Have you ever wondered what it’s like working with your better half? Or maybe, you’re planning on setting up your very own start-up and thinking if it’s a good idea to draft your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife as a co-founder. You know what they say, never work with your loved ones. Many will find it difficult going into business let alone juggle love and relationship.
Meet Giden Lim and Penny Choo. As the founders of BloomThis, they’re a power couple that decided to take the unconventional path. While other couples debate on what to eat for dinner, they play a fine balancing act between creating beautiful moments for people through flowers, managing a growing team, and caring for each other.
This February, BloomThis and Hotel Stripes are celebrating Valentine’s with #unfoldyourlovestory, a series featuring local couples and their inspiring journey of love. Keep reading to the end for an exciting contest.
How do they do it? We speak to Giden and Penny about their take on being happily married and working together.
How did you first meet each other?
P: Both of us are from pharmaceutical backgrounds and we met each other in the same company. Come to think of it, we’ve been working with each other for all of our lives.
G: You mean, couple lives haha.
Tell us your funny dating moment.
G: This is my most embarrassing moment with Penny. Basically, I decided to ask Penny to be my girlfriend. So, I prepared this whole date plan and it involved bringing her to a Chinese restaurant for a nice lunch. We were having this really interesting conversation at the restaurant but suddenly, I choked while drinking tea! I coughed and the tea flew from my mouth to her face and body, drenching her all over. This was the day that I wanted to ask her to be my girlfriend and I spat at her instead. Everyone at the restaurant turned and looked at me and I wished the earth would just swallow me up. I apologised profusely.
P: I was just trying to be nice and said “It’s ok, its fine. Just give me a tissue and I’ll wipe myself” but in my heart I thought “Oh my gosh, what are you doing?”
G: Until today, nothing beats that. I thought I blew it, my one and only chance.
When do you celebrate Valentine's Day?
P: Do you dare not to take time to celebrate Valentine’s?
G: That's a hard question, right? If you think about it, Valentine's Day is when BloomThis is really busy. Everyone is all hands on deck, delivering flowers and creating moments for couples who are celebrating Valentine's Day. We still celebrate but we postpone it.
P: Our Valentine's date, for both of us, is actually the 30th of February, am I right?
G: We just pick one date after the 14th of February. We just can't celebrate on the 14th.
What's your favourite couple activity?
P & G: Singing!
What’s the most romantic thing that your partner has done for you?
P: I don't think Giden is a very romantic guy to begin with.
G: I sing songs!
P: You sing songs at every wedding so it's not really special!
G: I remember the most recent thing he did for me was on my 30th birthday, last year. He actually surprised me with a bouquet of peonies! When I got home, opened the door and saw the bouquet on the dining table, I was wondering how it got there? He hadn't left the office and there were so many questions on my mind like who he passed the house keys to or whether he let someone in. It was strange but it was really sweet.
G: It's a secret.
G: Most romantic thing…
G: I have to choose my words carefully. It's not easy to answer this question. For me, it’s the little things that she does everyday, like cooking even after a long day of work and in the morning, making coffee for me. It’s the small things she does that are the most heartwarming and romantic.
What’s it like being a founder couple?
G: Don't try this at home!
P: It's really challenging! It's not a bed of roses, juggling business and marriage at the same time. There's a lot of personal emotion involved so I think it's not for everyone. Someone told us, rule #1 is never, ever work with your spouse, but we chose this route and we're making the best of it.
G: Personally, to me, it's not bad!
G: I look at it as a privilege. You get to do what you love with the person that you love!
P: Please approve all my proposals.
G: Haha, well, how many times do people get an opportunity like this? Not everyone gets to do what they love with someone that they love. The challenge, like Penny said, is to juggle between work and relationship. It gives me immense motivation to get up every day and tell myself I cannot fail. It gives me extra strength if you’re doing this for someone you love - the thing you’re fighting for everyday is not for yourself but the person you love. That gives me a lot of purpose and meaning and pushes us further to achieve great things. I’d still advise to not try this at home but it works for us, somehow.
P: I’ll still ask you to approve my budget.
How do you keep your marriage alive?
P: It’s not about doing something special but about doing things consistently. Like what Giden said, it’s the small things you do that fills up your relationship and keeps you fighting for what you love and what you’re passionate about. One thing is to hold hands everyday and kiss your partner’s hands!
G: It’s also important to know when’s work and when’s couple time. That’s one thing we didn’t learn at the start of our business. We put everything together and that’s when it got tough. It’s couple first and then the business will flourish - that’s the principle and the foundation we live by. BloomThis is about creating beautiful moments and helping people to deliver their message. We learned along the way to make sure that we have couple time, away from work, to focus on ourselves and strengthen our relationship. Ultimately, that’s what’s going to flourish and happy people do well.
P: And sing together!
Do you have any advice for couples who are planing to work together?
G: It’s tough. It’s not impossible but if I were to start all over, I wouldn’t do this any other way. It doesn’t come easy but it has it’s strengths and benefits. It’s important to understand when it’s work time, to give our 100% or 200% in work and we give 200% in our business, err, relationship as well. It’s really important to make time, to be doing your business and at the same time, building your relationship.
P: Notice he said 200% in work and 200% in business!
Describe each other with one word
G: Haha, cut that. What’s this smelly thing all about? I was gonna say love, beautiful or passionate but smelly?
G: Penny is hardworking! She’s very dedicated and passionate in her work. She’s a person with high integrity and that’s why I love her.
P: Visionary. Giden is someone that thinks big and he’s really positive about life. Even if you throw a stone at him, he won’t throw it back at you.
G: She hasn’t thrown a stone at me yet, haha.
Share your love story and win a one night stay (Executive Studio) and a 3-course dinner set for two at Hotel Stripes, an Autograph Collection hotel and a RM 300 gift card from BloomThis.