Hanis Hussey knows plenty about fashion and style. After all, this Singapore-born beauty (That’s her on the left, in peach!) kickstarted her career as a model for coveted designer brands such as Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and others.
These days, you’re likely to find her flying back and forth between Singapore and the United States, simultaneously juggling grandma duties and continuing her work with the popular Expat Traders Asia shopping fairs, which she established in 2008.
The fair sees vendors from across Singapore gather to sell apparel, shoes, jewellery, home decor, educational products, wine and food.
But the outgoing mother of three didn’t become a business owner overnight.
First, she tried her hand at selling candles in fairs around the island. “I didn’t do well and realised that many organisers only wanted to make money off of us. They did not care about us,” she recalls.
Eventually, Hanis began volunteering to organise fairs at the Singapore American School. “After three years, I started Expat Traders Asia at the Marriott Hotel, before moving it to the American Club,” said Hanis.
Her experiences as a vendor came into good use, and she made it a point to take good care of her own vendors. “The team constantly asks for our vendors’ feedback to help the fairs grow and improve,” she says.
Not only has Expat Traders Asia given Hanis good relationships with various vendors and charitable groups, it has also taught her some important lessons: “Have a team you trust, think creatively and always listen to your vendors,” she stresses.
How does she measure success? “Happy vendors, customers with big buying power and competitors that imitate your business model are always a good sign!” Hanis says.
The busy entrepreneur is currently helping several Singapore-based vendors promote their brands in the American market by recommending their products to local stores.
She's also collaborating with a few women’s groups in the USA. “We produce fashion shows and will eventually set up the American chapter of Expat Traders Asia. Its like starting all over again,” she says. “Networking until the end of 2017 is going to be crucial.”
From The Finder (Issue 282), May 2017
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