Cheryl Tan is my friend in "real life," and I find her to be one of the most interesting, kind, and lovely people I've ever met. She works at Stella and Dot corporate offices to manage strategy, and they could not have made a better hire for the job, in my opinion. She's stylish when she gets dressed, she has a stylish home, and she is mother to a stylish little girl, Noelle. I need to know her secret!
Time to get to know Cheryl a little better...
Also, SHOP Stella & Dot
Tell us a bit about your journey to the U.S.
I grew up in the tropical island of Singapore and only came to the US when I started college. I really had no idea what I wanted to do career-wise but I was good at math and science (typical, I know) so I figured I would get an engineering degree and ended up at the University of Michigan working on glamorous projects like automotive torsion bars. I went back to Singapore post college and worked there for several years until I decided I wanted to go get an MBA which brought me to Boston.. And then post MBA I came out to the Bay Area and haven't left since!
What are some differences between life in Singapore and life in the states?
I'd say living in Singapore is similar to any major metropolitan city where 85% of the population lives in high-rise apartments. It's totally normal to live with your parents until you're married as housing is so expensive. Few people own a car, most just take public transportation. Other things that come to mind about life there.. I hardly cooked in my kitchen – I didn't have time, and anyway there were so many amazing restaurants everywhere. Also I feel like there's a lot more news coverage on global affairs (probably because the country is so small) but it's funny because I often learn more about what's going on around the world from my Singaporean friend's Facebook feeds than from CNN. No one in Singapore plays baseball or American football. Oh and it's always 90 degrees outside so when it comes to retail, no one really talks about seasons.
What has been your professional path?
It's been such a random walk! It took me a while to figure out how much I enjoy the world of e-commerce and fashion. I went from working for the government, to industrial machinery, to business consulting, then retail, and finally ended up at Stella & Dot!
What is your role at Stella and Dot?
I'm the Director of Strategy and Customer Loyalty – which actually means I get to work on a little bit of everything! My current focus is working on different programs to engage and reward our customers and hostesses.
What are you most excited about seeing from Stella and Dot for the holidays?
One of the programs I worked on that we recently rolled out for the Holidays was the Hostess Exclusives boutique – where we've reserved some exclusive items that only Hostesses are able to buy. There's this amazing silver pegasus necklace and a cobalt leather tote that our design team did an amazing job on. Also I've gotten to see some sneak peaks of our Spring Line which is launching in January 2014 and it's stunning, I can't wait till we get to reveal it!
What are your favorite parts about working at Stella & Dot?
I'm always energized and inspired when I hear our Stylists describe how Stella & Dot has changed their lives and allowed them to have a flexible income while enjoying what they do! It really resonates with me, especially as a mom where I know how important it is to have flexibility in your schedule to be there for your kids. I also really enjoy the magic that happens at Trunk Shows - everyone always has a great time trying on necklaces and bags and it's such fun watching women bond over pretty things!
What do you enjoy most about being a mother?
I feel like I've grown so much as a person because of motherhood. There's something about being responsible for the well-being of a helpless infant, agreeing to sacrifice all your own wants and needs for someone else, learning that sometimes no matter how many books you read you have absolutely no control over whether your child sleeps/eats/is healthy/behaves well in public.. It's humbling and empowering at the same time. Before I was a mom I would get hung up by the littlest things ("omg, is that a grass stain on my new dress?") and now nothing really fazes me. And it's given me a tremendous amount of confidence in myself – if I can figure out how to keep a toddler happy and healthy, I can do anything!
What is your favorite characteristic of Noelle at her current stage in life?
I say this about every stage, but this one is really my favorite stage so far!! She's turning two in a couple months and is beginning to speak in simple sentences and it's so fun watching her think about what she wants to say and then try to verbalize it. Or just seeing how her mind works - the other day she was staring at a barcode, and then she said thoughtfully "Piano!", which cracked me up.
When do you feel most content?
Every night before we go to bed I give Noelle a big hug and we say a little prayer thanking God for all the fun things that happened that day – even if I've had a crazy hectic busy day I feel so at peace with her chubby little hands cuddling me and remembering how we have so much to be thankful for.
What's an ideal date night for you?
Both my husband and I love eating yummy food and are the kind of people that take forever to decide what to order because we'd like to try everything on the menu – so an ideal date would be something involving a smorgasboard of interesting food and/or small plates, like wandering around a great famers market, or Off the Grid, or tapas, or an omakase/tasting menu type of experience.
How do you balance your work life and home life?
I try to be flexible with whatever works best on a daily basis – sometimes that means working at home in the evenings after Noelle goes to bed, or leaving work early to bring her for a playdate. I'm passionate about my work, as well as being a mother and taking care of my household so it really all balances out in the end.
What are your top products and tips for new mothers?
I can't say enough good things about the grey crib we bought from Walmart.com – so affordable, gender neutral, sturdy, with modern, clean lines. And while I love the natural and classic look of cotton swaddle blankets, caving in and switching to the velcro synthetic fiber swaddle wrap (like the Summer Infant swaddle me) helped our newborn sleep so much better.
I also think new moms get so bombarded with marketing around all the special gear you need for babies, honestly you can get by and make do without a lot of them depending on you and your baby – e.g. I didn't get a wipe warmer, bottle warmer or a fancy breastfeeding pillow, but I know other moms who did and said they were lifesavers, and for them a velcro swaddle wrap was totally useless!
One more tip – get a diaper bag that doesn't scream "I'm a diaper bag" because you will be carrying it around everywhere you go for a while and that cutesy print is going to get annoying in about 2 months!
Tell us about your style uniform.
My favorite silhouette right now is comfy leggings with little booties and a belted dress/fit-and-flare. And of course accessorized head-to-toe with Stella & Dot!
What are your favorite brands and shops (for you and Noelle)?