This month, on the back of Mother’s Day, we turn our focus to the modern-day hero – mothers. Paying tribute to mothers in all shapes and forms, we celebrate real and raw stories of women who are on their journey of motherhood.
Kate is one of my dearest and closest friends of many years, and witnessing her growth as an entrepreneur and now mother, has been quietly instrumental in my own personal shifts in life.
As the founder behind Perk by Kate, Kate has grown the business from her bedroom to a full-fledged household name, with a beautiful flagship studio located at Telok Ayer. Weathering many personal struggles through the years, I have always admired Kate’s tenacity to go at it and never give up. Always positive, her energy instantly lights up a room. Now, with a beautiful two-year old in tow, she has grown from strength to strength as she gracefully navigates motherhood and growing her lingerie empire.
Kate wears the Cloud Cutaway Tank in Cereal, Treble Vest and High Waist Linen Pants with Origami Belt in Mocha.
You’ve often likened your eponymous brand, Perk by Kate to your first child. How did you divide your attention and efforts between your brand and Dawn, in the first few months of motherhood?
Perk by Kate is indeed my first baby! And always will be. It was truly stressful thinking about ways on how the two babies could be balanced, especially during COVID. However, when you get thrown into a situation when you just have to do it, you kind of just make it work. The fact that we were forced to stay home helped. I could put Dawn on a schedule and work while she was napping. In more drastic scenarios, I would baby wear her and work at the same time.
At work, I made sure that everything important was already sorted out before the birth. It was also awesome that I had a great team who had my back and helped to relieve any operation stress.
Were there some stereotypes of being a mother and running a successful business that you had to combat/ overcome?
I would have to say thankfully no. There is indeed a “Motherhood Penalty” out there, but that applies more to someone being employed in a corporate role, where one may be left out of a promotion, or perceived as not being able to perform her role as well as she should because she would be less dedicated to her full-time role.
Being a business owner has allowed me to achieve more than I ever imagined, on both the professional and the family front. I am able to juggle work and family depending on who needs me more urgently, and I am also able to find help should I feel overwhelmed. It also definitely helps that I do not have someone to answer to!
Kate wears the Lumen Shirt Dress and Dawn wear the for Pepi Dress with Curved Back Yoke.
What were some of the new experiences you’ve enjoyed as a mother that you never thought you’d have relished?
I enjoyed breastfeeding more than I thought I would! It was such an emotional and feminine act that I was absolutely distraught when my daughter started to wean herself off at 5 months old.
I absolutely loved seeing my daughter enjoy her food, and I also absolutely loved teaching her hand signs and seeing her still use them till now.
How has becoming a mother shaped your perspective of life and changed you as a person?
Patience and love make the world go round. I have developed an increased sense of empathy and realized that first tackling issues with love and understanding can minimize a lot of conflicts and negative thoughts.
Kate wears the Cloud Cutaway Tank in Cereal and High Waist Linen Pants with Origami Belt in Mocha. Dawn wears the for Pepi Modern Gypsy Top and Drawstring Capri.
Dawn got to spend her early months with you at work – in the Perk by Kate Lingerie Studio (where she’s become sort of a mini celebrity), in the office while you pack orders and (perhaps) even during your meetings. How was that like, and what did you miss most from those times?
It was one of the best (and most tiring) 18 months of my life! As a first-time mum, I wanted to be able to do it all, and refused to send my daughter in for infant care or even seek any extra help. I wanted to bond with my daughter and really see her grow and develop the proper habits and values I think she should have.
I was there for all her growth milestones. When she first sat up, it was at my office. To occupy her time at the office, we trained her to help take stocks. She took her naps in her stroller both at my office and at my studio to one very specific Jay Chou song. All my girls love her and miss her so much. To this day, when she visits Mama’s shop, she still points to the fitting room she had spent hours sleeping in and tells me “Dawn sleep sleep here.” I try to bring her to the studio every Saturday, and when I ask her what we do on Saturdays, she responds enthusiastically with “Go to Mama’s shop”.
While these are all memories I treasure dearly, I was quite relieved to move on as I was feeling the strain and fatigue from managing both baby and work. I do not regret a minute of my decision when I see Dawn being properly attached to me!
I was wondering whether or not I have the mental, physical and emotional capacity to do the same for my second child, and decided that I will take it one day at a time.
Dawn wears the for Pepi Dress with Curved Back Yoke, for Pepi Modern Gypsy Top and for Pepi Drawstring Capri.
What are some of your wishes and hopes for Dawn?
I just want her to grow up to be a happy girl with a big heart! She has started to exhibit signs of empathy and compassion, which makes my heart melt. Recently she saw a scratch on my leg and said “Dawn Dawn put cream for Mama” -melt-
How has the perspectives of being a mother changed, now that you’re expecting your second child?
Control is futile and it is better to leave things up to the flow at times. 😊 I am more chill with this second child, simply because my first experience has taught me that Google and books can teach me all the parenting strategies and coping mechanisms in the world, but a baby may not always adhere to my playbook.
Who are some of your modern-day heroes?
I seek inspiration from all the everyday women around me! My mum, my small group of friends (including you, Alicia!), my amazing customers and my dedicated team.
Every mother needs a trusty wardrobe she can fall back to. Tell us what your wardrobe heroes are.
Well-tailored dresses and jumpsuits! And not forgetting Perk by Kate’s lingerie and athleisure leggings. Because of my second pregnancy, I have been wearing Esse’s Aude Linen Overalls on repeat, and pairing Esse’s camisoles with my athleisure leggings. These ensure I still look presentable on a day to day basis!
What are your plans for Perk by Kate for 2022?
I don’t set super ambitious plans for Perk by Kate truthfully. I try to keep the soul of Perk by Kate alive, and realise that this spirit can only be felt if we keep ourselves small, dedicated and intimate. And that’s a business decision we have made, to never sacrifice the soul for growth. We take one step at a time. It is more important that I satisfy myself creatively and can still derive meaning through this work that I do, and that my customers hold our work in high regard.
Photos by Tan Xinning of Alone Together