How a slowing economy affects workers: She groomed herself to start own beauty salon

Madam Cheong at her beauty salon in Far East Plaza. When uncertainty hit the manufacturing industry she was in, she turned to her passion and took courses to to stay relevant.

When her co-workers and contacts in the manufacturing sector began getting retrenched two years ago, Madam Sherry Cheong started looking at ways to ride out the economic uncertainty.

She turned to her passion - beauty - and after attending night courses and doing freelance work on the side for a year, sheopened her own beauty salon at the end of last year.

"You can't rely on a company to plan your career for you," said Madam Cheong, 34, who runs Sen'se by De Belle in Far East Plaza.

"I wanted to have another alternative while working in my corporate job, and be able to set my own company culture and decide for myself when to send staff for training."

The mother of two experienced a pay cut during the global economic downturn in 2009, and was determined during the economic uncertainty this time to equip herself to stay relevant to the market.

So far, she has spent a few thousand dollars on beauty-related courses, some of which were supported by government grants. Some of her classmates were also in full-time jobs and wanted to have an extra skillset as a standby option, she said.

Madam Cheong has also been sending her staff for training, which allowed her to expand the range of services her business offers from just facials and body contouring to include massages, eyelash extensions and eyebrow shaping.

Lulls in the economic cycle can be an opportunity if you seize them, she said. "With companies downsizing you can get good people to grow your team, and have more time to groom the people."

Her efforts to learn more skills continue, and she plans to brush up on marketing and social media strategy when she can. "We have to live with this uncertainty, so it depends on whether we want to sit still and wait for things to happen, or do something about it," she said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2016, with the headline How a slowing economy affects workers: She groomed herself to start own beauty salon. Subscribe