From a part-time barista to a full-time kopi hawker, Faye Sai is one-third of the millennial trio behind Coffee Break. We speak to the 29-year-old lady boss on taking the road less travelled and beyond.

What do you want to be when you grow up? For most of us, the typical answer may lie in white-collar, high-paying professions such as doctors and bankers. But there’s also been a rise in the number of aspiring millennials who are willing to take the plunge into unorthodox occupations they’re passionate about – the F&B industry being one despite its reputation as being physically strenuous and long working hours, but thriving in the process.

Amid the competitive scene are young entrepreneurs diving into the profession of being hawkers, aka ‘hawkerpreneurs’. Among them is third-generation ‘kopi barista’ Faye Sai who’s heating up the local coffee scene with her innovative brews at Coffee Break. We speak to Faye on how she started out and what makes the brand special in the growing hawker scene.

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“I’ve always seen myself as a hawker,” says Faye, who has since taken over the Sai family’s 82-year coffee shop heritage. Along with older brother Jack and twin sister Anna, Faye serves up authentic kopi brews and artisanal toasts while creating modern flavours inspired by their travels.

The 29-year-old’s interest in the business started a while back. Helping her father with the business since she was 19, she wanted to pursue coffee brewing as a career but was denied by her father who urged her to obtain a degree and gain work experience. Undeterred, she continued building up experience by working part-time as a barista and even volunteered for the World Barista Championship to learn more about the speciality coffee scene. This helped Faye in infusing unique flavours such as sea salt caramel, pumpkin spice mocha etc. into the traditional sock-brewed coffee which the business is known for – that’s dedication!

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On what others had to say about her job, Faye says: “I usually face mixed reactions, but that was in the beginning when nobody really saw being a hawker as a viable career. My friends have always been supportive, but my mother is still very apprehensive about it. She’s seen our dad slog it out in the past and was reluctant to see us suffer like he did, even more so when it’s all three of us!”

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However, despite giving up the stability of a full-time job for her passion, Faye considers herself fortunate for figuring out her strengths in the process of pursuing her dream. The business management graduate said, “I could’ve gotten a comfortable job with a steady pay check, but I’m glad I took this path as it gives me a lot of opportunities to learn more about myself. Back then, I took a diploma that wasn’t a great fit so I switched over to business management in university which I genuinely enjoyed and am now able to apply back to the business.” Playing to her strengths, the lady boss now deals with the marketing aspects, while siblings Jack and Anna manages research and development and operations respectively.

Dishing out advice she has for aspiring entrepreneurs, Faye encourages: “Be open to trying new things and don’t be afraid of failure. At the same time, always have a backup plan so you can have a safety net to fall back on while you’re going forward.” So stay dedicated to your dreams and goals no matter how lofty they might seem – you might just make it!

Coffee Break is located at Amoy Street Food Centre, Buona Vista and Raffles Place. Like them on Facebook (@coffeebreakamoystreet) for more kopi-licious updates!

Do you know someone who has an inspiring story to share? Tell us in the comment section below, or drop us an email at [email protected]!

Teenage Dance Challenge 2017 Finals

Intense training sessions and gravity-defying stunts are all in a day’s work for Louis Sue, one of Singapore’s only professional male pole dancers. Teenage speaks with the 24-year-old on his unique career and his experiences thus far.

Let’s get straight to it: where pole dancing is concerned, there are certain social stigmas that brand the dance form, such as being overly sexual and feminine – but it’s time to ditch any preconceived notions about pole-dancing. An ever-evolving sport that requires high levels of strength, flexibility and endurance, pole dancing is shifting towards mainstream fitness. Guiding us through is Louis Sue, a professional male pole dancer/dance instructor at PoleLAB, and the reigning SG Pole Challenge 2016 winner, who defies the conventional in his quest to be at the top of the game, gravity-defying stunts and all.

 

A post shared by Louis Sue Jun Zong (@louis_sjz) on

How did you get started in pole dancing?

Flexibility. This was something I struggled with from the beginning. The other would be pain tolerance. There are moves that require a lot of leg grip, which is also why we tend to wear so little because we need that friction on our skin – most guys tend to use brute force. Off-pole, I’d say it’s the judgement. When talking about pole dancing, you wouldn’t think of a guy doing it. Moreover, there’s a stigma that pole dancing is very sexy. But in actual fact, there are different aspects and styles that require a lot of effort. The style I go for includes acrobatic and gymnastic elements. It’s moving towards more ‘pole fitness’ rather than ‘pole dancing’.

I started pole dancing during my army days. I was looking for something that incorporated both dance and fitness – it was either this or breakdancing. Coincidentally, my friend and sister had started pole dancing so I tagged along for a trial lesson. It felt different and fun, so I never looked back.

Why did you stick to pole dancing instead of exploring other dance options?

It was more of the fact that pole dancing is very unique. For example, it’s normal to see guys who breakdance. But to suddenly have this niche – I started out quite strong and from there I continued and the more I progressed, the more I didn’t want to stop.

What’s the most difficult thing about pole dancing for you? 

 

A post shared by Louis Sue Jun Zong (@louis_sjz) on

Flexibility. This was something I struggled with from the beginning. The other would be pain tolerance. There are moves that require a lot of leg grip, which is also why we tend to wear so little because we need that friction on our skin – most guys tend to use brute force.  Off-pole, I’d say it’s the judgement. When talking about pole dancing, you wouldn’t think of a guy doing it. Moreover, there’s a stigma that pole dancing is very sexy. But in actual fact, there are different aspects and styles that require a lot of effort. The style I go for includes acrobatic and gymnastic elements. It’s moving towards more ‘pole fitness’ rather than ‘pole dancing’.

What aspect of pole dancing do you like the most?

For me, it’s showcasing tricks to people who are not open about pole dancing. When it comes to doing certain moves, people think it’s pure strength but it’s also technique. Pole dancing is always evolving; people are always inventing new moves. It’s nice to see what you can do with just a pole.

You choreograph your own performances. What are your main considerations?

 

A post shared by Louis Sue Jun Zong (@louis_sjz) on

Firstly, it’d be the type of pole, the style and duration and even the venue of your performance. In a normal performance, you try to think of what the audience wants to see and showcase cool tricks. For competitive pole dancing, you’ll have to do exceptionally well in all aspects. It’s more of coming up with unexpected new moves – the judges are experts themselves and you have to give them something to look forward to rather than just the same old tricks.

What’s the pole dancing scene in Singapore like?

As of now, it’s mostly female-dominated. I really hope that more guys can be open to it, and that people won’t think that it’s just risqué dancing. With regards to the dancers themselves, most of them are quite reserved and are not ready to go all out to nail difficult tricks. I hope to see more people going for advanced moves and stunts.

What keeps you motivated?

 

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For now, I would consider myself to be one of the main people to go to if you want to learn advanced tricks and flips. I’m competitive and I really want to do well in this. I hope to compete on an international level someday, so that’s my driving factor.

You’re currently juggling a full-time job, a part-time instructor gig and training competitively. How do you manage your busy schedule?

My colleagues are really supportive especially when it comes to catering to my schedule. I don’t get to be around my family that much, but they understand that I need to focus and work hard [on my passion].

What’s an advice you’d offer to those who’d like to pursue their own passions?

I’d say to go at it hard. If you really want it, you have to prove it and show results. It can’t be all talk. I had that dilemma too, whether I should go to work, continue my studies or pursue pole dancing. My first competition was a gauge for me. Even though I was up against professionals, I trained hard ad managed to clinch the winning title. This was a major push for me to pursue pole dancing on a professional level. With that being said, it’s important to always have a backup plan. Even if I didn’t win, I wouldn’t give up the dream entirely, I’ll find ways to work around it.

This article was adapted from Teenage May Issue 2017.  

Do you know someone who has an inspiring story to share? Tell us in the comment section below, or drop us an email at [email protected]

Teenage Dance Challenge 2017 Finals

The school holidays are here! And what better way to spend the spare time you have than to find a part-time job to earn some extra moolah? We’ve made your job hunting easier by filtering out some of the best (and fun) part-time jobs to apply for. Get your résumés ready in 3, 2…

Barista


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Not much beats a cup of cuppa, except perhaps making one! Master the craft of latte art by learning the ropes at your local neighbourhood café joint, and serve up the frothy brews while you’re at it. The smiles and satisfaction of your customers will simply be the cherry on top of making that perfect cup of coffee!

Remuneration:  Up to $1o/hour

Pet Sitter 


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If you’ve got a soft spot for animals, why not reach out to home owners searching for individuals willing to take care of their pet (and house) while they’re overseas? Finding a willing party to entrust you is possible via a quick search on apps like Pawshake, local forums or online communities, or scouring pet interest Facebook groups – there’s bound to be a fellow pet lover looking for someone to perform simple tasks like feeding or walking their pets. Responsibilities can range from daily house visits, to possibly staying at the owner’s place while they’re away, or even boarding their pet at your own place. Similarly, the money you’ll earn really depends on the arrangement you have with each client, but additional skills like being able to groom, train or even administer medication to animals will surely come in handy. 

Remuneration: From $30 a day

Grocery Shopper


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What if we told you that you could earn money while on a shopping spree? Grocery shopping that is. Make a date with the supermarket and become an ad hoc grocery shopper for customers too busy (or lazy) to do it themselves. Through groceries delivery services like Singapore’s own Honestbee, you get the flexibility of even choosing which products suit the customers best, and you won’t even need to lug the heavy bags to their door step – other delivery “bees” will get that job done so you won’t break a sweat.

Remuneration: From $13/hour

Live Streamer


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While the social media phenomenon Bigo Live swept the youth scene when it launched late last year, it quickly drew flak for the negative undertone of the app not serving a “PG” purpose. That’s where local inception BeLive looks to differentiate itself in the live streaming scene, with a heavy focus on showcasing talents – from singing to cooking to magic tricks. And it seems to be working. With support from investors like MediaCorp and promotion via influencers, the app is fast rising as an alternative (and SFW) source of income for many comfortable in front of an online audience. Gain “stars” as you grow your viewership, and eventually cash out your “stars” just for showcasing your hidden talents! BRB while we go set up an account….

Remuneration: Up to $100/stream, and a potentially budding fanbase! More info here.

BeLive is available on the Apple iTunes App Store and Google Play Store.

Ticket Sales Agent


Credit: scene.sg

When it comes to concert tickets, we’re quick to snap them up, but why not try your hand at selling them (the legal way) too? Sign up to be a ticket sales agent where you can practice your customer service skills by helping others book tickets for upcoming events, handle the sales process from start to end, and share more about the latest ongoings Singapore has to offer. 

Remuneration:  Up to $1o/hour

Private Transport Drivers


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Don’t count out driving Uber or Grab cars as chauffeuring for retirees – millennials are starting to jump onto the bandwagon as well. And for good reason! Drivers get additional incentives based on various factors such as the number of trips performed, number of hours driven, etc. and these can help chalk up attractive earnings of up to $7000-8000 per month (!) – making this the prevalent part-time option for many. And if you don’t have your license to drive just yet, this is only a greater motivation for you to do so once you hit the legal age. It’s also a convenient way to socialise and explore new sights around the city!

Remuneration:  Up to $7000/month

Tuition Teacher


Credit: Blogorama.com

The tuition teacher you dreaded seeing at your doorstep when you were younger could very well now be you, should you opt for taking on tuition jobs during the school break. Brush up on your basic subjects and get ready to take on potentially distracted kids and worried parents, in exchange for a rewarding fee – made even better if you have multiple students at one time. 

Remuneration: Amount averages between $25 – $45/hour

Board Game Coordinator


Credit: Giphy

Sometimes the fun of the game is being an observer instead of a participant. Board game cafés are a frequent hotspot for weekend group hangs or late-night chill sessions, so why not try your hand at hosting board game sessions amongst groups of friends? Expand your knowledge of the board game world by learning the tips and tricks from the many variations and showcase your newfound expertise by sharing how each works to customers. Hey, you could even sneak a round or two with colleagues after working hours!

Remuneration: From $7.50/hour

Take our quiz in the June issue of Teenage to find out what part-time job suits you best, out on newsstands now!

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Marking his foray into the tourism and hospitality industry through his Bachelor of Science (Hons) International Tourism & Hospitality Management degree with MDIS, Joshua Koh shares his insights gained thus far.

With tourism being a key factor in Singapore’s economy, the demand for hospitality and tourism employees has always been high. But behind the glitz and glamour of lush staycations, impressive events and posh hotels, lie tons of hard work, sweat and sacrifice. Just ask Joshua Koh, MDIS Bachelor of Science (Hons) International Tourism & Hospitality Management alumna. When asked about his first real taste of the industry, Joshua recalls, “I was tasked to entertain guests, and to be a waiter to collect their dishes. The hours were really long and it was [the norm] for staff to pull overtime.” He continued, “The hotel industry is not as glamourous as it seems. There’s a certain level of stress, meeting customers’ expectations.” Nevertheless, Joshua remained undeterred.

Seeking to further his passion for the hospitality field – he was initially studying in another private institute – Joshua Koh turned to a trusted friend for advice. “My friend, who is an MDIS alumna, told me about how the school has a conducive study environment. The students are serious about their studies and MDIS has good facilities as well.” He continues, “He also told me that the lecturers would attend to your queries even after class, and stay back even till late into the night to answer any doubts.” Upon his enrolment, Joshua found these statements to be true. Realising that this industry was not one that would be easy, his experience in MDIS helped him tremendously in kickstarting his dream.

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Pictured: Joshua (far right) with his coursemates on a field trip in Taiwan 

“We had the opportunity to go on an overseas field trip, to Taiwan, [during the degree programme],” Joshua shares, “It was for an assignment, so we had to create questionnaires targeting locals and tourists to find out about their travel and food habits. We explored many areas in Taiwan, even night markets, to find out why they would choose to patronise that place, whether their intention was to eat or to shop for example.” He continues, “I found out that Singaporeans are more willing to explore and try new and exotic types of food as compared to other Asian countries.” This experience and information gained would prove to be valuable to Joshua, who aims to either work in a tour agency or events company in the future. “Whether I’m working overseas or in Singapore, I would be able to use what I learned to help my clients feel comfortable, be it with the food provided or the [attractions].”

Hands-on knowledge was not all Joshua gained. His lecturers imparted all sorts of valuable industry advice that would stick with him in years to come. “I learned the importance of always being prepared, and being able to foresee the future, to anticipate and to keep updated with market trends and changes.”

Get your head start into the tourism industry with MDIS! Click here to find out more about the courses available. 

Teenage Dance Challenge 2017 Finals

Having trouble answering interview questions? Navigate any curveballs thrown your way with this Q&A cheat sheet on some common questions you might face. 

“What Motivates You?”

There isn’t really a wrong answer to this question, but you might want to tailor your response to the industry you’re hoping to work for. Trying out media? Express your passion in creating content. Have a knack for business? Share the not-so lofty goals you seek to achieve in the long run. Ultimately, the aim is to assess your drive for the job and how willing you are to go above and beyond. 

“What Are Your Weaknesses?”

“Being a perfectionist”? Bad idea. While employers are not looking for textbook answers, they want to know whether you are aware of your shortcomings and how you overcame it. If you had difficulty staying organised, talk about how you brushed up on your time management skills. What that being said, don’t get overly candid about your flaws, you don’t want to kill your chances of getting hired!

“Tell Me About A Problem You Faced In School And How You Handled It.”

Save the story about the time you had a meltdown over spilled milk for another day. This question evaluates your ability to cope under high-pressure situations, and knowing how you handle challenges helps to determine your work attitude. Being able to think quick on your feet and make smart decisions are desirable qualities for ideal candidate. 

“How Can You Contribute To The Organisation?”

Chances are your interviewer already has a specific set of requirements in mind, so your best bet would be to list out strengths related to the position you’re applying for, while sharing your thoughts on how you can further contribute. Not only will they appreciate you giving your two cents, it also displays the effort that went into your research. This shows that you’re well-prepared for the interview, on top of your dedication in being part of the company. 

“How Do You Think Our Company Should Evolve In The Next Five Years?”

This tests your knowledge about the industry’s strengths, challenges and opportunities. Ensure you’ve done your research beforehand – make a list of improvements you hope to see, and plan out how you can help to implement these changes. Your interviewer will have a clearer idea of what value you can bring to the table after understanding your standpoint. Just remember not to slam the company’s existing practices or strategies in your quest to impress!

“What Are Your Strengths?”

A flip side to the earlier question on weaknesses. Employers want to know what strengths you have that can help the organization. Choose strengths that are relevant to the industry you are applying for. But do not simply rattle off adjectives such as ‘hardworking’, ‘enthusiastic’ etc. as your answers. Instead, back them up with examples of real-life situations in which those aspects were presented. An example would be describing the number of organisations you liaised with to obtain sponsors for an extracurricular project as being a go-getter.  

“Tell Me About Yourself.”

Don’t provide a detailed account on your life! What employers are interested in knowing is a summary on who you are and how your experiences and skill sets make you a suitable candidate for the job. You should give a concise summary of your work history, highlighting the experiences and skill sets you feel are relevant to the job as well as reflect the company’s values. This will sound out to the interviewer that you believe in the right values and have the skills for the job.  

“Is There Anything You Would Like To Ask?”

It serves to be prepared for this one – as this would be your chance to ask questions about the company that have not been covered during the interview, you should prepare a question beforehand. Additionally,  you can expand on the points that were mentioned by the interviewer during the interview and pose follow-up questions from there. This shows that you are attentive to the conversation while leaving the interviewer with a good impression of you.    

 We hope you’ll feel more prepared with these interview questions. Click here for more ways to prep yourself for an interview and score your dream job! 

This post was adapted from an article published in Portfolio, out on newsstands now.

Teenage Dance Challenge 2017 Finals

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