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Growing through life

PHOTO: JERLYNN HENG
PHOTO: JERLYNN HENG
PHOTO: JERLYNN HENG
PHOTO: JERLYNN HENG

Millennials are making their mark across the world, realising their aspirations in ways that previous generations might not have thought of. Our series, Big Plans Take Time, explores how the young take bold steps to achieve their dreams. Czaraim Carreon speaks to businesswoman Jerlynn Heng, our 12th profile, who shares with us her experiences in starting her own company.

Happiness is homemade

For Ms Jerlynn Heng, a pillow represents the hopes of the future: children. Around the world, the 28-year-old realised that kids inspire innovation. In her travels to search for new products to sell, she has noticed how much they motivated their parents to seek new ways of doing things.

Millennial parents — sometimes called “parennials” — are especially scientific in their approach to child raising.

“On one of my trips to Japan, I noticed that proximal parenting — a style characterised by constant physical contact between parent and child — is very much the norm,” says the co-founder of Manner of Living Company (MOLCO).

“In many cases, parents devote all their time to raising a child for up to two years.”

Having to keep MOLCO’s offerings fresh means Ms Heng is a full-time globetrotter. “I have travelled to China, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia in search of products that I can introduce to Singapore. It’s not so much about filling the void, but bringing back a piece of culture with each product.”

Her pastime of making bean sprout-husk pillows for the children of friends and family members attracted buyers who were intrigued by the age-old method. She expanded her product offerings, establishing MOLCO in 2008. Last year, the company netted a six-figure turnover.


Ms Jerlynn Heng (left) during one of her work trips to Japan. PHOTO: JERLYNN HENG

The world is her oyster

Living the culture of parenting, despite not being one, has been a critical part of Ms Heng’s work.

“The best way to learn about these innovations is to immerse myself in different cultural settings and study the parental nuances that exist across borders,” she says. “As the company grows, I will continue to set my sights overseas, excited to discover what else the world has to offer.”

Among her imports is the SukusukuEN High Chair by Yamatoya, “because it embodies the Japanese values of constantly being there for your children as they grow up”.


PHOTO: SPH CONTENT LAB

She also addresses how time-starved parennials now shop. “Through e-commerce and word-of-mouth, the business has seen a steady growth over the years,” she says.

MOLCO also has a consistent presence at major trade shows and baby fairs. She says, “Getting started was the easy part. The challenge lies in convincing consumers to invest in our products, which may not always be affordable.”


INFOGRAPHIC: SPH CONTENT LAB

She is also faced with managing costs for manpower and exhibition rental spaces, which she counters by getting her team to adopt many functional roles during trade shows.

“Manager, cashier, promoter — you name it, we do it. We also recycle posters and signages for future trade shows.”

Future plans

What’s unusual about MOLCO is its genuine ap- proach to embracing diversity among little ones.

“MOLCO is currently working on a line of locally designed and manufactured products catering to children with special needs,” says Ms Heng. “Products such as foam cubes, customised wall paddings, ball pits and bean bags are currently in the manufacturing pipeline. We hope to provide these kids with safe equipment that does not compromise play time. We hope to launch this new venture by next year.”

Its soulful owner notes that all children should be provided with the best — and that investments concerning the upbringing of a child are worth making.