Finding clothes for your kids is easy. But finding quality, timeless and affordable clothes- that’s a different story! Aw Kam Mei was a mama who struggled to find clothes that fulfilled these criteria for her daughter, leading to her boldly venturing into a space then unknown to her. Four years in, and we now have a chic, urban brand that encapsulates comfort, style and affordability; perfect for kids between the ages of 1.5 to 12 years old.
Round Ages’ co-founder shares her story and experiences with us- from venturing into something completely new, and being a team player round the clock with her spouse, to navigating her role as a mother.
The brink of the pandemic
The birth of Round Ages was met with a shaky start, with it launching right before the beginning of the pandemic. “We really had to reassess whether we could pull through and asked ourselves whether this was worth the many risks and uncertainties involved,” recalled Aw. What pulled her through however, was keeping a positive mindset and thinking about the reason why she started in the first place.
With the business being founded on her desire of creating an avenue for children to express themselves, she clung on to her passion and the grounds that “it was going to take a lot more to defeat her”. “In the end,” shares Aw, “we decided that it was better to fail trying, rather than to have not tried at all”.
The inspiration behind the brand
It all started with the hunt for the perfect attire for her daughter. It wasn’t surprising then, when we asked Ms. Aw about the most enjoyable experience of her venture, that the answer revolved around her daughter. Ms. Aw talks about how it opened up her eyes to the creativity, perspectives and honesty of her daughter, as well as other children. “My daughter would frequently give her honest opinions on our designs (which resulted in several not proceeding for manufacture) and would even share ideas and sketches of what she would want to wear (which also inspired the creation of some designs). I learned that you never know the wisdom children can provide – they just need the chance to be heard.”
Life partners, at work and at home
Simply living and parenting together takes a whole lot of commitment, communication and work. Throw into the equation the added responsibility of being partners at work, and that brings teamwork to a whole new level! Aw has been working together with her spouse across many aspects of their lives; as proud parents to their daughter, business partners of a successful business law firm, and founders of kids’ apparel clothing brand, Round Ages.
On working together
The secret to her successful work arrangement? Aw and her husband keep their work responsibilities well-defined and make it a point not to interfere with each other’s work. “We will still give each other updates on our progress and give any insights that we may have, (but in essence), there’s no breathing down each other’s necks and no bossing around!” she maintains.
In relation to Round Ages, the delegation of duties for Aw and her partner is based on what they are “happy to do”. Aw, being more in touch with current trends, focuses on administration, finances and research. Her husband, the tech savvy and behind the scenes person, focuses on managing the e-commerce platform, inventory keeping and dealing with manufacturers and resellers.
When asked to share her advice for spouses who are considering working together, Aw emphasises the importance of “taking the time to discuss expectations and clearly defining responsibilities based on each partner’s strength and weakness.”
On drawing a line between work and home
Aw navigates this predicament by adhering to time management in general, instead of setting time-based goals. She feels that such goals do not “guarantee that you will achieve it, and may even cause unnecessary stress”, preferring to simply “work when it is time to work, and stop when it is time to stop.”
“By setting strict hours for work and family time together with your spouse, you can create a consistent and repeatable process. This also forces you to fully focus on tasks at hand (whether work or family-related) during the respective hours and prevents you from burning-out from overdoing it (in either aspects),” she explains.
To get the most out of your allocated times, Aw suggests setting a to-do list and an order of priority for the tasks at hand. Set your monthly, weekly and daily goals, and take actual steps to work towards it.
Tried, tested and approved
Potential little wearers themselves are recruited as testers of the apparels at Round Ages to give the final stamp of approval. Round Ages’ invites children of various builds from different families to try on their samples to test for its comfort and fit, with extensive research taken to design the most comfortable fit for ASEAN children. The brand works closely with their designers to select suitable, high-quality fabrics, with designs that will not “let the outfit wear the kid, but instead exude a sense of understated elegance and simplicity that will let the kid’s personality shine through”. Round Ages is now looking to expand to neighbouring countries, with their quality apparel.
It’s all about the journey, too
When asked about her personal plans, Aw replies that she just wants to do things that she and her family can be proud of, without any regrets, regardless of whether it turns out to be successful or not. “The destination may be important, but the journey itself is just as important as well. Otherwise, we would have no stories to tell.”