For International Women’s Day this year, we thought it would be fitting for us to feature a female member of the Grouphunt community, a lady who embodies the spirit of this year’s International Women’s Day theme: Be Bold for Change. Angela Manners is founder of the website vanillabeige.com and co-founder of ordinarypeople.ink.
Hi Angela, tell us about yourself.
It’s so strange to be on the other side of interviews!
I was born in Bangkok and my family moved around Southeast Asia while I was a kid. We ended up in Singapore where I met the love of my life in high school, at the age of 16. We then went to America to further our studies. I did graphic design then moved to Australia to marry my high school sweetheart right out of College. We were 21. We lived in Australia for over 15 years. During that time, we started our own business, a design studio, but eventually, we came back to Singapore.
Why did you start Vanilla Beige?
I have a soft spot for small businesses because it’s hard work! I’ve done it myself. After my daughter was born, I wanted to be able to spend more time with her. That’s when we decided to move to Singapore. Being a stay-at-home mum was my initial fantasy but I quickly realised that I needed something else to do. Eventually (by sheer luck) I got introduced to a publisher and ended up writing for a food magazine which then turned into writing and becoming a contributing editor for their sister publication, a parenting magazine.
When I fell pregnant with my second child, I thought that dream of working with publications was over – I was heading back to diaper-land! However, after the birth of my son, I was asked to edit a pregnancy guide which then turned into an opportunity to partner in the relaunch of a parenting magazine. Unfortunately, my magazine didn’t make it to print.
It was such a disappointment because my team and I had worked so hard. We created pages and pages of amazing content and had fun in the process! It was hard to take but the three of us realised just how much we could accomplish if we set our minds to it. From the failure of that print publication came ordinarypeople.ink, a website that celebrates the amazing things that ordinary people do.
About six months later, I wanted to be able to focus on lifestyle topics as well as talk about what people are passionate about. That’s when I started vanillabeige.com. Vanilla Beige is a website that explores life and what people love. We focus a lot on small businesses because we think entrepreneurs are amazing and have such love and commitment for what they do. (Just one reason why we also love Grouphunt and what you guys are doing too!)
You could say that out of a major disappointment, good things were born!
What was a major challenge that you faced in starting your websites?
Self-doubt. I have no IT or digital background. In fact, I love print and paper. I used to joke that I was a dinosaur and technology could just go on ahead without me. So to do anything in the ‘webisphere’ was something I thought was far beyond me. My friends would tell me, “Angie, you suffer from ‘Imposter Syndrome’!” I did some googling and found out that it is a real “thing” where people live in fear of being found out that they are a fraud. It totally describes me! Self-doubt was and still is a major challenge! I had to tackle this when starting my websites.
Did the experience change you?
I think so. I came out of it all and welcomed like “yeah, I can do it” (even though I still suffer from ‘Imposter Syndrome’ from time to time). At the end of the day, I realised I was far more capable than I gave myself credit for and I’m very proud of all the stories that are published on both my websites.
Let’s talk a little about the women in your life - people whom you look up to and have inspired you.
My mum is really important to me. Now that I’m a mum, I know how hard it is, especially when juggling all the different balls I have in the air. But also, for me now, the women who inspire me are the people whom I’ve met through my websites – read their stories online. Women like Mishell (Milc by Mishell), a children’s artist. Karin van Vilet, founder of EATSingapore.sg (I’m all about coffee and food!), Shan Shan Yap (anupliftedday.com) and Winnie Chow (boxesnthings.com) who started their own online stores. There are so many amazing women!
These are the women who decided that they’re going to do what they want to do because they love it. And whether they were fearful or not, they put that aside and went for it. These are the women in my life who continually inspire me.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is Be Bold for Change.How does that resonate with you?
I’d say, take a risk and be bold. I feel funny when people say that I was being bold for starting my websites. But I did it because we had great content that needed to be shared. So I think to Be Bold means to just take a chance. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to try or change in your life, just do it. You might surprise yourself. If it works, great! If it doesn’t, at least you can say you’ve tried. So that’s what I really believe in. Sometimes you’ll have to do things out of your comfort zone, but do it anyway. It’ll change you as a person.
Happy International Women’s Day everyone! Celebrate a female, or anyone in your life who’s been bold for change. And if you’re thinking about taking a chance, be bold and make a change for yourselves.
For more information on International Women’s Day, visit their official site here.
Check out the Angela’s websites: