Ms. Alicia Koh: Designing Interiors Out Of Love And Passion
I.Poise Pte Ltd
Entrepreneur and interior designer Alicia Koh’s brainchild, i.poise, is one of Singapore’s promising ID companies. It all started with a desire, a tug at the heart, an overwhelming “calling” to create and to be creative.
“Designing houses is my passion. It’s my first love; an affection that started when I was in my 30’s. I started designing the houses of my friends for free. I gave advice and consultations without anything in return. It was a great feeling to re-create spaces. Until my friend referred me to some potential clients who needed someone to decorate their abodes. I took the chance and grabbed the opportunity to work with different people.From there, i.poise was born and I maintained quite a number of clients who love my creations,” Ms. Koh says.
Soon, Ms. Koh’s passion bloomed into a successful business and she is now in her 16th year in the industry. How did she become a well-known interior designer in Singapore? In this interview, Ms. Koh relates her fervent journey to the creative world of interior designing and decorating.
The Challenges In The Business Of Interior Designing And Decorating
“It’s mostly a one-man team for me in the business. I do the job mostly. I only have one reliable trainee who is learning quite well. But, most of the time, I do all the work. I meet clients, buy the materials, make studies and design and do all the creations. It’s a hectic job, but I love it! However, I just realised that I need more manpower. The thing is, I need staff who have the same passion and dedication that I have for interior designing. I need people who have the same vision that I have; individuals who can think out of the box and be as creative as can be. This industry needs people who are motivated,” Ms. Koh says.
Another problem that Ms. Koh has experienced as a seasoned interior designer is collection of payments among clients. “It’s hard to work in this industry when you don’t have a level of professionalism. Thus, I try to be as professional when it comes to collecting payments. Payments and collections are the lifeblood of this business, well, besides creativity of course. A designer cannot buy the necessary materials and supplies for design and renovation, without much capital on hand.
Even among my friends, I exude a certain level of professionalism when it comes to this matter, because I believe that in any business, one cannot be too bending or too lenient. One has to be firm, yet in a professional way,” she tells.
The Next Five Years: A Look Into I.Poise’s Future Plans
Ms. Koh revealed that she wanted to establish her own showroom. “In the next five years, I am planning to put up my own display area where I can show my designs and reveal my own identity through my creations. This is my long-time dream and I hope that I get to fulfill this goal in the next few years. It will be a good business move, as people will get to know i.poise better and they can get a glimpse of what I do in the industry. I want to leave a trademark of my own.”
Ms. Koh also wants to offer products that the market will enjoy, like unusual decors, unique furnishings and distinctive pieces of furniture that will tickle the fancy of interior decorating enthusiasts and avid collectors. “In the market, there is a number of high-end kitchen cabinets that are truly good in design but so pricey. Many people cannot afford such luxuries. Thus, among my plans in the next years would be offering affordable products that are good to the market,” she reveals.
Pursue Your Passion: An Advice To Young Entrepreneurs
“Love what you do. It’s the simplest advice I can give to young and budding entrepreneurs. Everything starts with a passion and a vision. If you don’t have a passion or a vision in your business, it is like going through life without a purpose. If you don’t have a vision or a goal, it is also very hard to get inspired. So, set your goals and go and fulfill them,” Ms. Koh says.
Ms. Koh was inspired to pursue interior designing as a career and as a business because of her boss and another friend who gave her the biggest inspirations in her life.
“My boss taught me to design houses. She shared to me a lot of ideas and I learned a lot from her. She ignited my passion to pursue my first love. At one point in my life, I asked myself, what other things can I do in my life? I did not want to regret not having done the things I love most, including designing and creating. And that’s where it all began; the passion and all. As to opportunities in the industry, I have my good friend to thank for. He opened doors of opportunities for me,” Ms. Koh expresses.
Asked what principles she lives by, Ms. Koh says “trust is an important value in the business. You must trust yourself, you must trust your client and the client should put a great trust on you.”
Meanwhile, Ms. Koh comes to work day to day with a goal in mind, setting her mind to finish her projects on time. “Deadlines may vary, depending on the project. Usually, we work on simple renovations for two to three weeks. Some big projects have a timeline of 1-2 months. I always see to it that I finish my projects. It’s my motivation to go to work every day. I set my mind on finishing projects. It’s my passion afterall, and I get inspired when my designs come out great.”
“Sure, there are sleepless nights and stressful days, but all these are worth it when I see that my customers are delighted and satisfied with my service. Inspiration is everywhere; it sits in corners and unexpected places and it just comes like a sudden gush of the wind. For the young entrepreneurs, cherish the inspiring moments in your life and make the most out of it,” Ms. Koh says.
I,Poise Pte Ltd11 Tanjong Katong Road #01-24/25 One Km Singapore 437157