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Elder-preneurs show you are never too old to start your own business (Part 1)

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Bryna Singh

The Straits Times

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Some retirees discover new purpose in their lives by becoming entrepreneurs, or elder-preneurs

 

Many retirees look forward to putting their feet up after years of work, but some find new purpose and meaning at this stage of life by becoming elder-preneurs - entrepreneurs who begin businesses in their silver years.

 

SHE GETS NEW ORDERS EVERY WEEK THROUGH WORD OF MOUTH

MS TEO LAY HONG, 77 QUILTMAKER

 

Three years ago, Ms Teo Lay Hong took a patchwork blanket to church on a whim.

 

She had hand-sewn the blanket and wanted to see if anyone would buy it.

 

To her surprise and delight, a church friend told her she would pay $500 for it.

 

That was the start of her journey as an entrepreneur.

 

After retiring from a book-keeping job when she was in her 50s, she initially spent her free time travelling and playing mahjong.

 

Three years ago, she decided to return to sewing and knitting as a hobby.

 

Her skills were mostly self- taught, picked up from books and learnt from friends.

 

After the sale of her first blanket, she started sewing patchwork blankets, aprons and tote bags as well as knitting dolls for sale.

 

At $30 each, aprons are her cheapest items. She can make one a day.

 

The most expensive are patchwork blankets, which are made of thousands of hand-cut pieces of fabric that are stitched together. They cost $800 to $850 each and take four months to complete.

 

The widow has three step-children who are in their 50s.

 

Her Indonesian helper Kiyaratus Sangadah, 34, who lives with her in a three-room HDB flat in the east, is her trusty assistant.

 

To get inspiration, she goes on social media platform Pinterest. Materials and fabrics are bought from People's Park Complex.

 

Her earnings are divided three ways: One third goes towards covering her costs and getting new materials, one third goes to charity and the final third goes to her helper.

 

New orders come in every week, although she never advertises. People know about her handiwork through word of mouth, she says.

 

"I'm very fussy about my workmanship because I believe in doing things well," she says.

 

"My motto is: By love we serve. Nothing makes me happier than buyers who tell me they are happy with their purchases."

 

(Extracted from The Straits Times)

The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

 

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