Brought up in an environment that expects the best from us both at work and at home, Singapore women may sometimes find themselves struggling to balance family commitments and career success. When we focus too much on our careers, we feel bad for not being there for the family. When we focus too much on our family, we sometimes wish there would be no limitations to our career growth.
The struggle is real, but not impossible! And what better way to conclude our March Special for Singapore women than an interview with Shua, a top lady stylist in Singapore, founder of Koinonia Hair Salon and previously hair director of Toni & Guy Korea and Singapore? This powerful woman has managed to achieve career success and balance family commitments at the same time. In this interview, we look to glean some tips on how she manages to be wonderfully woman!
Thank you, Shua, for giving us your time and agreeing to do this interview with us!
Before we begin, could you give us a brief introduction of yourself?
Hi, I'm Shua, a Korean hairstylist who came over to Singapore after marrying my husband who is Singaporean. Thanks to God's grace, I was given a lot of opportunities to learn and grow in Seoul, working together with top stylists in Toni & Guy South Korea and even getting sponsored to go for an Instructor course in Toni & Guy London. I'm glad that these experiences allowed me to be a better stylist to serve my customers previously in Seoul and now in Singapore.
How did you get into this line?
I love hairdressing. I was greatly influenced by my mother and aunty, who introduced me to hairdressing when I was still young. I worked as an apprentice at a hair salon when I was 18, then worked in Toni & Guy South Korea for a couple of years before I was selected to do the Instructor course in London.
Being a Stylist allows me to help enhance people both for their work and personal lives. I really enjoy it when I help people design a style that gives them confidence and helps them shine on their individual life "stages".
What are some of the challenges you faced on your road to career success, and how did you overcome them?
Language was a barrier for me back when I was doing my Instructor course in Toni & Guy London as I wasn't able to fully understand English. However, I really wanted to learn so I dared to ask questions and took initiative whenever I had an opportunity to learn more. I was blessed to be able to learn from the best hairstylists, and with my hard work and perseverance, I managed to become the project winner and obtained Distinction in my course.
I returned to Toni & Guy South Korea as an Instructor, and soon after got married with my husband and started looking into relocating to Singapore.
How different has life been for you in Singapore, and what challenges did you face here as a Stylist?
With my certification, I managed to secure a job as Instructor for Toni & Guy Singapore. I took a year off after giving birth and returned to Toni & Guy, deciding to work as a Stylist instead of Instructor because I wanted more interaction with the customers and further build up my hairdressing experience. I worked in Toni & Guy Singapore and later La Coco.
Shortly after, I got to know the owner of the now Koinonia, who wanted to sell the place. Seeing a great opportunity, my husband and I decided to invest in the place and created Koinonia, a hair salon that I'm proud to call my own.
That's a very interesting name! How did you decide on the name Koinonia?
Koinonia means "happy gathering" in Greek. I've always had this name in my mind. It's a name for my dream salon, and now it's come true!
What are the struggles that you face as a founder of a salon and wife+mother?
I am an ambitious person. I want to be successful at work and I want to take care of my daughter. However, it takes a lot of time and emotional effort to achieve both.
After having my daughter, I often find that I don't have much time to myself or for my husband.
Emotionally, it also takes a toll. I have to be very professional and decisive at work, but nurturing and caring when I'm at home with my daughter and husband. I get particularly stressed when the salon is very busy and my daughter really needs me.
What are some of the rules that you live by, that you think will help many other Singapore women in their climb to both family and work success?
In my experience, the best way to achieve balance is to take the time to cultivate relationships in your life.
Pardon me for bringing this up in a secular interview but the first and foremost relationship that pulled me through the darkest times was my relationship with God. Every time I feel like giving up, He renews my energy and gives me the courage to work towards a greater purpose. That gives me tremendous inner strength to continue giving it all to both my salon and my family. Even though I feel tired at times, the ability to retreat and draw strength from Him makes everything possible.
The relationship with my husband is the second most important relationship in my life. My eternal supporter, my husband motivates me when I'm feeling down, looks after our daughter when I'm not able to be around and buys me flowers on those special days to keep our flame alive. Even though I'm not Singaporean, my husband has also rallied his family in Singapore to accept me and give me much support. I am really very thankful for my husband and for my very welcoming and supportive in laws. They take care of our daughter so well that I can focus on being a good stylist for all my customers.
Finally, there is one more relationship you should never neglect... and that is the relationship with yourself. In the busyness of things, some of us forget about ourselves and let ourselves degrade into someone we cannot feel proud about both physically and emotionally.
As a woman, I think it's important to remember our femininity. The gentleness and beauty that makes us special. Instead of denying or neglecting that, we should remember to love ourselves for our womanly qualities and keep ourselves happy; after all, it is only when we find our inner joy can we have the motivation and perseverance to pursue our dream and do good work at work and at home.
What keeps you happy?
I love meeting people! I like talking to people and learning about their life experiences as it makes me feel like I'm a part of their lives.
The gift of hairdressing adds to that as I can help them look and feel better about themselves through a hair service.
Knowing that I am helping others through my work keeps me happy, no matter how tired I am.
Any additional parting advice?
Taking care of your family on top of having a packed work schedule can sometimes cloud our view and our emotions on the things and people who matter. We start to see children and husbands as responsibilities rather than the gifts they really are.
When that happens, I think that it is wise to take some personal time for yourself... to think about what really matters and re-centre your life on those who matter to you. I always find these periods of personal time very rejuvenating as it allows me to see things from a positive perspective; to know that at the end of the day, my children, my husband, my family, my employees and my customers are all my helpers, people whom I can help and people who help me grow as a person.
Here, I just want to say my personal thanks to everyone for being a part of my life.
As Shua continues cheerily, sharing her advice and opinions on hairstyles that complement various looks and more about herself and her passion, we see what makes this lady so special; her genuine heart to help others, her drive to do the best in everything she does and her love for the people around her make her an exceptional career lady and mother.
Can a woman combine a career and family and not short-change either? With the right job fit and a supportive family network, we say "Yes!".
For being capable professionals and dedicated wives or mothers (or both) while still staying gorgeous, Singapore women, we salute you!
Thank you Shua from Koinonia Hair Salon for being such an inspiration!
With time becoming ever more precious in our super connected world, it's important to keep our priorities straight and make the right decisions about how we use our time.
How do you balance your work and family?
Share with us below!