28-year-old traded cushy law career for uncertainty of entrepreneurship

28-year-old traded cushy law career for uncertainty of entrepreneurship

Being a lawyer might be hard work, but it's definitely worth the stable career and income. However, Singaporean Kendra Liew thought otherwise.

She decided to ditch her career as a lawyer and create an organic cosmetic line, affectionately named, Katfood.

Katfood, organic skincare at pocket-friendly prices

According to Kendra, Katfood aims to "bring you high quality food grade and chemical free skin and hair care at pocket-friendly prices".

ilovekatfood.com was launched in November 2014, with the online platform initially being the only means that customers could buy Katfood products.

Today, customers can also find Katfood on Zalora, Isetan, as well as in Naiise, which has recently launched vending machines retailing local branded products.

Compared to other organic skincare markets, for example, the US, Kendra felt that the local market lacked price-friendly products. Instead, the brands and products filling the local shelves were just full of chemicals.

Kendra explains that her decision to enter the organic cosmetic industry was also due to consumers becoming increasingly savvy and particular about what goes on their bodies.

"Consumers nowadays are so inundated with commercialised, chemical skincare that they are starting to look away from those options and instead explore simpler, more relatable alternatives."

Kendra has always been making beauty remedies as a teenager, and these were recipes that she also shared with family and friends. Hence, it didn't feel like she was going into uncharted territory when she started Katfood.

All of Katfoods' products are made to order, and each product comes in small sizes to ensure freshness and stability. One of the main selling points of Katfood is that their products are 100 per cent organic and "crazy for coconut oil", which Kendra considers "nature's super gift to us".

Katfood, like its unique name, also plays on other interesting names for its products, ranging from products like #NoFilter Makeup Remover, Huat Ah! Lip Balm and All About That Face Foaming Facial Wash.

No meant for the corporate life

Growing up, Kendra always dreamt of becoming a lawyer, because at some point of time during her primary school days, she decided she wanted to help people.

And somehow, the idea that being a lawyer would be a super cool way to do so got into her head.

Upon graduating from law at National University of Singapore in 2011, she practiced as a divorce and civil litigator for almost three years. It was around this point that she realised the corporate life was just not meant for her.

"I was not getting the sense of satisfaction I needed to keep me waking up every morning happy to go to work. So I quit, and started ilovekatfood and I've never been happier," she says.

As easy as it was to convince herself that she wasn't meant to be a lawyer, convincing her parents and friends about the same thing proved to be difficult.

"It was hard convincing my parents and some peers that giving up a so-called high flying career to slog it out in the startup world was a good idea. I also had to get used to not receiving a steady paycheck at the end of the month anymore. However, I truly believed in my vision and made the leap pretty easily," she explains.

No business knowledge

Legally-trained as a lawyer, Kendra found everything, from setting up the startup to running it, a huge challenge.

"I had close to zero knowledge on starting a business!"

To compound her hardships, Katfood was a one-woman show. This meant that she had to learn everything about the business as she went along.

She formulated a brand image and designed her logo and labels on Microsoft Word as she could not afford to buy the Photoshop programme. In addition, Kendra also had to teach herself to conform to compliance requirements, as well as learning to handle marketing and logistics.

Despite having received recognition and awards for her products, Kendra remarks that small businesses are often limited by tight budgets.

"Singapore is an expensive place and there are plenty of opportunities that we miss out on for not being able to throw large amounts of money at stuff."

The bright side of Singapore startup life

In spite of her challenges, Kendra still sees the bright side of startup life in Singapore.

"I would say that it is filled with tenacious and ambitious people. I get so inspired when I meet other people with their own startups. You can see the passion and longing as they speak about their businesses. This fills me with great hope for the future of entrepreneurship in Singapore."

Read also: Goodbye law, hello orders

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