The Pro Feature is a series where we shift the spotlight onto the people who have made countless “big day” dreams come true. Working behind the scenes, they each carry their own stories that are often too beautiful and intriguing not to share.
This week we shine the limelight on Bobbie and Jyue Huey, the founders of makeup studio – The Make Up Room.
It was in a spur of moment that the two best friends decided to take the plunge and venture into the beauty scene. Armed with basic make up skills and a sincere desire to make every person feel good about themselves, Bobbie and Jyue Huey have slowly but steadily made their way to become some of the best artists in the bridal industry.
Still, even after all these years some things don’t change. So when we asked if we could sit with them for a chat, they very quickly said yes! Next thing we know, we were huddled together on a stormy afternoon chatting until it had passed.
In that same vein, our conversation flowed from how the wedding industry is dealing with the current crisis (read more here), their encounters running a business together and the mindset we could adopt as we approach the day COVID-19 becomes (hopefully) a passe.
Q: At what point in your life did you decide to go into your field of work and what called you to it?
Jyue Huey: It was 2004, and one day over tea, I asked Bobbie if she would be interested to go into the beauty industry together. We both were interested in makeup and had took up classes by then and to my surprise, she said yes and quit her job almost immediately!
Bobbie: (Hahaha) Yes, I guess I started out not thinking of it as a business. I see it more like having fun; two friends having fun together!
Jyue Huey: Actually… even now, I still see it as us having fun (hahahah)
Q: When you were starting out, what’s the best piece of business advice you’ve received?
Jyue Huey: 先小人，后君子.
TWM Notes: This phrase directly translates to first being specific about terms and conditions upfront (like a villain), then being courteous (like a gentleman) later. Contextually, we can infer it as the practice to first be professional before going above and beyond to offer extra help or in other words, to under promise and over deliver.
Bobbie: Help each other grow to be the best, instead of competing. 大家一起好!
Q: What’s the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in your career?
Bobbie: We spend a lot of time on the job. Besides makeup trials and photoshoots that take place on weekdays, we also work on weekends. I am thankful that for the most part of my career I have a very capable helper who shares the burden of maintaining the household with me. But when I lost her, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the extra load. Your work and life just have to integrate somehow; instead of seeking a balance, seek integration.
Jyue Huey: I really really sacrificed a lot of my time; I am almost never present in family gatherings and outings, and there were times even when there had been a family emergency, I can’t just put down my work and attend to it because this is someone else’s big day. I guess it is also unfair to say it’s a sacrifice because I made this choice. I chose to stay, and I chose to go to work, so it is not exactly a sacrifice.
Q: Any words of advice to share with other business owners?
Both: We think each and every one of us has the responsibility to uphold the industry standards and ethics. There’s no competition. Instead, we should strive to bring up the industry as a whole.
As the rain slowed to a drizzle, we moved on to talk about the lighter parts of their lives!
Q: What’s your favourite time of day?
Bobbie: I don’t have a particular time of day that is my favourite, but I enjoy the time when I am driving because I am in my own space. I especially like it when I am driving, and it is time to end work for the day.
Jyue Huey: Just before bedtime, because that is when I start winding down. It also means I have completed all the tasks I needed to do that day and I am ready for the new day tomorrow.
Q: What’s your favourite wedding venue?
Bobbie: I don’t have a particular venue, but I prefer restaurants to hotels.
Jyue Huey: Raffles Hotel. There is just something about the infrastructure and space that charms me.
Q: What’s a cause that is important to you? OR What does the world need more of? Less of?
Bobbie: Sustainability. I am into recyclables and finding ways to reduce our impact on the environment.
Jyue Huey: Kindness and Consideration. I think the world needs more of that – people are kind to themselves but not so much to other people. Personally, I feel that if you can be a little unkind to yourself, you can be a lot kinder to others and we can all live in a better place.
Q: Do you have any all-time-favourite book?
Bobbie: “Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung” by Ajahn Brahm. It is a series of short stories written by a Buddhist monk. It is very easy to read and helps with mindset adjustments.
Juey Huey: “Wabi Sabi: Japanese Wisdom for a Perfectly Imperfect Life” by Beth Kempton. I really like and agree with the kind of mindset the book teaches. It is the Japanese way of viewing something that is perfectly imperfect.
TWM Notes: We love how the choice of books revolves around accepting something negative (like dung and flaws) and reframing them as strengths or opportunities for something better! Granted, 2020 has been a downer for most but it has also been the year many had the chance to press reset! Have you done the same?
Q: What’s your favourite wedding song?
Juey Huey: Nella Fantasia by Sarah Brightman
To say this has been one of the most enriching conversations we’ve had would be an understatement. It reminded us of the saying “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” For the past 16 years, Bobbie and Jyue Huey have worked together through all the challenges (albeit with some fun along the way) as business owners. It is only their hope that the makeup industry could work more collectively together to bring the industry further. Sacrifices will have to be made but everything is inherently a choice and above all, the right mindset is what sets one apart. Thank you for venturing into their headspace with us, we hope you get a thing or two out of it!
Feature image – Photo by 39 East Photography, Eng Hong