An Exercise In Trivial Pursuits

Fatshion, Food & Frivolities – Life in Las Vegas & Singapore


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Guest Post: OUT OF THE CAKE BOX (Singapore)

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Remember Dana for the NYAW series? When we visited her at her flat last year, she surprised us by baking a cake in the image of Chloe and by also serving us so many yummy treats. At that point, she was just still completing her baking school and was on the verge of opening her own home bakery business. We knew just from the treats we sampled and the pictures of the amazing bespoke cakes that she showed us that it will be a runaway success.

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Fast forward to a year later and Dana has opened a brick and mortar cake shop! We were delighted to hear the wonderful news! We were invited to the soft-opening so JM and I went to check out what’s on offer. The shop’s located in the mature housing estate of Telok Blangah. It might sound obscure but it’s not. There’s an MRT station right at their doorstep and there are many buses that will take you straight into the city within minutes.

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The cake shop has a simple layout and basic interior design so you won’t find any hipster cafe pretensions here which is refreshing. The most striking thing about the interior is the beautiful 70-s mosaic floor tiles which Dana fought tooth & nail to keep. Anyway, the decor is the last thing one would notice because the star of this shop is the food – cakes and pastries!

Our Favourites

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Chendol Fudge Cake 

Gula melaka infused sponge cake layers with coconut gula melaka fudge and classic chendol toppings. We exclaimed in excitement when we first saw a photo of this on their FB page! Chendol in a cake! Perfect! We really enjoyed this because you get the flavours of chendol and the bits of attap chee and red bean. While one would expect a cake based on chendol to be cloyingly sweet, it wasn’t.

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Chicago Cheesecake 

Creamy and fluffy texture with subtle hints of citrus. This is really amazing. We’ve always found most American cheesecakes too dense and filling and the Japanese cheesecakes are too light and airy. Out of the Cakebox’s cheesecake is out of this world because they managed to get the right balance between the both. Highly recommended.

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Gnome Domes 

This was created by Dana’s pastry chef who they affectionately call the Pastry Gnome. It’s choux pastry with creme pattiserie. We don’t know how to describe except that it’s damn shiok. Really well made choux pastry with delightful cream with local flavours like Horlicks!

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Savoury Muffins 

I prefer savoury to sweet things so I was so happy to see this in the shop. Roast chicken, olives, petit pois, homemade pesto cream cheese frosting! Some people might be turned off by the idea of a savoury muffin but you just have to take that leap of faith and try it. Think Out of the Cakebox! You’d be surprised.

Tart au Citron 

It’s like biting into a super lemon tart. The tartness of the citrus hits you and then you taste the sweetness.

Milionaire’s Tart

Rich buttery short crust base topped off with sea-salt caramel and slow baked chocolate custard.

This is probably named Millionaire’s Tart because it’s so wonderfully rich

Everything we tasted at Out of the Cakebox was delicious and the staff were so friendly. We wish Dana and her partner, all the best and hope that their venture will continue to grow! They’ve worked so hard for this and we’re glad that Dana worked towards realising this cakery. She’s definitely not your average woman.

Do support Out of the Cakebox.

They are located at Blk 45 Telok Blangah Drive #01-173, Singapore 100045.

Like their page at https://www.facebook.com/outofthecakebox

Follow them on http://instagram.com/outofthecakebox

Written by Percy K.


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Not Your Average Woman: Katie Ichtertz

IMG_9120IMG_9144This is a special one – I went to visit Katie on 7th September when I was in New York City, to do this feature! Katie is my pal Ryddy’s ex-classmate from King’s College London (where they did their MA). Since they last met, Katie has lost a considerable amount of weight for health reasons but she did admit that she’ll “never be a toothpick” and at her current size, is probably the happiest she’s been. We go by the fashion industry’s misguided standards of anyone above a size 12 being PLUS SIZED and I’ve been happy flipping the metaphorical bird with my features of sassy, confident and stylish women who lead interesting, non-average lives. And I am proud to have Miss Katie Ichtertz (or kay-tee-aye as she’s more commonly known) in this month’s NYAW.

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Katie, a California native, is all of 25 years old. While she currently shares a cool apartment with 3 other flatmates in Downtown Brooklyn, she’s also lived in Spain and England. Her adventures started in 2008 when she graduated from the University of California to a lacklustre job market. She took the plunge and decided that the 1-year programme offered by KCL was going to be her next move.

IMG_9115For the last 3 years since finishing grad school, Katie has been living out of a suitcase. For work she has been jet-setting and living in different parts of the US – half a year at the Lincoln Center in New York, then the other half at the Sundance Film Festival (in Park City, Utah). How exciting is that? If anything, this girl is really dipping her fingers in every pie! Right now though, she’s decided that her base would be New York City and she’s also embarked on something else that has come her way – touring the country with the production “Man in a Case”, a play with stories adapted from Anton Chekov featuring Mikhail Baryshnikov! In case you’re wondering, he’s a famous Russian ballet dancer who’s also been in Sex & the City (wooing Carrie Bradshaw, no less).

And with Carrie Bradshaw, I’d now like segue to Katie’s style philosophy:

  • What is your dress/shoe size? I am a US dress size 14 with a size 10 shoe.
  • Describe Your Style Regal rocker. I love denim, studs and skulls, gems and jewels, wraps and classy frocks. I’m a huge fan of taking staple pieces like a color-blocked dress or a seemingly simple pencil skirt with blouse and glamming them up with fun statement accessories.
  • What do you normally wear to work or a work event/meeting? In the office, I usually wear black jeans with a blazer or a fun colorful blouse. I work long hours so I need to be comfortable but I also want to show off my personality and creativity. For events (of which there are many) I love to get dressed up to the nines. I plan a lot of parties and attend a lot of performances/screenings, so my favorite part is choosing what to wear (I’ve even calendered my outfits for festivals in my Outlook schedule!).
  • Where and how do you shop?  I have to be pretty strategic about my shopping since I live out of suitcases for much of the year. Each piece I buy has to count: it has to be timeless, comfortable and capable of being dressed up or dressed down. The benefit to being so calculating is that I only buy pieces that I absolutely love. You know when you’re in a dressing room of a shop and you think “I have to have this”… that’s my cue to buy. If it doesn’t scream to be taken home, I have to leave it behind. In the States, I most often shop at larger anchor stores like Macy’s, JC Penney’s, Target, etc. In London, I love Monsoon, Accessorize, and Dorothy P. In Spain, C&A is a trusty go-to… the sizing is too small and short (I’m 5′ 9”) everywhere else!
  • What are your favourite things to buy? JEWELRY! I go bonkers for fun earrings and necklaces. I spend more money on jewelry from Etsy, Modcloth and eBay than I do on clothing or shoes combined.
  • What are your favourite brands or shops? My favorite NYC shops for clothing are probably Fox’s and Century 21, both in the Upper West Side. I love finding unique and quirky jewelry on Etsy or at any of the awesome flea markets and craft fairs that pop up in Brooklyn (I love to support DIYers whenever I can!). For sneakers and sunglasses, I’m loyal to Converse and Ray-ban.
  • How do you dress on your blah-days? When I’m having one of those days, I put on a tried and true outfit, something that I know I look and feel great in and then I really doll myself up with makeup and baubles. Blah-days are when you most deserve to take some time to primp and pamper yourself.
  • When you were 12, what did you imagine your life would be like at your current age? When I was 12, I was absolutely convinced I would be married with children by 25. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would travel to and live in the places that I have. How lucky I am to have been so wrong. I hope for a family in the future, but right now I am very much in love with my gypsy life and my blossoming career.

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From being a UC Davis graduate in Spanish and International Relations to earning her MA in Cultural and Creative Industries from King’s College London to leading such an exciting, jet-setting life – this girl has energy, imagination and lots of guts! Go and be inspired by Kickass Katie!IMG_9121


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One year since the 1st NYAW

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HELLO!!! It’s been exactly one year since I posted my very first NOT YOUR AVERAGE WOMAN. If you recall, my very first one was Michelle Yeo, a dear friend and inspiration for living like no other 50 year old I personally know. There have been 12 stylish women featured so far! w00t!

I would like to thank my pal Ryddy for introducing me to some of the most awesome non-average women who strut their stuff with style and live by their own rules. Doing your own thing is so underrated. People should not let the fashion industry or societal standards limit what they can achieve.

I hope that this series will take flight regardless of where I am and please look out for my next feature coming up in early October, featuring someone I call Kickass Katie who currently lives in Brooklyn, New York!

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Not Your Average Woman: Audrey Sim

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Here’s a feature of another woman who has taken the road less travelled. Miss Audrey Sim is 32 years old and has just finished a stint as a flexi-adjunct teacher (a job she’s more than qualified for). As a former school teacher myself, I think it’s a very clever move as she has been getting almost the same salary as regular teachers but with 100% less administrative work and almost half the work-load. What a great scheme!

As this post is being published, she is on her way to Korea. Not just for a holiday, mind you. The last time she was there for a 2-week long holiday, she ended up staying almost 18 months. And then to keep herself afloat, set up an online shop selling CDs to K-pop/drama fans overseas and worked at the hostel she originally checked herself into.

This is not the story of an irresponsible woman who has no care for the world nor a rich, spolit brat who doesn’t need to work. Audrey’s love affair for Korea started in 2009 with the pretty faces (Kim Hyun Bin, I think) in K-dramas and has led her to Korea in 2011 to catch a 2AM concert, then missing her flight back to Singapore and in Audrey-fashion, making the best of the fiasco by staying on in the country for an adventure that lasted a whole year and a half.

This time though, the former school teacher is heading back to Korea for 3 months (or more) to learn the Korean language and she hopes to be proficient enough to read and write in Korean.

The elder of 2 sisters, Audrey has never felt pressured by her parents to conform to any Asian stereotypes. In fact, she says that her mother doesn’t believe that she owes anyone an explanation of how she leads her life. How open minded and awesome is that?

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Audrey graduated from the National University of Singapore’s Theatre Studies programme and headed to the National Institute of Education for teacher training. She spent the next 3 years teaching English and Literature in government institutions before finding that “the system” didn’t do anything for her. The following year she left the service and went to teach at enrichment centres as well as tutor privately before that fateful holiday to Korea.

Audrey loves K-drama and she’s part of a widespread fan community that spans Singapore and Malaysia. She and her other fellow fans translate movies and serials from Korean to Chinese, Chinese to English (subtitling) for the benefit of the general public. Something they do out of love and for practically nothing.

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Following this 3 month Korean language course she’s headed for, Audrey has many ideas up her sleeves including possible money-spinning business ones which she hopes her love for K-drama, K-pop and the skills in the language will give her a good foundation for. She is definitely not your run-of-the-mill, corporate Zombie type. Here’s a woman who is not bogged down by society’s demands and sees opportunities wherever she turns!

Fashion and style-wise, Audrey is something else too. Read on and make your own judgement:

  • What is your dress/shoe size? 18-20 UK/ shoe size really depends on cuts but 41 is a safe bet.
  • Describe Your Style Mostly a lot of mix-and-match. Really into dresses right now. And I like clothes that I can make the most out of, like a skirt that can double up as a top too. But no matter what I wear, it must be something that I’m confident of pulling off.
  • What do you normally wear to work or a work event/meeting? Smart casual. My former job as a teacher didn’t allow for a lot of creativity though I still try to inject a little bit of spunk here and there.
  • Where and how do you shop? Usually online. Plus size shops like Big and Beautiful. I go to thrift shops too. Because they actually carry plus sizes without crippling my savings account.
  • What are your favourite things to buy? Shoes. I am a shoe addict. I believe that shoes completes the look of an outfit.
  • What are your favourite brands or shops? I don’t really have a favourite brand or shop. Because it’s hard enough to find plus size clothes. We don’t really have the option to be picky.
  • How do you dress on your blah-days? If I’m going to stay home, I’d most probably be in my sleepwear. If I’m out but feeling blah, I just won’t put on make-up. Not even the basic.
  • When you were 12, what did you imagine your life would be like at your current age. Probably married with 2 kids. I have always wanted to be a housewife. It’s a notion that none of my friends believe. I don’t believe in that anymore too. Now, I just want to travel and experience as much as I can. Not wanderlust but the notion of settling down is unsettling to me.

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20130810-182235.jpgSo good luck, Audrey! See you on the flipside! Best of luck with your Korean language course and hope you find a business partner to help you fulfill your dreams!!


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Not Your Average Woman: Nurhidayah Mahadi

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Meet Hiddy – a freelance Wardrobe Mistress and Dresser, a career she got into after graduating from local art school LASALLE College of the Arts. How NOT AVERAGE is that? For those of you who’re unsure of what this is, basically her work entails cataloging and organizing the clothes, accessories and sometimes props for the cast of a theatre or dance production. And then a constant flow of prepping and removing, and helping actors change in and out of costumes between scenes during rehearsals and when the show goes LIVE. Hiddy has worked on hundreds of theatre productions since 2004 and counts Phantom for the Opera, Cats, My Fair Lady and Forbidden City among her favourite shows to work on. She hopes that the love she has for her work as well as theatre will see her through at least the next 20 years in this industry.

Hiddy is also a lover of stilettos and super killer heels. Shoes that are irresistably beautiful to her and yet sometimes hurt her feet. She admitted that she has at least 4 pairs that she hasn’t worn out yet (only to stand in them and admire at home). How many women are guilty of that? TOO MANY, I SAY!

Don’t look at the collection below and think that’s it. She says she spends at least S$200 – $250 on footwear a month if she has the time to shop. The reason her collection is “dwindling” is because her mother made her give away quite a lot of them rather recently. Also, these are just the high heeled ones that she counts as her favourites.

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On a hot Thursday afternoon, we visited Hiddy at the flat she shares with her family in Tampines Street 43 and we talked openly about clothes, shoes, freelancing, trying to explain to relatives what she does for a living and even her favourite holiday spot – Bangkok, Thailand (where she literally just holes herself up in a hotel for up to 2 weeks at a stretch).

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So according to Hiddy, freelancing is great because she gets to pick and choose projects, instead of being desk-bound to a stuffy office. She’s tried full-time work but it didn’t suit her lifestyle. At the same time, Hidy’s freelancing gives her the freedom to care for her mother who’s just beaten cancer. The wonderful daughter takes her mother to her check-ups and makes time to be available whenever she needs her. The downside to freelancing though, is sacrificing the special festive holidays and weekends – on days when people rest and relax, she serves the public as those are the days where shows are in full swing. This was particularly pertinent because we visited Hiddy a few days before the end of Ramadan, and when the Muslims in Singapore go around visiting each others’ homes celebrating Hari Raya Puasa.

When we approached Hiddy to be featured, one concern she had was that she felt she wasn’t “dressy” enough but we think that there’s room for all kinds of women and styles on this blog – as long as they’re not your average women! If jeans, bright bold lips and high heeled shoes are her thing, that’s a style and a type in itself! Agree?

Read more about her style here:

  • What is your dress/shoe size? dress size UK16/18 (depending on the cuttings) and shoes UK7/US10/41.
  • Describe Your Style Comfort, Classy and Timeless.
  • What do you normally wear to work or a work event/meeting? Jeans with a nice dress top. During rehearsal weeks, I’m clad mostly in jeans and comfy t-shirts with little or no make up. But once in awhile, I would dress really nice just to make myself feel extra beautiful. I love killer heels but it’s not convenient to wear it for long hours. So work events are good for showing off of my heels….and I love bootie heels too now. Current obsession.
  • Where and how do you shop? I do my shopping mainly online. ASOS. We should have more stores here that is plus-size friendly without burning a hole in our pocket. I don’t like splurging because I do not deal well with the guilt feeling after. I get all annoyed with myself. So I usually check out the SALE section. You can still look fabulous without paying a bomb for an outfit. But I do shop locally… Mostly at Dorothy Perkins and New Look. Once in awhile, at Cotton On.
  • What are your favourite things to buy? Jeans!! Denim can be fun and stylish…it’s timeless! Also, lovely tops from ASOS. I try to not buy more heels. My mother isn’t impressed with my obsession.
  • What are your favourite brands or shops? I really like ASOS. but i’m not brand conscious. Locally, I do like to shop at New Look for cool t-shirts and Dorothy Perkins for my jeans mainly.
  • How do you dress on your blah-days? Comfy jeans and loose t-shirts. I don’t really like flip flops even on my blah days. Yes, I really do not.
  • When you were 12, what did you imagine your life would be like at your current age? Successful, Inspiring and Fabulous with a lot of laughter and hilarious moments.

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And I asked… she DOES wear these super high shoes while running around backstage and dressing/changing the actors too! Well, she did admit to having some flats parked away at work in case she needs to get practical and not kill her back.

So there’s Hiddy – wardrobe fast-change worker bee behind part of the magic of theatre!


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Not Your Average Woman: Leah Keh Huier

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Today when we visited Leah at the Ang Mo Kio flat she shares with her husband and 2 children, we were greeted by 3 very lively Malteses barking away curiously.  Shortly after, her extremely friendly children Atticus and Ashlea came out to wave and say hello excitedly. It was such a sight!

Upon entering, you immediately notice how despite 2 young children and 3 dogs, the house is EXTREMELY TIDY and there is a lot of space!

Leah is in her early 30s and she’s a busy bee who’s striking a cool work-life balance. A highly sought-after bilingual Emcee, Leah’s typical weekday is jam-packed with activities. When she was rattling off her normal weekday schedule, I could barely keep myself from blinking – breakfast, send kids to school, Zumba, work meetings, pick kids from school, lunch, work meetings, dinner, etc. She’s definitely a very hands-on Mum who takes every minute by the horns. She also revealed that she’s a ultra neat freak who is constantly cleaning, reorganising the house, putting things in order (even her delicates are sorted by colour) and going after her kids. On top of that, she keeps herself even busier through additional charity work, raising funds for underprivileged families!!! (There were boxes and bags of brand new packs of baby diapers in her living room.)

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Leah’s so incredibly busy but keeps her cool by being so cheerful and upbeat. I love that while she was mock-exasperated by how her children seem to have “messed up her country themed” home since their birth, the two children obviously adore her. They were confident, chatty and loving even to us strangers. Leah’s 3-year old daughter Ashlea even handed her a tissue (without anyone’s prompting) to freshen up when we were trying to take pictures. How adorable is that??

At the start, Leah asked what kind of outfits she should wear and I merely suggested that she be herself. I’m sure people are more interested in the ordinary and everyday like how she dresses for work, a typical day out, the weekends etc. She hammed it up and even asked her 4-year old son to come into a picture and pretend to be spanked – a hands-on Mum and disciplinarian can still look good, you see.

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We talked about how she manages her life, the importance of looking good and not forgetting basic make-up on your face, gaining weight after child birth and trying to lose it via Zumba as well as the best places to shop. So meet Leah Keh – the woman who wants it all and is determined to give it her best shot.

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  • What is your dress/shoe size? Dress size 16-18 , Shoe size 6

 

  • Describe Your Style I am into rustic floral and bohemian prints. I work on anything that I imagine myself being able to carry off. I work on basic colours too and pump it up with loads of loud accessories.

 

  • What do you normally wear to work or a work event/meeting? Maxi dresses! I may be a plus size WFHM ( work from home mom), but being in the entertainment/ events business, you definitely have to look “out of the box”. I make it a point to dress up professionally yet still looking vibrantly colourful!

 

  • Where and how do you shop? I shop everywhere, but being in “Pro-small” Singapore, I sometimes stick to the usual brands of clothings that stock up on bigger sizes which then I pump up the look with accessories. My favourites are Monsoon , Dorothy Perkins and Marks and Spencer (yawn! but they do have very quality basic pieces)

 

  • What are your favourite things to buy? I love earrings!You can be wearing something boring but earrings can give it a 180 degrees change, in a good way!

 

  • What are your favourite brands or shops? Monsoon is my absolute favourite! They have loud and daring pieces that I love to put on when I host my live shows

 

  • How do you dress on your blah-days? Nothing beats just a short denim skirt and a plain top….but again, never forget those earrings!

 

  • When you were 12, what did you imagine your life would be like at your current age. I knew I would be just fantabulous! :)

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So what do you think of Leah? I love my NOT YOUR AVERGE WOMAN candidates! They’re all so inspiring! Knocking down stereotypes one at a time!


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Not Your Average Woman: Dana Yong

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As I continue to introduce you to real women who embrace themselves wholly, I’d like you to meet another fashionable plus-sized babe – say Hello to Dana Yong, ex-school teacher, baking student, former plus sized model, beauty pageant finalist and fashionista.

On the day we visited Dana at the flat she shares with her husband Danny and her cats, she baked us so many treats including one that looks like me! Can you tell which dress it’s inspired by? Heehee….

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Dana used to teach English and Physics in a secondary school for 3 years before caving in to her passion for baking. She’s now halfway through her Diploma in Bakery Arts and Science. Check out her blog at outofthecakebox.wordpress.com and her newly launched home bakery page https://www.facebook.com/outofthecakebox

Other than baking, she counts gardening and shopping online, her top 3 favourite things to do! Read on to learn more about her fashion philosophy:

  • What is your dress/shoe size? My dress size is UK18-20. Shoe size is UK8.
  • Describe Your Style I can’t put my finger on a specific style but I have a weakness for pretty dresses, especially vintage 50s styles. Bright colours, florals and interesting prints are the mainstay in my wardrobe. There was a period in my life I dubbed the Dark Ages, when black felt like the only, and safest, thing to wear, but I am so over that now. My mantra is to have fun and if it feels good, work it.
  • What do you normally wear to work or a work event/meeting? Now that my workplace is the kitchen, I am most often found in my chef whites. When I need to meet a client in a more formal setting, I can usually get away with wearing a smart dress in a fun print or bright colour and a pair of colourful kitten heels or ballet pumps. I don’t wear a lot of accessories like jewelry or watches, due the hassle of removing them when I have to be in the kitchen, but I’m partial to colourful shoes.
  • Where and how do you shop? I hardly ever hit town so most of my shopping is done online. If you possess a sewing machine and basic alteration skills (or know an obliging tailor), there is nothing scary about shopping online.
  • What are your favourite things to buy? Belts! Either very skinny or very wide, in every colour, finish or print. They add interest (and a waist).
  • What are your favourite brands or shops? I love to trawl eBay for vintage or retro finds. ASOS is great; shipping is free, plus I can shop from both the main range and the Curve range for sizes 20-26. For my wider-than-average feet and hips, I love Torrid for their generously-cut footwear and shorts. There’s also Orange Bear, the Taiwanese version of ASOS for plus size fashion, where I can get cute, casual outfits for a song.
  • How do you dress on your blah-days? Ok, I’m guilty. Flip flops. They are terrible, I know, but so comfy, especially after 8 straight hours on my feet in the kitchen.
  • When you were 12, what did you imagine your life would be like at your current age? At 12, 30 was so far from my mind! I graduated primary school with a bunch of really smart kids (Like, what on earth am I doing here with you guys?). While my peers were talking about going on to ‘atas’ schools like RI and RGS, I dreamt of marrying Willy Wonka. We’d live happily ever after in his chocolate factory and make amazing confections all day.

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I am very inspired by Dana for her conviction to her craft – baking. Few Singaporean women would give up a commonly thought of as stable and respectable career with a steady income to pursue their passion, retrain and then take the risk to start their own business. For that, she’s not your average woman.