Entrepreneur. Fashionista. Social media superstar. That’s how most of Singapore sees 28-year old Velda Tan (@belluspuera); founder of Collate the Label.
But today, you’ll get to see a different side of Velda. One that isn’t even known to her army of 134,000 Instagram followers. Today, you get to see Velda as a daughter.
Joining her on this interview is her 59-year old mother, Madam Josephine Tan. Seated comfortably inside their lush condominium abode, the bond between mother and daughter is evident from the get go. Their hands are perpetually locked together in a tight embrace. Knowing looks are regularly exchanged between the two. Even their vibes are similar, both of them radiating with quiet charisma.
In short, Velda and Josephine are the epitome of mother-daughter goals. But their relationship wasn’t always this rock solid…
Like most Singaporeans, Velda too had her rebellious days. During her junior college years, Velda was quite the party animal, Zouk being her club of choice. She would regularly break curfew, keeping her taxi-driver father and bank officer mother up into the wee hours of the night.
‘(She) got us so worried. (Her) dad would watch the door the whole night’
But the biggest strain on their relationship would have to be the times when Velda did the unthinkable. At the age of 18, she dropped out of her business and finance course at SIM University. Then in 2013, Velda shocked her mother (and the entire fashion industry) by leaving Love, Bonito; the million-dollar online fashion boutique she started in 2005 with her older sister Viola Tan, and her best friend Rachel Lim.
‘Sometimes, I wonder why she does certain things… like starting on her own.. or when she left school to start Love Bonito. It was a struggle for me.’
‘But looking back, she knows what she is doing, she is single minded. She is purposeful’
The surprising thing however, is that Velda has been acting on the very advice that her mother gave her.
‘‘Follow your heart’
That’s the best piece of advice that Madam Tan ever gave her daughter. And if we had to pick one phrase which summed up Velda’s entire life, it would undoubtedly be ‘Follow your heart’.
Not your typical air-headed influencer, Velda’s career in fashion wasn’t built on her looks alone. Her entrepreneuring spirit and keen fashion sense drove her to drop out of school to focus on Love, Bonito at a time when blogshops weren’t a thing yet. That move paid off, and within a few years, Love Bonito grew into an award winning SME worth millions of dollars.
Then when her heart told her to leave Love, Bonito at the height of its success, Velda listened. She went on to set up Collate the Label in May 2015.
But her instincts isn’t the only thing that Velda relied on. All her life, her mum has always been her source of comfort. And when you learn more about the incredible woman that Madam Josephine Tan is, you’ll understand why.
An incredibly resilient woman, Mrs Tan is truly a woman we could all learn a thing or two from.
At the age of 5, Madam Tan contracted polio. Left untreated, her right leg became paralysed as a result. But despite the challenges posed by her physical condition, Madam Tan never let her illness hinder her from living life to the fullest. She got her first job at DBS, a role that she’s held for over 40 years now.
What I love most about my mum is that she is very resilient, given her condition. Bearing three children, holding a full-time job also, cooking for us, her resilience is something that I admire a lot.’
But providing words of wisdom and embodying positive traits isn’t the only way Madam Tan has helped her daughter…
Madam Tan has put food on the table for much of her life, whipping up tasty homely meals that Velda and her two sisters always loved coming home to. And the dish that bought Velda the greatest source of comfort is none other than Shepherd’s Pie.
My mum put in a lot of effort cooking for us growing up. My mum baked Shepherd’s Pie every weekend. It’s like comfort food for my sisters and I.
We would go out as a family, go to parks, come back and have Shepherd’s Pie. She’s not an excellent cook but… it’s the kind of thing you grow up with that you miss when you grow up.’
Another comfort food for Velda is her mum’s porridge. Velda and her sister grew up on a light diet, comprising mostly of porridge, vegetables and light snacks. In fact, Velda didn’t have a full steak until she met her then boyfriend and current husband Fred!
The simple diet that Velda grew up on could explain why she remains so well-grounded despite the swirl of glamour that surrounds her life.
Family gatherings for the Tans are a simple affair. For the upcoming Mother’s Day for example, the whole family does what they do every year; get Madam Tan her favourite roses and have a simple family get-together over lunch.
The only hint of extravagance on their end would probably be an upcoming South African trip that Velda is planning with her mum and dad!
The bond between mother and daughter is beautiful, and their chemistry undeniable.
Their arresting chemistry became more apparent when I decided to bombard them with some unconventional questions…
1. If you could only survive on one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Velda: Oh my gosh. For me it would be vegetables.
Josephine: Vegetables too.
Velda: I think I got it from my mum (laughs).
2. If you were to have a food fight, what would be your weapon of choice?
Velda: I throw porridge lor. Soft and mushy (laughs)
Josephine: I will throw back vege at you.
3. If both of you invented a new dish, what would it be called?
Velda: We were laughing about it just now. I told my mum I will invent a Gingko Nut Porridge. Because it’s something that I grew up eating. We went to Korea together, and we went to this very nice porridge place.
Josephine: YES YES.
Velda: And they had all sorts of flavours. So I was thinking ya la, come up with a Gingko Nut Porridge.
Josephine: I think both of us love the comfort of porridge. So ya I agree, comforting, easy to eat.
Velda: That’s the new comfort food.
4. If you were a food, what would it be?
Velda: Oh my, what would you be mum?
Josephine: I would be a cucumber. Cool and refreshing.
Velda: So cheesy (laughs).
Josephine: Actually I got this compliment from my old friends.
Velda: That you’re a cucumber?
Josephine: They said Jo, you’re like a cucumber, cool and refreshing. Maybe (because) I’m always the cool and quiet one. How about you dear?
Velda: I don’t know man. Tofu maybe. Soft and fair and very malleable in a way, goes with everything.
5. Is there something that you can eat to always get you through a bad day?
Josephine: Porridge. Sometimes… I will pester my hubby to buy me chicken porridge if I don’t have the energy to cook it myself.
Velda: I think I got it from my mum also. Comfort food is porridge. Growing up, my mum never really encouraged us to eat fried food.
Josephine: They always remember me telling them not to eat luncheon meat… I don’t provide processed food…. They even laugh at mum; mum you always steam this steam that. (laughs)
What’s YOUR story?
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we’ll be sitting down with a few mother-child pairs to talk about their relationships and influences growing up. Do you remember the comfort food your mum cooked for you growing up and want to return the favour?
How does surprising your mum with a home-made spread made by your own two hands sound? This Mother’s Day, share a special memory of your mum’s home-made dishes to Bosch’s Facebook page and you could be 1 of 3 lucky winners to surprise your mum with your version of the dish for mother’s day!
We’ll get acclaimed chef, Chef John Sawarto, to guide you along as you prepare a meal for your mum, with everything documented in a video as a keepsake.
We’ll even do a photoshoot for you and your mom, and you’ll get a special gift from Bosch!
Terms and conditions apply. Participants and their mums must be available on 23 or 24 April 2016.
This post was brought to you by Bosch Home Appliances.