“We’re very privileged in this day and age because a lot of female entrepreneurs are coming together to support and mentor each other.” Penny Choo is the co-founder of BloomThis, KL and Penang’s most stylish online flower delivery company. She creates moments and gift-giving experiences that are unforgettable. Penny believes that by delivering this experience with flowers, happiness can be shared with loved ones and those closest to you.
In conjunction with International Women’s Day 2018 on March 8, BloomThis, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Doublewoot and DIDA brings you Celebrating Women, a series of interviews with inspiring Malaysian women, bringing change to their own industries, workplaces and communities.
We sit with Penny over fine coffee to talk shop - business, women and flowers.
BloomThis (BT): Tell us about yourself.
Penny Choo (PC): Hi, I’m Penny. I’m the co-founder of BloomThis, an e-commerce that delivers handcrafted designer flowers on demand and via subscription.
BT: What’s your journey like as a female entrepreneur in Malaysia?
PC: The journey has been really tough but to be honest, it has also been very rewarding and encouraging. If you were to ask me what the journey is like for a female entrepreneur in Malaysia, I would say we're very privileged in this day and age because a lot of female entrepreneurs are coming together to support and mentor each other.
For example, I’m in an exclusive WhatsApp group called More Girls in Tech. This chat group actually consists of women who talk about the latest news in the start-up industry, help one another in job and talent recommendations and giving all the female founders support and encouragement. I think the journey has been encouraging.
BT: What do you find most fulfilling about the business?
PC: We are in the business of delivering happiness and also creating moments. So to me, the most fulfilling part of our business is being able to witness the satisfaction and happiness of our customers when they’ve received our products. For example, when we know that we helped our customers solve a problem or that we helped them to deliver a beautiful message to their recipients or how they appreciate our gestures through giving us feedback and reviews. That’s really heart-warming as it gives me encouragement and satisfaction.
BT: How has your mother been essential to your success?
PC: My mom is just amazing. She’s been with us since the beginning of our business. She first started off by helping us in our apartment, cutting flowers. I still remember when she got pricked by rose thorns or accidentally cutting her finger. There’s a saying called, ‘blood, sweat, and tears’ and she’s been through all of that with us. I think, at some point, I might’ve taken her for granted as I always think she’s my mum, right, and she’ll forgive me for whatever comes but she deserves better. I think she’s the best mom.
BT: What’s the best advice you ever got from a lady mentor?
PC: I always thought that being a leader, you need to be strong all the time but I’m privileged to have Cheryl Yeoh as one of my female mentors. She mentioned before that to be a leader, you have to learn how to be vulnerable. I’ve always thought that being vulnerable was being weak and indecisive but in her opinion, being vulnerable means to have the courage to portray the side of you that you might not like about yourself or people might not like about you.
It’s actually a sign of strength and sincerity that you’re displaying. By being more vulnerable, you’re being more empathetic towards the people around us and our team members. When you can relate better to the people you’re working with, that’s when the best synergy can happen in the team.
BT: What does the IWD theme #PressforProgress mean to you?
PC: Press for progress, to me, is actually a very strong call to motivate friends, families, colleagues, and everyone to come together and unite to press for progression in terms of gender equality. The word progress to me means continuous learning and self-upgrading and not be overly comfortable on the status quo.
BT: What’s the most important message you’d love to tell women for IWD?
PC: Keep learning and upgrading yourself. Don’t settle for less than your best.
BT: Flowers are often seen as something men would buy for Valentine’s. Do you have any tips for how women can use flowers for life, family and even business?
PC: Oh, definitely! Contrary to popular belief, only men buy flowers to make up with their girlfriends or wives when they’ve done something wrong. But we‘ve observed that a lot of women send flowers to their friends, sisters, colleagues, mothers and even to their bosses or mentors, to show appreciation and to encourage one another. There’s a lot of application for flowers. You can send them as gifts to the people you care about, or you can send it to show your sincerity or gratitude and you can also send it as a form of support that you’ll be there for the one that you care for.
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