Easy-going Hon Kar Sing has tasted more than his share of hardship, disappointment, frustration, and fear, but in the end his unwavering perseverance led him to success and happiness in what he does best; business. Here, he shares with us his entrepreneurial endeavours before Melissa Shoes came about.
Prior to opening Papparich – the first ever franchisee in Malaysia, he also dabbled in property investment and by the age of 25, he had already invested in nine different condominiums. This brilliant entrepreneur is all about seeking true potential for franchisee businesses, “For something to be successful, you have to be focused. Here’s a tip, never step on two boats at the same time, and if you do, you’ve got to make sure the first boat you’re stepping on is stable enough.”
The idea of Melissa Shoes only came about when Kar Sing was in Hong Kong and recalled a friend telling him about the brand. He bought a pair for his wife to try it out. “After hours of traveling, I asked if the shoes were alright for her, she told me they were extremely comfortable and surprisingly, she had no blisters on her feet!”
Upon returning to Malaysia, the businessman had mapped out some plans for the shoes business and to cut the long story short, he launched his first outlet in November 2012 at 1 Utama Shopping Centre where huge number of pre-orders just kept coming in; all these in less than six months.
“We sold about 700 shoes within the first two months, which I was extremely surprised about and for a moment, I thought I was dreaming,” he giggles, adding “then, we decided to have our second outlet at The Gardens, Mid Valley in April 2013 and successively run our third one in Pavillion in 2014. Right now, we are foreseeing about making 30% more sales in 2015.”
Whilst the reality may seem rosy, one knows that you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain. When asked what have been some of the failures and the possible lessons the entrepreneur learnt, “I was basically nomadic. My family and I had to move out during the wee hours to avoid rental payment the next day. I have tasted how poverty was and I’ve learnt that, there is only one way at the front.
“What was nostalgic about my childhood memories was the part where my sister created our own Monopoly game out of paper materials as we didn’t have money to buy them.”
The heartbreaking story didn’t end there as his father also wanted to get out from this poverty stricken family.
“When I heard that, I was completely shattered. It struck me and questions of ‘what am I going to do with my life, am I going to quit studying and start working?’…That was the moment where I felt awfully weak but at the same time, the moment to decide on being independent came.
“I have learnt that, nobody is going to give you anything and you’re accountable for your own life.”
The fight for survival in spite of a seemingly insolvent life has certainly dawned and shocked the living daylights out of the young Kar Sing then. It is hence not difficult to see that such hard knocking experiences are what shaped this boy into an enterprising businessman. But today’s success aside, looking back, would he have changed anything if given a chance to do so?
“I wouldn’t want to take anything away from it. The only thing I hope for is to re-learn from the bad experiences rather than pushing them away because things that are bound to happen, would eventually happen.”
Such is his approach towards life today despite the rough growing years. Perhaps emerging victorious from the insurmountable challenges all his life has wisen him up, so wise he can pierce through any business puzzle like it’s just another board game. But regardless of whether it is a game or another business plan, this resilient 36-year-old entrepreneur has certainly made a future for himself, away from his nomadic lifestyle and onto a jetsetting high flying career.
Hon Kar Sing actively spends his time in Entrepreneur Organisation (EO), a business peer-to-peer learning organisation comprising of affluent members. This is where he learns and grows with his enterprising buddies. ◆