XZQT Style and Magdalene Sewing Centre: Aspiring Woman Entrepreneur 2020/2021
Founder of XZQT Style Pte. Ltd. and Magdalene Sewing Centre Pte. Ltd., Yvonne Ang
Virtue of Success
The success stories of female entrepreneurs are aplenty, but the challenges faced by these women are rarely discussed. Recognizably, the proliferation of capable female entrepreneurs have brought about greater ideas and solutions to real world issues. They are working hard to run from rags to riches and are truly remarkable and inspiring to budding entrepreneurs.
Yvonne Ang, founder of XZQT Style, specializing in customisation of corporate gifts, apparel, footwear, bags and accessories, is definitely the spotlight not to be missed. Mother to two amazing children, she embodies the spirit of new world women and beyond, juggling multiple roles while striving to provide a better life for the family.
Besides XZQT Style as her primary business, Yvonne took over Magdalene Sewing Centre just last year, a company which supply school uniforms to Singapore schools for the past 20 years and is one of the leading suppliers in the nation.
Endearing and passionate by nature, Yvonne is also a familiar figure in the Pasir Ris community. She volunteers in The People’s Association as a committee member of The Palette Residents’ Network – TPRN that promotes neighbourliness and fostering stronger social cohesion among residents. Her personal virtues have been duly recognized and is more than deserving to be presented with both the Singapore Prestige Class Award and Aspiring Woman Entrepreneur Award 2020/2021.
Connecting the Dots
Yvonne started her professional career with a Diploma in Sales and Marketing and has amassed 17 years of retail experience to some of the well-known brands such as World of Sports, Yonex and Fila. Started out as a Retail Merchandising and Purchasing Executive at World of Sports, her remarkable portfolio has gained her foothold in the management role at Fila (used to be an Italian cult brand now acquired by a Korean company), where she was in charge of overseeing the full suite of processes from material sourcing, design, manufacturing, merchandising, warehousing, marketing to sales.
Back then, she was the brainchild of Fila’s full range of seasonal merchandise designs, working closely with renowned designers on the creation of signature, ready-to-wear collections in Singapore. Challenged by cost and profit margin issues, it is a constant quest for Yvonne to source for affordable and the best materials without compromising merchandise quality while remaining affordable to the masses. She was also nominated to take charge of Fila’s retail store renovation projects where she was in charge of the design outlook of the storefront and oversaw the entire process from ground zero.
“It was a great learning journey at Fila where I was exposed to a wide spectrum of job roles and responsibilities. I am thankful for the amount of trust that was given to me which allowed me to gain deeper insights of how business should be operated.
Looking back and reminiscing the achievements I have had in the past, it all starts to connect together. The experiences that I have gained over the past 17 years in the retail industry have definitely help me in setting a pivotal foundation for my own business.” Yvonne shared.
When probed about why she left Fila, she shared that she needed a short break to better position her next trajectory of life. “I have been working tirelessly for the past 17 years. In the retail industry, one has to be constantly on standby 24/7 since shopping malls are operating daily. My mobile phone is ever-ringing and even if I am on leave, there are bound to be operational hiccups which I have to handle with care. On top of that my work required me to travel frequently. By taking a break, I am able to spend more quality time with my family, particularly my children.” Yvonne added.
But not long after, she decided to capitalize on what she does best – sourcing, design and manufacturing products and incorporated XZQT Style in year 2010, specializing in customisation of corporate gifts, apparel, footwear, bags and accessories for small and major events in Singapore.
The business world is often portrayed as a highly competitive ecosystem in which you need to fight to get ahead. To a good extent, that’s very true. At the very beginning, the business was operating on a ‘one-man show’, which essentially meant that Yvonne had to single-handedly manage the business on her own for a period of five years. But, not long after, her staff strength has grown which helped her delegate most of her roles and lessen the work load. At the initial phase of the business, Yvonne was plagued by budgetary constraints, which most businesses will encounter. However, over the years of working experience, she has built a strong network of credible suppliers and vendors. Her reputable work ethics and bubbly personality made her an amicable person that led to many opportunities and contacts which have been instrumental to her success.
The support system from her family and suppliers got her through the toughest phase of her entrepreneurship journey. They have given her immense confidence to take off the business and make strategic plans which are effective for future business growth.
“At the start and even until now, I had to tread carefully and exercise financial prudence. My passion has always been in purchasing and merchandising. Using my expertise in the retail industry and coupled with my passion, I knew just how to navigate my way to get my business on track. Of course, I am also blessed with the support from my family and working partners that resulted in the success of XZQT Style.” she recounted.
The prevailing COVID-19 pandemic outbreak puts a severe strain on Singapore’s economy and affecting businesses on an unprecedented scale, and XZQT Style was not spared from the disruption either. The onset of the pandemic has immediate repercussions for Singapore’s events industry collectively. Speaking about the impact that the pandemic first had on the events industry, Yvonne quipped: “In a matter of just a few weeks, physical events are either cancelled or postponed until further notice. My clients started contacting me one after another to put the orders on hold. I had a whopping sixty percent loss. We leveraged on Facebook LIVE to sell our items so as to close the depreciating gap. My staff’s livelihoods are at stake and I have the responsibility to take care of them despite this period of downtime.”
Late last year, Yvonne acquired Magdalene Sewing Centre (MSC) which incidentally provided her the temporary measures to tide over this crisis and ensure that her staff remained employed. She shared that the sales of school uniforms have increased during this period because parents are starting to buy school uniforms for the new semester next year. During the Circuit Breaker, some parents have also shared with her that their child had gained weight significantly while staying at home, which they had to buy a bigger uniform size.
Yvonne also shared more insights about Magdalene Sewing Centre (MSC), the brainchild of an Italian Canossian nun and missionary, named Sr. Marcellina, who was gifted in sewing and dressmaking. MSC started out by securing sewing contracts for school uniforms to fund for its missionary work during the early days. Dated back to the heydays, MSC also doubled up as a vocational training centre where Sr. Marcellina conducted sewing dressmaking courses for the low-income families.
Today, Yvonne continues the legacy by providing employment opportunities for homemakers with young children to work from home so that they can continue to receive some earnings while looking after their families. In fact, most of the seamstresses who benefited from the employment program at MSC had been working there for a period of more than 20 years. Given Yvonne’s forte in the manufacturing of corporate apparels and accessories, she also expanded MSC’s offerings from just uniforms to more product lines such as PE attires, school shoes and other school accessories such as socks, water bottles and more.
Despite her success, Yvonne has always believed in giving back to the society. In line with the Ministry of Education Financial Assistance Scheme (FAS) to help financially needy Singaporean students, Yvonne volunteered to offer free school uniforms and extended a lower rate for quality school shoes to students in need.
She also volunteers actively in The People’s Association as a committee member of The Palette Residents’ Network – TPRN, going above and beyond to understand residents’ needs, addressing their concerns and bridging solutions to their problems. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Yvonne and her family galvanised the band of neighbours to assist in the distribution of face masks and hand santisers to the residents in Pasir Ris.
Given her good relationship with the neighbours and residents of Pasir Ris, she took the lead in supporting the local hawkers by initiating a ‘group-buy movement’. She will collate food orders from her neighbours, placing food orders with the hawkers and personally delivers the food to them. From a small initiative, it soon transcended to a movement of bigger cause with more than 30 participating hawkers across Pasir Ris and supported them through over $50,000 of food orders.
“I guess the fundamental virtue not just in business but also in every aspects of our daily lives is to give back to the society. This virtue is manifested in my children at a very young age and I hope the act of kindness and generosity can be ingrained in their early development years. Whenever I can, I will involve my children to volunteer at the Residents’ Corner (RC). Sometimes, I will also ask my children to help out at the schools to issue school uniforms and shoes to the underprivileged students. My children love it and we cherish the time together rendering assistance to people in need. It is truly rewarding to see smiles on the faces of the recipients, brightening up the room!” Yvonne shared with contentment.
Looking back at her journey from the time she was working in the retail industry, to becoming a mother and embarking on this entrepreneurship endeavour, Yvonne is thankful for all the trials and tribulations.
“Life can be tough but a small gesture of kindness goes a long way. The younger generations need to embrace the hardships and learn not to take things for granted. Do this well and anything you wish to achieve, be it working for somebody or venturing in your own business, can then be truly satisfying and successful.” Yvonne shared.