To mark International Women’s Day, we brought together three awesome women from different backgrounds to share their journeys and life lessons. Read on for our second interview with the founder of the Wyld Shop, Kara Bensley, who talks about juggling business and family, and her unique perspective of motherhood.
What’s the story behind theWYLDshop?
It began with a great opportunity that quickly turned into a business. When I came to Singapore with my then boyfriend, now husband Jon, I brought an awesome fashion eyewear brand with me that I hoped to introduce to the local marketplace. (I spent over a decade working in fashion retail and wholesale in Australia.) I had no prior knowledge of the people, the retail scene or the business culture here, and my entrepreneurial adventure literally began with me knocking on doors with a suitcase in hand. Eventually, I caught a break, landed my first couple of customers and, within the year, I had started a fashion agency representing Australian high-street fashion brands in Asia. After operating as a solo agent, I soon discovered a gap in the local market for unique, quality, affordable style, and tested the theory by throwing a party for Singapore’s fashionistas followed by a month-long pop-up store. The brands and apparel were all well-received, and we shifted the focus of WYLD directly to customers. So, theWYLDshop.com was born!
What drives you?
People are my passion. Seeing women comfortable and confident in themselves is extremely rewarding. We aim to encourage and inspire women to live “wyld”, live free and be who they want to be, to embrace their uniqueness, celebrate their beauty, chase their dreams and never stop believing in themselves.
What’s the most exciting thing about being an e-commerce entrepreneur right now in Singapore?
This fast-paced digital world that we live in is crazy, and the social media stratosphere is mind-boggling, but it’s an awesome and exciting time for businesses to take advantage of it to create meaningful engagement and content that channels the right brand messaging to customers.
Getting this right can be challenging, and has posed some ongoing hurdles for me. I’ve learnt that the secret is time and planning. Invest time in making sure the content you’re producing is relevant to your audience.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?
Being an entrepreneur propels you into networking, and it has opened up wonderful opportunities to forge meaningful friendships and relationships for me, both for my business and personally.
However, with all these positive interactions, it leaves the door wide open to pitfalls in trusting and working with the wrong people. That’s something I experienced, but it’s all part and parcel of the journey, and I believe everything happens for a reason. Embrace the plethora of people you come in contact with, but be discerning about the process. Know yourself, trust your gut and surround yourself with positive people. You gave birth a year ago to beautiful baby Jack, and we understand you were adopted.
Has this changed your perception of motherhood in any way?
I always knew I wanted to be a mum, but had no expectations going into it, which is probably lucky because man, did it surprise me (in a good way, of course!). It tests you from all angles; some that you never even knew existed. Having been given the chance at “a better life” myself, it’s something that I will always be eternally grateful for, and each day I count my blessings.
Now that I’m a mum, it’s only deepened my respect for women and mothers all over the world. I do love men (for obvious reasons!) but women are truly the most amazing creatures on the planet in my eyes.
How have you coped juggling family and entrepreneurial life?
I’m not the most organised person, so learning to prioritise is a challenge. In general, balancing work and life is a struggle for many, and having a child and a business can put an enormous strain on your relationship or marriage. To be honest, there have been times where I really haven’t coped, so taking a step back, some deep breaths or some time out is important for your own mental and physical health. Having clear and open lines of communication makes things a lot easier when coping with the hard times.
Name someone who inspires you and why.
On a personal level, my parents are my greatest inspiration because of their boundless support, generosity and love. On a professional basis, I’m very inspired by Tony Robbins. I find his talks uplifting and motivating, and they jolt me into action, reminding me that I’m the one in control of my situation. He always inspires me because he’s dedicated his whole life to helping others, using all the negatives from his past life experience and made it his mission to assure others they don’t have to suffer.
What would be your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Have a plan – you can always amend it. Set goals – it’s imperative to have something to strive towards. Research your competitors (thoroughly!) so you know that your product or service fulfils a need in the market. Know who your audience is – marketing is everything. Know your financials, do not be afraid to ask for help, reach out to experts in the fields you are not familiar with or take time out to learn it for yourself. If you have a team, make sure they clearly understand your vision. Finally, surround yourself with positive people and never stop believing in yourself, because if you don’t, others won’t. These are all things I’ve done, not done, have learnt, am currently learning or have just started doing. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!
What key life lesson would you pass on to your son?
Know your self-worth and never ever stop believing in yourself. The buck always starts and stops with you.
This article first appeared in the March 2017 edition of Expat Living. Shop now so you never miss an issue!