The entrepreneur and founder of Guiltless speaks to us about the second-hand industries potential for growth in Asia
We first spoke to Yen Kuok last year when she was in the process of preparing to unveil Guiltless. The youngest daughter of Robert Kuok has clearly inherited his entrepreneurial streak, given Guiltless’ positive reception and initial success in the digital marketplace. We speak to Yen about the challenges of running your own business and why there shouldn’t be a stigma towards being a savvy shopper:
I was born in Hong Kong and I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the city. I love the vibrancy and efficiency of Hong Kong but I find that sometimes people often take themselves too seriously.
Guiltless is a luxury fashion re-sale website that allows people to sell their second-hand items and purchase rare, hard to find goodies at great prices.
My proudest accomplishment is assembling a fun and cohesive team at Guiltess, it’s hard to find a good group of people who share your vision but who are willing to get their hands dirty and give each day their all. I think I’m very lucky to work with such a great group of people.
Looking back, I think I somewhat cruised through university without seeking challenges from the courses I took. I wish I’d taken on more interesting and challenging courses, like an additional major in psychology! What my experience taught me is to not let time simply pass you by, but to be comfortable with challenging yourself in order to grow and propel yourself forward.
I find inspiration in people like Ingvar Kamprad and Christy Walton—despite having all the wealth in the world as the founder of IKEA and the heiress to the Walmart fortune, they lead such grounded low-key lives, I’m humbled by their example and hope to emulate their accomplishments too.
As a child, I had a cashier toy set and I often found myself getting upset if the “merchandise” I displayed on my bookshelf seemed different from what was displayed in actual stores. You could say I always envisionied being able to run my own business. The upside of running your own business is that at Guiltless, I benefit from having an insider’s perspective and knowing what works and doesn’t work for our audience. Based on my own experience over the years, I’ve taken notes as to what I liked and what could be improved and I channeled that into my own business, I love it!
My advice to budding entrepreneurs is that start-ups often begin from an idea that inspires you. Creating your own business and becoming an entrepreneur has almost become trendy, but if you choose to branch out on your own it should be for something you are passionate about. Whether it’s recognising a need that isn’t being met or creating a new product, you should be prepared to roll up your sleeves and do whatever it is you need to do to make your idea a reality.
My end goal is to bring a sense of pride and desirablilty to the second-hand industry. I want people to realise that buying and selling pre-loved goods carries no stigma, in fact it reflects that you’re practical, sustainable and savvy.
In ten years, I hope Guiltless would have grown regionally with offices in Singapore for example and hopefully the groundwork for growing internationally to places like London, New York and Dubai. Personally, I hope I’ll be happily married and be able to start a family of my own.
My words to live by are: “Go big or go home!”
Photography courtesy of King Fung
With special thanks to Guiltless