Ditch your 9-5 job and do whatever you want, which is exactly what L'Etoile owner Yvonne Low did. She tells us what it’s like to be her own boss.
How many of us dream of ditching our regular 9-5 deskbound jobs and setting up our own cafés? Yvonne Low did more than just dream when she quit her job in property management and set-up L’Etoile café to rave reviews. She tells us what it’s like to be her own boss and no, it does not involve just sitting around and drinking coffee!
Yvonne: I was in property management before quitting and starting L'Etoile, and I decided to start the cafe due to a couple of push and pull factors. I had always wanted to set up my own business and at that point in time, it was a turning point for me and if I had to do it, it was then. L'Etoile was modeled after the indie cafes that I visited during my stay in Japan. In Japan, it is very common for cafes there to have French influences and that includes the names of their cafes. Japanese cafes are uniquely French-Japanese and that's how the name L'Etoile came about. It means "the star" in French.
Every business involves risks. I had a lot of what-if thoughts like ‘What if the location is not right, what if we don't have many customers, what if we run into trouble financially’...but I guess this is part of entrepreneurship. We are fortunate to have good staff in our team and a good supervisor who can take care of the cafe when I'm not around.
We have had lots of supportive customers since starting L’Etoile but we always welcome feedback because that will make us improve! We have also just started roasting our own coffee beans and would like to expand into this area in the future.
I think a lot of people think that all we [café owners] do is sit around and drink coffee. That is an absolute myth! Starting a business involves lots of hard work. You'd be working 12-hour work days, 7 days a week for a while at least unless you are very fortunate and have lots of help so my ten cents worth of advice would be to think through thoroughly before deciding to start your own business and to be prepared to work really, really hard. These days however, I do mostly 9am to 6pm kind of timings. Work covers the areas of admin, marketing and operational matters. And during my free time, I spend a lot of time dancing.
The most important lesson that I’ve learnt in life so far is to work hard and work smart! Follow your heart! If you enjoy what you are doing, keep doing it! And if the world were to end tomorrow, I would still love coffee!
- Ethel Wee
160 Owen Road
Monday to Friday : 11am to 10pm
Saturday, Sunday & Public Holiday : 9am to 10pm