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Alvan Koh from MOKKO WOOD STUDIO, Singapore

Alvan Koh from MOKKO WOOD STUDIO, Singapore

How do you start your day?

Always with a to-do list! It sets the goals for the day and keeps us on schedule.

What surprised you most about running your own business? What did nobody tell you about?

Well, being a woodworker in Singapore is quite a unique profession. Everything we do, we had to start from scratch. From setting up our workshop to handling the marketing and procurement, there’s no model to take point from. Nobody told us it would be hard to procure certain hardware that we needed. For example, we use hardware of a very high quality when building fine furniture. This is easily bought in stores in places like America and Australia, but none of the hardware stores in Singapore stock such quality hardware. This not only applies to hardware, but also the tools that we use. We have to import 90% of our high quality tools from overseas.

What is bad advice you hear in your industry?

“You are so young, get out of this dying industry as soon as you can.”

What do you enjoy most about running your own business?

I love the autonomy, the ability to make decisions contributing to the best interests of the company. I’ve worked in companies where the manager makes decisions based on personal interests which can sometimes come in conflict with company interests. This leads to confusion within the department and is not good for the company.

What are the biggest challenges for MOKKO WOOD STUDIO at the moment?

The biggest challenge is to be able to hire skilled labor and retain them. As this is a highly skilled job, the talent pool is small.

What is your secret success weapon (family, someone who inspires you,walks....)?

KISS. Keep It Stupidly Simple. Being in the design line, I think the ability to be able to keep design simple is underestimated. In the furniture market, everyone is trying to be special in some way to the extent that it is quite impossible to find a simple and classic design. Well, it takes a bit of courage to not over-design so I think courage might be it.

Please share a golden nugget of wisdom for budding entrepreneurs

You reap what you sow.

Where can people find out more about what you do?

Instagram: @mokkowodstudio 

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