The founder of luxury bag brand Ling Wu, Ms Goh Ling Ling, started collecting vintage bags as a 14-year-old, and owns some from the likes of Gucci and Louis Vuitton.
Her first one was a Christian Dior Boston bag from the 1980s, a gift from her mother.
Now 41, she says: "I like old things. They have a mysterious quality about them and always leave me wondering about their past life, and who owned them. There's also something beautiful about imperfection - the word 'perfect' actually scares me."
Nevertheless, each piece of leather and sustainably-sourced animal skin used in making Ling Wu's bags are painstakingly rolled with glass bottles by artisans in Indonesia and Thailand. That treatment produces a luxuriously soft feel and slight glossiness which are signature traits of the bags.
"We've been working with these talented artisans for five years now. You don't need to have your bags made in Italy which conjures up images of veteran artisans hunched over their craft. In reality, the bags are made by Chinese workers in factories," she says.
Set up in 1999, Ling Wu's products are now stocked in Japan and Europe. The home-grown label's bags have also been seen on celebrities such as Korean actress Song Ji Hyo.
Prices begin at $150 for phone covers made of python and lizard skins, to $890 for a python and lambskin bag and $4,200 for a bag made of New Guinea crocodile skin.
Recently, Ms Goh showcased Ling Wu's fall/winter 2015 collection at Fashion Trade Show Edit, at the Javits Center in New York, and the Premiere Classe trade show in Paris.
The brand, which had its humble beginnings in her home, has indeed made good.
She said: "My son was little then, so it made sense to work from home so I could take care of him."
Her son is now four, and she also has two daughters aged seven and 11. She is married to a 44-year-old advertising creative director.
The busy mother says: "I'm blessed to have a husband who is very hands-on with the kids.
"I also try to stick to my nine-to-six working hours, as work can definitely be completed the next day."
She attributes her interest in fashion to her parents, who owned a business which manufactured sportswear and undergarments in the 1970s.
"There were always sewing machines at home. I'm also grateful that my parents gave me room to explore what I wanted in life," she said.
In fact, at age 18, she packed her bags and headed to study at the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London on her own.
And it has paid off - the grunginess of street fashion there influences her slouchy bag designs to this day, she says.
However, she takes it slow at times: "While building up Ling Wu, I learnt that growing slowly is good for the business. You need to have enough financial backing to move on."
7 THINGS IN HER BAG
1. CROCODILE SKIN NAME-CARD HOLDER FROM THE 1940S
There is brass hardware and I love the beautiful crocodile skin. I bought it from online boutique Vintage Skins.
2. CHLOE WALLET
This is the first branded wallet I bought eight years ago. I love Chloe's classic style.
3. APPLE IPHONE 5
I was contemplating getting an iPhone 6 but this is still working fine. Those are my children on the wallpaper.
4. MYSTIC VINTAGE GLASSES
These are great as they're lightweight and I wear them all the time. I also love everything vintage - I have lots of vintage furniture and my bag designs are influenced by vintage styles too.
5. TARA NOTES NOTEBOOK
This is always with me when I travel. I use it to jot down my schedule and it also has my daughter's drawings. This notebook is printed in India and I bought it along with a few artworks there.
6. CREED ORIGINAL VETIVER PERFUME
I've been wearing this men's perfume for eight years. I feel naked if I leave the house without it. It smells fresh and is not like women's perfume, which can be too strong and sweet.
7. RED PYTHON BATIK COIN PURSE
This was from our collection last year.
This article was first published on Mar 27, 2015.
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