They say there's a lot you can tell about someone by looking at his / her friends. Well, cliched or not, I can agree no less.
I've got friends who've influenced me to study (yes this lazybone had to be influenced indeed!) , friends who've taught me to laugh at myself, and friends who've inspired me to follow my dreams...
Eversince young, my sis and I have had the penchant for all things beautiful. Mom was our biggest influence. She would sew everything from clothes to curtains....and her cooking and baking have never been just ordinary. So at the risk of sounding pertinent, I would safely admit that our mum is one very capable and multi-talented woman :) But then again, maybe we're just being good daughters (so excuse us)....
We'd like to think we've picked up some of her creative talents....but whether we're just being heady or otherwise, one thing's for sure...we can't shake off that creative passion.
So with that kind of passion, growing up in Singapore during our times (which I hope was not too long ago), was a bit confusing and conflicting cos while our hearts were always leaning towards all things creative and artistic, we chose to let our heads be 'brain washed' to go the non-creative route, academic wise.
Don't get me wrong. Personally, I've never regretted being a science and maths geek cos I found those subjects intriguing...more so the out-of-textbook kind. And Mariah too, I believe, enjoyed doing psychology. But the problem was, with an education system that was very structured and rigid back then, there was not much room for creative pursuits unless you take the 'arts' route or if your parents are rich enough to send you for 'fine art' lessons.
As such, for sis and I, our artistic escapades were probably only revisited occassionally during birthdays, baby showers and family gatherings. Those were the times when we would put on our martha stewart hats and indulge in creative undertakings. It was purely hobby, nothing more...
But things changed after Sis's wedding.
I contacted my good friend Najihah to do up Sis's wedding decor. Back then, she and her family had just started up their now well known company - The Wedding Chateau. I've always appreciated her taste, and I was glad Sis trusted me cos the wedding was gorgeous.
Najihah partaking in this creative business, I thought, although not unlikely - given her obvious flair for artistry - was rather surprising because she had spent precious years studying pharmacy, and has the intelligence to do extremely well in this profession, but chose to immerse herself in this business instead. On top of that, being married to Faizal, her involvement in healthcare would have been a given convenience seeing that Faizal, as a doctor, would also be in the same field.
But she chose do something totally unrelated. She followed her dreams. She didn't simply bask in convenience. She took that leap of faith to immerse in something that was closer to her heart, and did it well. She's still practising though...but I'd think she's more 'The Wedding Chateau' than 'Pharmacy'.
Even back in Uni, she was always brimming with creative ideas...breaking the stigma that all science students are boring nerds, with not a creative bone in them, doomed to be behind-the-scenes brain-picked workers. And so, seeing her and her very-talented family succeed, my sis, mom and I were encouraged and inspired to dip our hands into this creative business...awakening those creative tendencies we've suppressed for ever so long.
In 2007, 'Mariah & Sham' was registered as a business hobby. We've gotten in too deep in our respective careers to go full time, business wise. But no less important, we strive to handle all our biz projects with utmost attention, putting in plenty of thoughts and care into all our works.
Two years on, we're finally gaining momentum and support...although we've still got a lot more to learn. We're still in our infant stage.
Along the way, we've made new friends too. Ayu from Simply Cupcakes is one such new friend who has been unselfishly encouraging. Very talented, and having produced plenty of gorgeous works herself, she's refreshingly sincere in her appreciation of our works, hence spurring us to do better. Rati, another talented friend who bakes the best-in-the-world Kueh Lapis, is yet another highly regarded biz acquaintance who has taught us a thing or two about great baking. We've also gotten to know the very dynamic Elvira from Made With Love, and many other great friends who've influenced and inspired us in one way or another.
These friends have helped us grow, and hopefully we've helped them too. Sometimes we share experiences and resources. Sometimes, our ideas overlap. Sometimes, we compete. Sometimes we collaborate. But at the end of the day, we all have our own unique strengths, and we're all just trying our best to do what we love...and with such common interests, the pie can only get bigger.
And then of course, it would be a great injustice not to mention our own good friends and cuzzens like Lina, Kak Tan, Tina, Raudhah, Shikin, Min, Syak, Falah, Mel, Nur, Lin, Hana and many others who've cheered us on right from the start. They believed in us even when everything was so uncertain back then. Kak Tan for one, even planned on going up Mount Dandenong to get us a new cake stand when she found out how sad we were to have had a customer lose our unique and beautiful $200 cake stand!
At the end of the day, wherever this biz takes us, we're just lucky to have been surrounded by great friends...and just as much, we're lucky to have been inspired.