How important is Customer Service to you? It should be one of the major things you should be concentrating on. Customer Service is not only at the front counter or on the telephone it carries through everything in your business. Attending our workshop will provide you clarity, direction and ready to implement great ways to improve your customer service and increase sales. Register here
Michelle is the one who works behind the scene and at events watch this rare interview with Womenlines.
Entrepreneur of this month at Womenlines Michelle Mcfarlane founder of BWN Asia is incredibly passionate about her work and she has been through a very interesting entrepreneurial journey in Singapore..read and watch her interview .
It is always exciting working on the magazine reading all the stories of how the ladies got started, why they chose their occupation and providing tips for the members and readers.
Our latest issue with Lenny as our Cover Girl. out now Click here
Another magazine packed with information, tips and stories. Out Soon.
We had great tips on being productive, customer service and stories from members of our network talking how they got started in their business and the everyday challenges on building a business on your own.
In this issue, you will learn about our BWN Member Sandra Macheroux' story of setting up a successful business offering unique photographs of the Singapore landscape, that she herself captures. You will read about BWN's initiative helping local women in Bali, and connecting with the expat entrepreneurs in Bali. And many more inspiring stories by our members here in Singapore.
CLICK ON THE COVER PAGE BELOW AND ENJOY READING OUR AUG/SEP ISSUE.
This Issue we highlight some members of BWN and their businesses. You will discover in brief BWN Journey and learn more about our BWN Member Mishell as a self taught artist how she has created her success. CLICK ON THE COVER PAGE BELOW AND ENJOY READING OUR JULY ISSUE.
Our July meeting was all about working on our elevator pitch, the ladies wrote out and practiced mastering their pitch to people they are meeting for the first time. Meeting all the lovely ladies each month always inspires me to continue growing BWN and implement new things to continually help and support women in business. Our meeting is held at AAM Advisory board room each month. See you all next month.
Working on crafting an elevator pitch. Women in deep concentration.
Yesterday we announced our first issue of BWNASIA Magazine at the International Women's Day Networking Meeting. This magazine is dedicated to the all the women who have built or building their business. We all have stories to tell on why we do what we do, this issue is dedicated around International Women's day to share what has brought us to work in the professions we do.
Our network is full of very inspiring, motivated and like minded women who support each other and understand the importance of networking and collaboration. To read our magazine you can click this link https://goo.gl/9z1xNd
I would like to introduce you to Archana, if you have not met her at our monthly meetings yet, she is a lovely lady who can design a special piece of jewelery to your needs. She has designed many pieces and is always researching and trying new things to provide her customers with more choices to design a piece just for them. In just a short time since knowing Archana she has already taken her business to another level. Congratulations Archana and the team of Arko I wish you all a very successful 2017. Regards Michelle McFarlane
Below is an insight on how Arko started and the women behind the brand.
WHAT IS ARKO?
Arko… “Rainbow” in Spanish and “Sun” in Bengali, it is as vibrant and colourful as its name. Started in September 2015, Arko is a jewellery brand based in Singapore and founded by Archana Jain, a mother of an ever smiling 18 year old girl and a non-demanding 14 year old boy.
Her family back in India has been in the gold and diamond jewellery business for more than a century. Inspired by seeing her late dad and his team working in this field, her creative mind wanted to bring a range of personally designed, one of a kind, and affordable jewellery to the world. Hence, Arko was born in September 2015 which coincidentally has the initials of her and her husband’s name and she jokingly calls it her third baby.
As the name “Arko" explains itself, each of their collection is inspired by nature. Arko introduces new collections every few months, some of which are the “Glittery Stars”, the ”Rocky Mars”, and the ”Mysterious Ocean” collection.
Arko recently launched a unique “wearable art” collection which is the first of its kind in the field of jewellery. Each piece in this limited edition jewellery is a part of a “Forest” series canvas painting set in 92.5 silver.
Arko has created a niche market with its loyal clientele not only in Singapore but in Indonesia, America, and India as well. Starting its journey with exhibiting at a small shared table at a prestigious Indian exhibition in Singapore, Arko has since participated in more than a dozen well known exhibitions in the last year and has been a recommended brand by these exhibitors.
Arko has also been a jewellery sponsor for fashion shows where models were seen flaunting pieces with grace and glamour. Arko took another step forward when they started with the customisation of diamond and gold jewellery. With an order of a solitaire diamond ring, a ruby diamond necklace and a few more pieces in gold and stones, Arko is looking forward to expanding their business in this area.
BWN’S ROLE IN ARKO’S JOURNEY
Browsing through her Facebook posts one day, Archana curiously clicked on the BWN page and registered for their monthly meeting. The very first meeting with Michelle and other fellow members encouraged her to join the network and there has been no looking back since then.
BWN has always been a motivating factor for Archana. During one of their interactive meetings, a few members suggested her to rebrand Arko and include a tagline in all of her marketing products.
Through BWN, she was able to collaborate with a website designer, and through her advice, Archana was recently able to get a glamorous photo shoot done for its catalog. The revamped website is ready to be launched and she’s excited to release it along with the new online store soon. Archana is looking forward to collaborating with other BWN members and wishes Michelle and BWN’s members a very happy and successful business for the coming year.
I give great pleasure introducing Michelle Ma, when I first met Michelle she attended one of my workshops all about me, after the workshop we spoke for sometime getting to know each other, I was intrigued by her passions, stories and culture . She had a burning desire to get her business started and pursue her dream as an artist, ever since then Michelle has attended workshops, meetings, brainstorming sessions and have collaborated and gained friendships with other artist and business ladies of the network. BWN ladies, friends and family supported Michelle at her first art exhibition among other artist showcasing their beautiful artwork. I am so proud of Michelle's achievements and always look forward to what she is working on next. Congratulations Michelle Ma keep up the amazing work and to keeping your wonderful culture alive. Regards Michelle McFarlane.
Michelle was asked these questions from a publication and thought we would share them with you.
What have you achieved in the past 12 month?
I left the corporate world after working in Shell for 13 years to pursue my childhood dream, to be an artist. In June 2016, I had my first exhibition at The Substation in Singapore. The sales were great and was given very positive feedback by the public. Now my art works has been collected and traveling all over the world, such as USA, UK, Spain, Australia, Singapore and China.
How would you describe your personal vision? What would you say is the theme in your work? What do you seek to explore?
Quite simply, my personal vision is to bridge diverse cultures such as the east and west. Through my art, I want to break down boundaries and make life more free.
My current theme is based on my oriental heritage, which I connect to in a modern way by using strong colours that I apply with bold strokes using a palette knife.
I am currently exploring prominent female figures that have lived extraordinary lives, women that made a difference. I paint portraits of these women from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, to show that what happened over a century ago is still prevalent today.
I read about your journey from working at Shell, then motherhood and then art. When did you first pick up painting?
I started traditional Chinese ink painting when I was growing up in North East China . I must have been around eight years old when I first started under a traditional Chinese Xie Yi master. The Xie Yi master was apprenticed to Qi Bai Shi. I painted many Xie Yi ink paintings on traditional Chinese rice paper until the my focus shifted to getting good grades at High School before sitting for entrance exams for University.
I read that your early interest in art wasn’t encouraged. How does your family feel about your work as an artist today?
My parents often said to me that I never failed to surprise them. Like all parents, they were (and still are) very proud of their child. They were delighted to see that I was finally able to realise my childhood dream of bridging diverse cultures through art.
My husband is extremely supportive. When we met several years ago in Singapore, I was unable to paint so freely because time was poor. But in recent years, through my husband support, I have been able to take my hobby to a professional level.
Tell us more about your creative process.
My creative process is unique. Before I decide to begin on the next piece of art, I will question my personal vision and ask myself whether I feel it still remains relevant to me. For example, I ask whether the subject that I am painting would appreciate me sharing their extraordinary life, through in my painting.
I am lucky because so far, all of the subjects that appear on my canvases are close to my heart. Strangely I feel attached to them and therefore comfortable painting them.
Of course, if an artist told you that painting is straightforward, they would be lying. That’s because there are always unexpected challenges that pop up throughout the creative process.
How has your working process changed through the years? Why so?
When I first practiced oil painting eight years ago, like most amateur artists, I used a range of brushes to paint. But in recent years, I transferred my practice to a palette knife.
I feel the palette knife compliments the freedom of my hand strokes and this gives me greater opportunity to express my vision. Not only that, the palette knife offers a vintage effect because there are several under layers.
How long does a piece take on average? How long did you take to finish the series?
It really depends on the complexity and size of the painting, but typically from conception to packaging, it can take approximately 3-4 months.
Describe your studio. Where do you work on your artworks?
I currently paint at a shared art space located along Orchard Road, in central Singapore.
You’ve mentioned that you give notes on the paintings to collectors. Can you tell us about one of the paintings and the story behind it? As in, what’s shared in the note, how it connects with the collector, how the painting relates to your family’s stories etc.
Yes sure. One popular painting that a collector bought earlier in 2015 was called “A Dream In The Forbidden City”. I knew that because the collector was from the UK, they may be unaware of the story of the subject. Who was this woman.
So I wrote a short summary on a lovely card. It read:
After a few years of living in the Chinese Feudal society, she developed her own political ideologies. This lead to political ambition and coupled with her daring behavior brought trouble.
The Empress Dowager, Cixi, not surprisingly, took a disliking to her. Cixi’s authority and jealously had Zhen Fei imprisoned not once, but twice. Zhen Fei eventually committed suicide by ‘falling’ into a well. She was 24 year old. She is still remembered today”
Consort Zhen is a well-known Manchurian lady. When studying my family history I learnt that my late grandmother was also from a prestigious Manchurian family but due to the revolution of society, all of my grandmother’s family’s prestige and power was lost, practically overnight.
When I was doing the research, Consort Zhen’s story drew comparison’s my grandmother’s plight.
What aspects of China’s history fascinate you? What would you say are the aspects most personal to you and that you wish to portray in your work and why?
China’s beautiful history extends for thousands of years. The recent history, say nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century fascinates me most. Like many Chinese families, we endured some difficult times and we try to get better in every way.
I love painting portraits. I was an only child born in a relatively conservative environment. I have experienced the traditional ritual of being the only female child and that can often translate to the vision of my work.
Why do you love using the palette knife in your work?
I want to continue to challenge myself and by using the palette knife, it takes an artist out of their comfort zone. I feel the palette knife allows me to express myself freely. The texture always gives a vintage look, which fits perfectly with my theme.
You use bright, emotional colours in your work. How did you arrive at this style and why?
I used to paint a lot of Chinese Xie Yi on rice paper with ink but then I decided to try something different. So I experimented with bold colours using strong strokes. It didn’t take long. As an example, I seldom fill in all background layers on the canvas which was influenced by my Xie Yi practice.
What motivates you to keep working on your art?
There are so many things. I get a buzz from doing what I do and I genuinely love learning about my Chinese heritages and translating that onto the canvas in a modern way.
What’s your process like when you work on commissions?
Generally when I am approached by customers, I will arrange a consultation with the customer. Face to face is fine but if that was not possible, over the phone is fine too. It is critical to get acquainted with the customer to understand their desires.
I use a Collector Questionnaire which the customer can complete and this will help me to understand all important aspects of the piece, including such things as size and atmosphere they want to achieve through the art piece.
I want to be able to feel the energy and the passion they have for the art work. I want to be able to walk away from the consultation with a firm understanding of the research I need to undertake to present back as a formal proposal.
Once a purchase order is agreed, I will commence the project and share with the customer a list of milestone including the option to show progressive pictures of the art work.
My art work can be shipped worldwide.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future include creating more unique work, and sharing my vision. I love the the way that I bring back to life, incredible people from the east by using western methods.
Finally, I will hold a solo exhibition – you’re all invited!
What do you like most about BWN?
The first time I met Michelle Mcfarlane was Feb 2016 just before I started my art business journey. BWN gave me tremendous help. Through BWN, I met many inspiring women who were at the same business phase as me, kind hearted and business driven etc. My business wouldn't of grown so fast if I didn’t get involved with BWN at the early stages of my art business. The latest collaboration project was with Photographer Natalie Ziglaer from White Prangapani and Personal Stylist and Make-up Artist Jeann Ng for the lifestyle magazine featuring in December 2016.
BWN is a network I will recommend to any entrepreneur to join.