This month’s That Mama is serial entrepreneur Eugenia Yeo, mother of two and founder of super cool (and mama-friendly) Nodspark nail wraps
Earlier this year, our stylish team member Samantha tipped us off about Nodspark, temporary nail wraps that provide an affordable, convenient alternative to Gelish manicures. Coincidentally, the next month we were introduced to mama of two Eugenia Yeo, the brains behind Nodspark. It turns out, she got the idea for Nodspark a couple years ago while nursing her second child, and bemoaning the fact that she no longer had the time or patience for manicures. Leave it to a mama to figure out a stylish solution! We recently caught up with Eugenia to find out more about her work-life balance hacks, along with her wisdom on no-nonsense mama style. Read on for a refreshing interview, mamas!
Can you tell us a little about yourself, your career and your family?
I am a mother of two young children, and I run two businesses. I generally have a positive nature and am low maintenance in my daily life. I don’t have a huge wardrobe, nor do I own many bags or shoes. I do believe in looking presentable, so most of my beauty routines are kept to a minimum. I am also a very loyal customer to the brands that I use, the places that I choose to dine at, and the places I shop at. I’m discerning when it comes to shopping and make a quite a good customer — as long as the price is right. I sometimes wish that I could be that lady who always snaps the best deals during sales, but frankly, I do not have the time or the patience for that.
My career time was spent mostly starting my first business, Haf Box, a company that sells quality products for the modern senior. We went on to developing our own brand of fashionable walking canes, Cane Art, which we distribute and retail as well. Nodspark was conceived almost instantly as I fell in love with the convenience of nail wraps. I especially love the creative aspect of it as we get to come up with a variety of styles and designs. I see this product as low-commitment as compared to gelish nails, as you can remove them so easily and it will not break your bank. Hence, customers get to be more experimental with the designs on their nails as well.
Family-wise, my husband and I have two charming children, Luke (5) and Lyanna (3), who absolutely use that charm to get out of trouble. They are quite a pair of characters at such a young age, but that also keeps us on our feet all the time. (As if work isn’t challenging enough, you come back to two young kids who continue to work your brain till they go to bed. In a way, you count your blessings and are glad that they are thinking kids!)
Can you talk us through your career pre- and post-baby?
Career pre-baby felt like there was no limit to what I could or could not do. I was always on the move and had a lot of plans. Post-babies now sees me counting down to the minutes in everything that I do. I plan everything ever-conscious of my limits. I cannot commit to more than what I do, because that will eat into family time, my energy, or my health.
Every season has a time, and I do not look back wishing that could still be my life. I took this path of running my own business because I knew I wanted to be able to control the flexibility of my time when I had kids, so I just embraced it when the time came.
Every step is progress as long as you work towards being a better version of yourself than yesterday. One can say that I’m a better planner post-babies, as my deadlines are much shorter, and I’m forced to be more efficient with everything that I do in order to have enough love to go around the family, and keep some time for myself.
How did you get back into the swing of things after having kids?
Having a village of support helped me mentally and physically to get back into the swing of things. I always welcome help extended to me, and I trust the help that I have. So that made things easier for everyone involved. I also don’t come down hard on myself if I need to take time off to recuperate, or when I needed to go for a meeting two weeks after giving birth. You just do what you need to do, and come home ready to switch hats.
What does style mean to you? Has its place in your life changed since having kids?
I think having style doesn’t need to mean that you’re a fashionista. To me, style is the confidence you wear over your physical clothes.
Although, that being said, I think I became a lot more conscious of what I choose to wear after becoming a mother. (Confidence won’t hide your post-pregnancy tummy, but you can put in effort to wear clothes that conceal it better). I actually find myself putting in more effort to dress up, put more colour on my face (especially the lips), and pay attention to my hair even! Being a mother has aged my soul by five years, but I actually find joy in dressing up and being recognised for that effort.
Do you have any quick style tips for mamas with young children?
Don’t be shy to ask your friends or other mamas what they’re doing to look good! Nodspark, of course, is your go-to home salon for nails that gets you fixed under 10 minutes. Never underestimate the joy that pretty nails bring – one of my customers, a mom of twins and another older child, shared that having her nails done with Nodspark nail wraps, ‘gave her some glamour when she had almost none’.
For the face, I’d say having colour on your lips and some blush can make all the difference. Clothing-wise, try to stay away from loose tops and bottoms together, as that’ll make one look sloppy, as temptingly comfy as it is!
How do you maintain an identity separate from your children?
Having my own activities outside of children helps maintain that. For example: Work, having my own friends besides mom-friends made from their schools, and definitely having dates with my husband.
How has having children changed the way you define work?
Realising that work can be done anywhere, not necessarily behind a desk or in a fixed office! We have more flexi-hour arrangements with our new hires and myself after having children . We have done so many meetings via video conference and it works just fine, if not, more efficiently. Everybody wins!
How do you save time? What are your organisational tricks and tips?
I multitask to an almost unhealthy proportion. I take a lot of lunches in the car, in between meetings, and I do my nails while waiting for my husband to grab coffee in the morning. On a daily basis, I have to plan the night before on how to maximise my day after dropping the kids off at childcare, and picking them up in the evenings. My meetings are always either in the early morning, or towards the late afternoon so I don’t waste that half an hour going in and out of the office or breaking my time into two to grind through paper work.
I wish I had more time for…
My children and extended family
I always feel saner after….
A haircut or a hair wash. Decluttering is also a great option for me!
What part of Singapore do you live in? What do you like about it?
I currently reside in the central part of Singapore, near Novena. I love the speed of life, the convenience, and the tall buildings that help block out the sun! I thrive on such energy!
Favourite kid-friendly activity in Singapore?
Good old-fashioned cycling and exploring new playgrounds! We have such beautiful ones in Singapore — so blessed!
Favourite kid-friendly restaurants in Singapore?
Open Farm Community. I’ve only been there once, but I was impressed with their kids’ menu. It served up food that was as good and well thought out as the adults’, which I find lacking in the average restaurants.
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot in Asia?
We haven’t travelled within Asia with the children, so I can’t comment! But if I could choose, it will be Japan for Disneyland.
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
Stay hungry for each other! In communication, in wanting to spend time with each other, and in wanting to do things with each other! Acceptance and appreciation is the best concoction!
Favourite date night restaurants?
Our current one is the steamboat place Hai Di Lao. They open till 6am, so there’s no excuse to not being able to have a date night because of the lack of time. We are romantic like that.
Do you have any tips for working mamas in Singapore?
Just bite the bullet and keep going on those days that feel long! But don’t forget to take some time to appreciate your children at each stage, or you will always be looking back.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
Every child develops at a different pace, so don’t compare them to each other, or to yourself when you were younger. While we keep our minds open to the advice of others, we should know what’s best for our child at the end of the day.
Give us your essential new mama advice that might never occur to other women.
Take time to love and care for yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup!
As a mama I wish I were better at…
Cooking for my kids.
What’s your favourite family ritual?
This one happens only once a year: we will gather to bunk together in our living room on Christmas Eve for a sleepover and wake up on Christmas to a special breakfast.
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about….
How to make our SOPs (standard operating procedures) in the office more efficient, what else we can do to give back as individuals and as a company, quirky marketing ideas, and more.
My favourite moment of the day is…
At night when I’m checking in on the children in their own beds. They look the most peaceful. And of course I get to kick back and relax!
Thank you Eugenia! And thank you as ever to the fabulous Irina Nilsson Photography for the gorgeous snaps of Eugenia and her kids!