Updated: Apr 2, 2019
As featured on SassyMamaSG
When That Mama Daphne Hedley left Singapore as a teen, she had no idea that a finance career that took her from Australia, to Tokyo and all the way to London would eventually lead her back to the Little Red Dot. Now as a mama to an almost two-year-old boy and co-founder of natural living company Mekhala, Daphne is an old hand at multi-tasking and staying organised. We spoke to her about the path that led her home, her gorgeous little boy, and how she manages it all!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your career?
I’m a rebellious Singaporean who left the country in my teens to study in Australia. I went into PR, worked for a while at a bank, then continued my career in finance in Tokyo and London. After my dad passed away, I decided to pursue an MBA at INSEAD, spending 6 months in France before returning to Singapore to be with my family. I met my husband in Tokyo and then again in Singapore, where we got married and left our banking jobs. We travelled for a bit as I was undecided about what to do next before he got job back in Singapore. We returned 3.5 years ago and that’s how I ended up co-founding my current company, Mekhala.
Can you talk us through your career pre and post babies? How did you get back into the swing of things after having children?
I was in finance for most of my working life and lived in various countries, so you could say I was very comfortable with a somewhat itinerant existence. My husband and I took a while to get pregnant and we talked about how I wanted flexibility, to be able to spend time with the baby, and additionally also to have a career or job that I loved going to every day. Because I run my own business, I don’t think I ever stopped working! Our son, Rylan, was born at the end of November in Australia, and I was quickly back on email making sure we had orders sent out for Christmas. I still travel a little for work and Rylan is a good traveller, but I try to spend most of my time in Singapore and only travel for business if I have to.
How do you balance work and motherhood?
With lots of apps, a great helper, supportive husband and team, and a natural talent for multi-tasking! Honestly, I was exclusively breastfeeding but didn’t have excess milk to freeze, so I either raced home every 3 to 4 hours to feed Rylan, or I took him with me. He came to the warehouse where I sat on cartons, dirty and sweating, feeding my sweaty little baby. He’s also been dragged around in a baby carrier as I’ve overseen shop renovations, or sat in the car seat when I’ve been delivering goods. I have great support from family and my helper so I can go to the shop on weekends, or go on business trips. I’m fortunate that I can be flexible with my time, so now that Rylan goes to preschool three days a week, I take him to school, go to work or work from home, then pick him up three hours later, then get back to work again. I’m fastidious about dinner, so I’m lucky to have access to amazing produce and pre-made sauces!
How do you save time? What are your organisational tips and tricks?
One… shop online – it’s incredible how much time you save. I buy clothes, shoes, groceries, health supplements, baby stuff, gifts… everything really. Two… have a spreadsheet for everything, including work and personal details, so that you never waste time looking for information. Three… buy good quality pre-made sauces so you can cook healthy delicious meals in no time at all! While it does sound like a bit of a plug for my brand, this is precisely why we do what we do. Everyone’s so busy these days but we’re also becoming increasingly health conscious at the same time. We ensure our products are of the best quality, are easy to use, and also very versatile. For busy mothers, it’s a life saver.
Do you have any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and other working mamas in Singapore?
There are moments when I wonder if it’s all worth it – the racing around, long hours and stress of the business, whilst trying to spend time with my son and husband. Then I think about the future, when my son is old enough for me to show him the business, the farmers we work with and the community we belong to, and I am reminded that it’s definitely worth it. So I guess that’s what most working mamas need to remind themselves of – that your children will learn so much from your experiences and appreciate all the hard work you put into your business and career.
What is the one piece of advice that you want all families to know about natural and organic living?
It’s not that hard! Read the labels on the food you buy and aim to cut out (or reduce) refined sugar, white rice, bread, and artificial additives.
Favourite activity with your kids in Singapore?
Swimming! Rylan loves the water, so whether it’s our pool, a friend’s pool or the beach, he loves it.
Favourite kid-friendly restaurants in Singapore?
Din Tai Fung! Sounds crazy, but aside from the wait for a table, the service is efficient, they’ve always got a high chair and kids’ cutlery, and the dumplings are the perfect size for kids.