Two young entrepreneurs rise to the Covid-19 challenge

WOULD you dare to set up a new venture during the height of Covid-19 pandemic when many businesses have started to fold up and call it a day?


Call it foolhardy or crazy, two young entrepreneurs – Ang Pei Wen, 23, and Ailice Kang, 30, – decided to form an interior design company and got it registered in November last year.


Thereafter, they rented a 900sq ft studio unit in Maritime Block B in Karpal Singh Drive to begin their business from January this year. In the meantime, the coronavirus has wrecked havoc on economy and damaged people’s health and livelihood.


Ang (left) and Kang posing in front of the company’s logo.


They named their company Gauge Design Studio, with Kang as the executive director and Ang as the design director.


They only knew each other over a year ago. Kang was actually a client of Ang when she began working for an interior design company in 2020.


Ang had graduated from the Equator College with a diploma in interior design in 2019 while Kang, a former Tunku Abdul Rahman College graduate, has formerly worked in the accounting department of a multinational company before moving on to the sales team.


Kang said she and her fiance were initially planning to do a business related to home appliances and when they got to know from Ang that she would be resigning from her company, they talked her into a joint venture.


Ang busy with her interior design work.


“We know she has only a very short working experience of one year. We are not experienced either. We actually see interior design as a business that can complement the home appliance business we were thinking of.


“During our conversation with Pei Wen (Ang), we could see that she is very capable and responsible which is very different from young people her age.


“We could see her potential and seriousness when she was involved with the design and renovation of my new house. This really surprised us and we feel strongly that we can build a business together.


“There are so many young entrepreneurs nowadays. Why not try, I told her. If we never try, we never know,” Kang told Buletin Mutiara during an interview at their studio recently.


A pleasant office inside the studio.


Ang, who had some offers from other companies after her resignation, said she decided to team up with Kang for encouraging her to go into business and learn at the same time.


“Initially, I was not that confident. In the end, I chose to partner Ailice (Kang) because of the trust she has in me. I feel we have a good chemistry.


“The Covid-19 is a big challenge. My friends asked me whether I have made the right decision to start a business at a time like this. They have doubts whether the business can last more than a few years.


“I shut out all the negative talk. I don’t care because I know I can do it,” Ang said.


A section of the studio.


Although Ang may be a greenhorn, Kang believes that she has proven herself by handling many clients on her own.


“We feel more secure as we have seen her handle projects from A to Z, from customer engagement, to design and to renovation works,” Kang said.


It was not a smooth start for both of them. After renovating the studio they rented, they received a blow when the Federal Government imposed yet another lockdown.


However, Kang said she was quite mentally prepared for it after having earlier discussed the Covid-19 situation with her fiance.


“We’re prepared to face a lot of challenges and obstacles. Even though we could not carry out renovation works for our clients, Pei Wen could still work from home during the lockdown and draw the designs for them,” Kang said.


With all sectors already allowed to operate, both Kang and Ang now face a different challenge in booking sub-contractors as many others are also rushing to renovate their houses, especially in view of the coming Chinese New Year which is less than two and half months away.


“We only choose good subcontractors. We customise according to every customer’s preference and also their budget.


“We try to incorporate their needs or their wants. We try to design something unique for them. And for ourselves, we quite emphasise detailing,” Kang added.


While Ang is now working mostly on interior designs for residential homes, she is ever ready to take on offers for commercial projects too. In fact, she has one at hand and is awaiting approval after her design submission.


An excellent sea view from the studio.


Working from their rented 10th floor unit in Karpal Singh Drive gives Ang and Kang both a very nice sea view overlooking the Straits of Malacca.


“We feel peaceful and inspired working in this studio. We have a good ambience. When we are happy, we hope the good vibes will also help our business to eventually grow,” Ang said.


For enquiries, kindly contact Ang (+6017-446 7769) or Kang (+6019-831 1689) or email [email protected]


Story by K.H. Ong

Pix by Eng Kok Wei