindfully. Following my getting a professional certification in Formulation, I have dedicated time to starting up Fawn & Co.
When I was in Finance, I travelled a lot and had very little time to pay attention to what I was using or eating. I used to think that buying the big brands products and using the most expensive products would mean the best for my well being and health. On top of that, I had a health scare 8 years ago. Despite many courses of medications and treatments, I was not showing signs of improvement. I started using a herb based supplement together with the doctor's prescribed medications and completely recovered in 2 weeks. Upon recovery, I decided to examine my wellness and dietary habits and routines.
I started simplifying my routines and the products I use. I even made simple products from home and eradicated excess products. Over the next few years, my health and skin improved so much that people around me started complimenting me. This sparked an interest in me to learn more about science backed formulations in skincare that were accessible and sustainable to use.
Upon leaving the finance industry 5 years ago, I decided while starting up Xennial Capital, I will pursue a science backed and professional certification in Formulations from the U.K. I fell in love with the science behind formulating and organic ingredients. I decided to start up my 2nd business, Fawn & Co. to continue pursuing that knowledge and passion.
In doing so, I was hoping to create a platform and build a community to share the right information and knowledge on natural cosmetics and ingredients. I wanted to create awareness on Slow Beauty and Sustainability in the Beauty Industry, traditionally known to create one of the highest waste in packaging and misleading information. Most of all, I want to formulate a beautiful range of Slow Beauty skincare and wellness products that encapsulates my love for a sustainable, clean and mindful beauty regimen. I want to empower women to embrace aging gracefully and to feel confident in their own natural skin.
Fawn & Co. is me creating a platform that captures many of my personal advocates. Empowering women, motivating women to pursue a career in the STEM industry, women to indulge in self care and wellness (both mental and physical) through the ideology of Slow Beauty, women to reject the Patriarchy by redefining their own ideology of ageism and natural beauty. Women must know, they are beautiful regardless of societal expectations and definition of beauty.
My children and to have the freedom of my own time in my own hands were my biggest inspiration in starting my own business . The hunger to express my artistic self which I found in formulating and Brand creation of Fawn & Co. The push factors were of course the fact that I wanted to leave the toxic corporate and finance industry behind.
Having a good balance between all the roles I assume and being present in all of them helps me overcome the challenges I face. Being a mother, a new entrepreneur to 2 businesses, my studies. Being an authentic and strong leader in my field (Finance and Beauty Industry) and an equally authentic role model to my children and team at Fawn Labs. Being all these.
I ensure whenever I am assuming any role, I dedicate time, authenticity and focus on the specific role and the people that I will interact with. I do not multi-task and will focus on each role to ensure my 100% presence. This has created a more sincere, effective and efficient effect on the many roles I assume.
We cannot be perfect. Learn to forgive and be gentle with yourself when you make mistakes. Be Compassionate to others and yourself. Nobody excels by being perfect. The ability to overcome hardships, mistakes and failures and the ability to learn from them makes an individual excel.
As a woman, it is common to be subjected to ideas of Patriarchy even in a modern society like Singapore. It is often imposed in passive rather than overt actions or comments in my business interactions that we, as women, cannot or should not.
I have once met a supplier for lab equipment who tried to oversell me. When I said no, he repeatedly told me that I can "Go back and talk to my boss and see if he wants to approve the budget". It was highly amusing because I had not once mentioned any male boss nor told him the role I play in the business. He even tried to explain financial concepts and terms to me in a condescending manner when I said no again. He said he was doing me a favour to educate me on the idea of investing in equipment he was trying to sell. The most amusing part was, because of my 20 years of experience in the finance industry, I knew he was explaining the financial terms and concepts incorrectly. I chose not to reveal nor explain and left.
I know that as a singular woman, I cannot make drastic changes or change these gender biases quickly. They will not be eradicated easily and fast. I will advocate and pursue more dialogue by ensuring I am present and authentic in all my interactions. I must uphold strong leadership and be an exemplary role model in my behaviour and speech with the platforms available to me. I will encourage collaborative efforts with other female role models that I can identify. Uplift each other in actions, not just speech. It is very easy to lend support to each other if we focus on sincere actions and be compassionate without judgement.
My role models in life are:
Dr Fong Cheng Hong (M.D at Julius Baer) - She has mentored me as a young banker to be authentic to self and others and to cultivate strong values, ethics and morals as a Banker and Mother. I still hold on to these values today in my own businesses and personal life.
Josh and Cora, my children - They have taught me to be unconditionally kind and have unadulterated joy. They teach me to find the simplest joy in everything around me. I am a true subscriber to this lovely quote.
“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” ― Angela Schwindt
Be present and authentic. Be fearless in thoughts and actions but compassionate in heart. There is no perfect. We will face challenges, we will face mistakes, we will face defeats, we will face failures. Overcome the hardships, mistakes and failures by reaching deep within our own strength. Learn and grow. Be compassionate to others and most importantly, to yourself. Simplify your life. Love and love deep.
Thanks to my decision to challenge myself and do what I am passionate about, I wake up everyday with a sense of purpose and excitement. I now have Time to be meaningful with my life. The biggest joy I derive is that I can be a present mother for my children, Josh and Cora, on my own terms.
I knew it was not going to be easy and I will face hardship and failures. My joke lifted from a sweatshirt print has always been Entrepreneurship and Motherhood is a walk in the park. Jurassic Park that is. It will only get tougher but the opportunity and time I now have to build my own platform and legacy and impact my children, women and people's lives positively drives me on.
Understated. I like classic looks and lines with small details and surprises. I like to be feminine in my dressing and still feel empowered.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Photos c/o Augustine Yuen
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