Email Interview #35: Grace Tan

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Hi, I hope you have enjoyed my previous interview on a stay-at-home-mum who shared on how she runs her online business while taking care of her baby. In today’s interview, I have a stay-at-home-mum who runs a very successful blog shop which rents out children’s toys.

*Start of interview*

1. Please share with my readers who you are

I am Grace Tan, a Stay-At-Home-Mum (SAHM) to my 13 month daughter, whom I have decided to devote all my time to, after she was born. I made the decision to look after her myself as I felt that no amount of money could “buy” my time. I could always earn the money later, but no amount of money in this world can buy back the time I could have spent with my child in her growing years, and she is everything in the world to me.

It is also my responsibility to impart to her, values which she would take with her when she grows up. I am also passionate about “green” issues and aspire to bring my children up in an eco-conscious environment.

2. What business you are in and what is your website address?

I am currently managing Singapore Toy Rental, a home business specializing in rental of fun and quality toys at very affordable prices. Our website is http://singaporetoyrental.blogspot.com/ and you can “like” us on our facebook page www.facebook.com/singaporetoyrental to enjoy special deals and promotions as well.

We provide monthly rentals of toys as well as special party packages for birthdays and corporate events catered for children.

3. How does having a website/ blog benefit your business?

It helps us to update our customers promptly on promotions, new toy additions, and keep in touch with those interested in our business. It’s also a platform for our customers to share our business with their families and friends.

4. What motivates you to set up your own business?

When I was working, I was very involved in eco-friendly initiatives at my workplace. One of the many “green” initiatives we did was to set up a toy library where students, staff and public could pass on toys (which are still in good condition but not used anymore) to children in the lower income families.

During the collection process, I was amazed that we could collect a few thousand toys in a very short period of time. It then struck me that these still playable toys (which were bought with hard earned money) would have ended up in the incinerators if they were thrown away, instead of being “recycled”. It’s such a waste that so much resources and materials were used, just to produce these toys which could only occupy children for a very short period of time.

I told myself that if I am going to setup a business someday, I would do something “green”.

After I left my job and became a parent myself, I saw how many toys my little girl amassed in just a few months, and how long they could keep her interest! Some toys couldn’t even last a day! As a parent, I wanted to give her the best toys to play with, but at the same time, how could I afford to buy those expensive toys for her? Even if I had the money to buy, where am I going to store them? And what am I going to do with them after she is “done” with them? It was a struggle between giving her the best and the realities of life.

I am not sure how many little girls felt the same way, but when I was a little girl, every time we visited Toy R Us, I would ogle at those BIG, pretty Little Tikes playhouse and wonder if I would ever have one to play with! They were every little girls’ dream and seemed so wonderful to have! But, the reality is, they were just too expensive to buy and too bulky to store in a HDB apartment. So, nope, no way I am going to have one of those. But now, we can make that dream come true now, for many little girls!

That was how my business came about. I wanted to make every toy possibility come true for kids (and yet help parents go easy on their pockets in the long run!). But seeing how fast kids get bored and “dump” their new found toys and ask their parents for new toys, we hope to cut down the amount of “waste” generated by running a toy rental business. Why buy when you can rent at really affordable prices?

Singapore Toy Rental, is created for nature, for a greener future.

5. What challenge you did face along the way and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was whether or not to start this business in the first place. I gave up my job to care for my daughter so that I can give her my 100%. I did not want to be a mother who is physically at home with her, but yet my mind and heart is somewhere else thinking about my business. What was holding me back was that I was afraid that I would be unable to juggle between my business and caring for my daughter at the same time. That would defeat the purpose of me quitting my job in the first place.

My supportive husband is the one who helped me to overcome this challenge by assuring me that my daughter would have more toys to play with, if I started this business. So ultimately, she is the one who benefits the most from this business. =) So, well, for my little girl, mummy shall work harder!

6. How do you juggle your time between managing your business and spending time with your family?

While she is playing on her own (I encourage independent play), I sneak in some time to check on my face book and emails so that I can respond to my clients promptly. For the other administrative work, I try to do my work only when my daughter is napping or after she goes to bed at night. That accounts for late nights and less sleep, but I’ll survive! I have been well trained by my baby for this (think breastfeeding).

7. Any other final thing you would love to share with my subscribers?

Firstly, I hope that one day, toy renting would become a way of life for most Singaporean parents.

Try spending a day with Singapore Toy Rental http://singaporetoyrental.blogspot.com/ Once you have tried it, you (and your kids) WILL love it!

Many parents are very concerned about the cleanliness of the toys rented. We would like to assure them that by renting from Singapore Toy Rental, they can definitely have a peace of mind.

This is because, as a home-based business, the rented toys will be returned to us and my child will play with them too. As a mother (not just the owner of this business), I am as particular about the cleanliness of the toys as any other parent. They can be assured that each of the toy rented out is cleaned thoroughly with a biodegradable disinfectant which is safe to use around children.

The disinfectant is proven to be 99.9999% effective against the H5N1 “Bird Flu” and SARS viruses, and eliminates MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), VRE (vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus) as well as harmful, illness-causing organisms such as Salmonella, E coli, (causes food poisoning) Staph and Pseudomonas (infections), Rhinoviruses, (causes colds), Herpes simplex (cold sores), Influenza (causes the Flu), Poliovirus (causes HFMD), Trichophyton (causes ringworm), molds and mildew, amongst others.

I think we are the only one who ask parents to declare if their child has just recovered from HFMD/chicken pox/ other sickness as a preventive measure. When the toys are returned, we will ask the parents to declare again so that we can decide to “rest” the toy for a safe period after sanitising it, before renting it out again. We will not compromise your child’s safety over a few dollars lost in rental income. This is our promise to our clients, as part of responsible and ethical business etiquette. =)

*End of interview*

If you want to contact Grace, you reach her at singaporetoyrental @ gmail.com or drop her a facebook message

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