As the year comes to an end, it is a yearly habit of mine to reflect on how far TSP has come and also express my gratitude to everyone who has helped this passion project of mine.
Back in mid 2017, when I first started the brand as a blog to share my experience in reducing waste and being more sustainable. I still remember my friend asking me, “Why don’t you start a business instead of a blog?”. In which I brushed it off and replied “Nope I don’t want to run a business. I have no intentions to, it is so hard!”.
Oh who would have known?
Then, while I was on overseas exchange and had the free space to think about sustainability in Singapore. I kept asking myself “How can I push for sustainability even further?”. That, coupled with me trying to lead a zero-waste lifestyle, was how I decided to take the leap of faith to kickstart the retail arm of The Sustainability Project.
So, I wouldn’t bore you with my 10 years journey that I shared countless times. If you are keen, you can read it here.
Today, it is for me to reflect on the past 3 years – of how far TSP has come, ever since I launched it in 2018.
As an accounting student, the whole concept of running a business was totally new to me.
From setting up the online shop to managing social media to even the simplest thing of pricing my products, everything was lead by intuition as well as passion.
What do I mean by that? It is like how
– We went about packing orders only with used packaging
– Having products as naked as they can be
– Not using any name cards
– Printing our price tags and sticking them on cardboard
All these little steps that we did just to be in line with my zero waste beliefs might not have made any sense to other business owners.
Then being invited to do pop ups across Singapore – from shopping malls to museums to offices to random places. It was a great opportunity to meet our customers and also share about our products to the mainstream market and let them be aware of the concept of reducing waste.
Then receiving emails from people who are interested to be part of the brand, to contribute and help push our message in Singapore. Being able to have our first few volunteers, then interns, then welcoming more interns and then having some part-timers.
Then having the opportunity to grow the brand further while stepping out of my comfort zone in doing talks, workshops and even providing consultancy services.
And being able to manage new brands, officially have an office space, start new initiatives and have volunteer teams manage those initiatives.
Well of course this whole journey hasn’t been all joyful with rainbows and butterflies. With an up, there is always a down to it.
I think one of the most difficult portions of running TSP is my struggle with finding the balance between environmental sustainability and financial sustainability. To ensure that every purchase that comes along the way is done consciously. To not feel guilty and question whether what I am doing with the Retail arm is really helping the environment or not?
There is also the constant thinking that the grass looks greener on the other side where I see other people having stable jobs. Wondering how it will be if I had a corporate job rather than choosing to kickstart this passion project of mine.
Having to keep my baby project afloat by juggling 1 full-time TSP while earning keep with 2 – 3 other part-time jobs. Wondering if I am losing myself and my passion with TSP, which I started all because of my passion. Oh what an irony.
Seeing so many new sustainable brands pop up over the last 3 years and being wary and concerned. Because to be honest, while running this as a business, competition is always a concern about our sustainability of the brand.
Then, facing mini-sessions of burnout while trying to cope with 101 various aspects of the business.
When everything did seem to be going well and the future looks bright, we faced COVID-19 as with everyone else and feel the financial stresses of a business, even further.
So what is to come in the next few years for TSP? I am going to be honest, I myself am not too sure.
But for now, what I am working towards in 2022 is work towards these 3 goals.
1. To continue publishing content with intention
2. To work towards our vision of making sustainable living easy in Singapore
3. To grow the community
And I am finally happy to say that after these 3 years, I can proudly say that I am content. Learning, growing and unlearning has been crucial over the past 3 years.
To finally be at peace with where I stand. To finally know that the grass might not look greener on the other side. To finally know how to take breaks and prioritise me and my health.
To know that financial sustainability is important to continue on this job but not to lose focus of why I started TSP. To know that to do greater things, I need to learn how to scale and grow.
To also say sorry if in any way the brand disappointed you or make you doubt our mission. To say sorry if we did not manage to work together with you as a partner because of limitations in capacity.
To thank you for supporting me in this journey. To thank all the amazing help we have gotten from past teammates, volunteers, brands, family and friends.
To be excited for what is to come in 2022. To look forward to 2022, to push for another year of sustainability.
To make it a promise to continue working towards making sustainability a mainstream in Singapore. To promise to be as transparent as we can be. To promise to keep fighting the good fight but knowing that I need to reach out for help to do greater things.
To promise that I have done my best in my entirety and that with TSP, I have made an impact in Singapore.