Eros Coaching decided to feature Winnie Ong, co-founder of Craft & Culture Singapore this month.
1) What do you do?
My name is Winnie Ong and I’m the co-founder of Craft & Culture Singapore. Craft & Culture is an independent craft brewery specializing in fermented beverages like Kombucha, Milk Kefir and other Probiotics. Recently we expanded into the area of natural probiotic skin care and we are really proud about the results after a year of research and testing!
My career path is a tad unconventional. I went to the United States to study towards a medical degree and specialized in Plastic Surgery, Dermatology and Lasers in graduate school in Boston. I also studied organic chemistry as an undergraduate and have an acute understanding of drug synthesis, publishing several articles in high impact factor journals.
Feeling scientifically accomplished but burnt out, I did a total 180 and decided not to practice medicine. Instead, I transitioned into healthcare consulting and then my second career as an investment manager when I moved back to Singapore. As a finance professional, I now help people around me grow their wealth in step-wise, sustainable ways and give frequent talks focused on women and financial literacy.
Unexpectedly in my talks, a lot of people later consult with me on health care matters because–“No Health, No Wealth”. That makes perfect sense to me from a holistic perspective. The general complaints I heard relate to bloating, vulnerability to falling sick and so on so I casually brought up probiotics and the fact that I brew them in my spare time.
What started as a simple hobby started taking off when people wanted to pay me to brew Kombuchas and Milk Kefirs for them on a regular basis! Together with my business partner Zhiwei, we set up Craft & Culture and started delivering Kombucha and Milk Kefir to homes in Singapore and do weekly pickups in several locations like Raffles place, Tanah Merah and Kovan.
2) Why do you do what you do?
I suffer from food allergies and eczema and taking Kombucha and Milk Kefir has helped manage my conditions and flare ups.
Medical journals have also indicated that healthy guts with good flora strongly correlate with excellent heart health, boosted immunity, reducing stress and depression and relieving allergic symptoms to name a few.
As incorporating Kombucha, Milk Kefir and fermented foods into one’s regular diet is fairly uncommon in Singapore, I wanted to change all that by raising the awareness of how prebiotics and probiotics are vital to maintaining good physical wellness.
“70% of our immunity system lies in our gut so making sure that our intestines are populated with good bacteria means falling sick less often”
3) How do you find time for all that?
It’s not easy balancing a full time job and a brewery business so I rely on a lot of people to make sure everything runs smoothly. This includes my business partner, my family and friends. They compensate for my weaknesses and provide the best support!
In addition, I commute on public transport mostly so lots of work and emails get done on the MRT and bus. The rest gets done in the later part of the day; I’m a late night owl.
4) What are your future plans?
Craft & Culture is in a stage of expansion and we’re blessed to have a small community of loyal customers who support us and what we do. We did fairly well for a small online-only business and reinvested a significant portion our funds into research for our skin care line. So far there is a lot of interest in our products because internal and external applications of Kombucha and Milk kefir show great results in dealing with eczema and itch!
Due to popular demand, we will also organizing several fermentation events and workshops with a trainer-friend of ours so it’ll be exciting when those projects start soon.
5) Any advice for others?
You are the average product of who you hang out with. Surround yourself with a trusted group of partners and like-minded friends who can help you advance your ideas and dreams. There will always be naysayers but hold strong to your convictions and dare I say it, TRUST YOUR GUT! Joke aside, I truly mean it.
Learn to hustle, sell well and recognize opportunities. People don’t buy products, they buy you. So be genuine and be you.
Lastly, travel to gain invaluable experiences and always take your Probiotics!
Note: I have not vested interest or benefit from interviewing Winnie Ong. I am doing so in the pure intention to inspire more people.