MUMPRENEUR MINDSET: Faye Tan Shares Her Future Plans & What It Takes To Be A Mumpreneur

MUMPRENEUR MINDSET: Faye Tan Shares Her Future Plans & What It Takes To Be A Mumpreneur

Parenthood Cover January 2022


When a woman chooses to run a business, she is usually well aware of what’s ahead of her from all the life stories and experiences that she has probably read on the internet. Mix that up with motherhood, and that’ll take her to a whole new level. Everything seems to be impossible at first, but then she pushes through, keeps going and before she realises, she has achieved what she first thought was impossible.


Most mumpreneurs would agree that it’s not just a career, it is a mindset, a lifestyle shift that demands extraordinary management skills. For Faye Tan it was more of a push factor rather than a pull factor. Having worked in the finance industry for 13 years with about 30 people reporting to her, enough was enough when her baby sitter threated to kick out her child who misbehaved. With no peace of mind and limited nurseries and pre-schools within her vicinity, Faye decided to quit her job and open up her own nursery and pre-school – all while being pregnant at the same time.


Today, Baby Atelier has won close to 20 awards including four Parents’ Choice Awards just this year as:

  • Best Infant Care Programme
  • Best Kindergarten Programme (Boutique)
  • Best Toddler Programme (Boutique)
  • Best Multi-Sensory Curriculum (Boutique)


2022 will be Baby Atelier’s 8th year in operation and we heard that there are a number of projects in the pipeline that might just solve a number of problems for parents post-pandemic. In a recent interview with Parenthood, Faye spills the beans on her experience of being a mumpreneur – juggling her business, house chores and her family, her thoughts on the current education landscape in Malaysia and what her plans are in the near future.


The Mumpreneur Mindset

Parenthood Magazine (PH): What made you decide to be a mumpreneur? From the security of corporate life to opening your own schools, what was your push factor?


Faye Tan (FT): My children were very young at that time. As a Financial Controller, the job was very demanding – late nights, travelling, working weekends. I could not take leave or time off especially when my children were sick. It was very frustrating. Nurseries and childcare centres were quite hard to come by during that time. And even then, most of them opened from 8:30am to 6:00pm. The timing was not suitable for most working parents as we would still be in the office by then.


Many of the nurseries that existed during that time were home-based, run by retired aunties. They did not really have qualified nurses and educators. Having spent some years in corporate planning and business controlling, I saw the needs of young parents and decided to seize the opportunity of setting up my own nursery & pre-school.


PH: Some parents may think that having your own business is much more time consuming rather than working in an office- as you’ll have less time with the kids, what’s your thought on this as a mumpreneur yourself?


FT: Yes, it is very true that as a business owner, the responsibility is much greater. I have to see to every aspect of the school operations, from student acquisition to staff recruitment to curriculum planning etc. There is also the marketing and branding side of the business that needs to be looked into, ensuring that what we provide meets the needs of young working parents. At the same time, I also need to manage the financials and do the balancing act that the business continues to be viable and profitable.


However, running my own business also gives me some flexibility in working hours that allows me to attend to my children whenever they need me.


PH: This may sound cliché, but how do you manage to balance work and time with the family? Any secret formula?

FT: As a mumpreneur, I juggle many roles and the different responsibilities that come with each role. As a business owner, especially running a nursery & pre-school, I am accountable for the safety and security of each child enrolled in any Baby Atelier school. I design health and safety procedures to keep sickness and infections at bay. I make sure all the rules and protocols are strictly enforced to keep all the children safe and secure.


As the CEO of Baby Atelier, I also lead a team of very capable nurses and educators who are responsible for executing Baby Atelier’s programs and services. As a mother of two beautiful girls, I am very involved in their daily lives. We cook all our meals at home. We have our girls chat before bedtime. We plan holidays. We share secrets. I make it point to spend quality time with them every day. My workdays are usually very hectic with a long list of things to be done each day. And I work six days a week. Hence, exercising at least 4-5 times a week will sustain my energy levels throughout the day.


I carefully choose what I eat because I believe that good nutrition builds our immune system, our body’s natural defence system. We hardly use medication at home. I make sure that each meal I eat is packed with high quality plant-based protein and a variety of fruits and vegetables. I also make sure that I get at least 8 hours of rest every night. I set goals for myself, and I break it down into smaller action steps that I can take each day or each month to bring myself close to achieving that goal.


“I carefully choose what I eat because I believe that good nutrition builds our immune system, our body’s natural defence system.”


I believe in being the first-mover in my business, challenging my team to higher goals each year, even when the competitors are nowhere nearby. We constantly challenge ourselves beyond our present capabilities, driven at times only by the ‘never give up’ attitude that we strongly believe in. Most of time, when we take the first step out of our comfort zone, we will achieve much more than we set out for.


As a business owner, we have to resolve all sorts of problems and challenges every day – especially in the last two years. There were just so many unprecedented challenges, and the multiple lockdowns, fear and anxiety – had to a great extent threatened the viability of our schools. It can be overwhelming at times. I think it is very important to learn how to compartmentalise the issues or problems. When I am at home, I “switch-off” from work so I can focus on my family. It is easier said than done but it is not impossible to achieve. I make a conscientious effort to give 100% to my children when I am off work.


The Education System in Malaysia

PH: What do you think about the Malaysian education system?

FT: Many parents opined that the national curriculum is unreasonably tough and demanding. Despite the fact that most of the parents these days would want to see their children excelling in the Mandarin language, many of us worry that our children will struggle to keep up with tons of schoolwork. And I think the biggest concern for most of us is that we do not want to see our children suffer and lose their childhood. So, what do we do? It’s a daunting decision for many because we know our children’s future is in our hands.

The biggest concern for most of us is that we do not want to see our children suffer and lose their childhood.


Since we are on this topic, I would like to share that one of the key transformations advocated by the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013- 2025 is to reduce the emphasis on examinations and rote-learning, shifting the focus towards continuous assessments and independent learning.


Ultimately, the goal is to promote active learning through more varied and creative channels, leading to holistic and all-rounded achievers. Effective from 1 January, 2019, Continuous Classroom Assessments (“Pentaksiran Bilk Darjah” or “PBD”) has replaced written examinations in primary schools for Standard 1, 2 and 3. Instead of grading the children by scores or marks, the students are now being assessed by competency levels (“Tahap Penguasaan” or “TP”) for all the core subjects, Art and Physical Education. The PBD will assess a child’s language proficiency based on his or reading, writing, speaking and comprehension skills. For Mathematics and Science, the PBD observes a child’s knowledge, comprehension and application of the concepts learnt with a specific focus on high-order thinking skills (“HOTS”).


In a fun and socially inclusive environment, the PBD utilizes a variety of methods like games & quizzes, storytelling, role play and group/project work to assess a child’s competency level for each of the subjects.


The change in assessment method has taken away much of the stress that comes with the periodic written examinations. As a matter of fact, educators and parents have also become less anxious nowadays. The result is a bunch of kids who are really enjoying this journey in their educational pursuits.


So, does it mean we can relax? Not really. There are still a few things that we need to do to ensure that our child’s transition to primary school will be a walk in the park.


PH: How can parents ensure a seamless transition into primary school?

FT: No matter which stream of primary education you want your child to have, the most important thing is to enrol your child into a pre-school that closely maps its curriculum and approach with the primary education of your choice. For example, the teaching of languages needs to emphasise all areas of language proficiency; encompassing reading, writing, listening and comprehension skills. As Malaysians, all our children are expected to be avid readers and proficient speakers of all the three main languages.


The curriculum should be carefully planned and well- executed, engaging each child to develop a good understanding of basic scientific concepts through various experiments and hands-on activities. As a strong advocate of experiential learning, I believe that children learn best when they get to dig their hands into their assignments. This is where they will learn the basic scientific principles and develop problem-solving & logical thinking skills along the way as well. Working on group projects will also teach them how to communicate findings and observations, besides boosting confidence and public speaking skills too.


Baby Atelier has a proven track record for transitioning all our graduates seamlessly into any stream of primary education – particularly reputable, high-performance Chinese primary schools. Our award-winning curriculum has been widely- recognised by many parents to be the program of choice for primary-school readiness.


PH: How do you think parents can play a part in their children’s education?

FT: There were many instances when parents came to me and said, “I am not a teacher, the job of educating my child, I leave it to the professionals like you…”I am greatly honoured to be entrusted with this important mission. But, I will almost immediately tell them that, “You are your child’s best teacher. Your child adores you. They always yearn to become someone like you when they grow up!”. I know this for a fact because every child tells me that – when I ask them what they want to be when they grow up?


Our children look at how we speak to the rubbish collectors and security guards. They observe how we treat our age-old parents. They know when we keep our promises. They also know when we don’t.


Be the role model to them in your daily lives. Teach them about diligence and hard work in how you treat your bosses and colleagues. Teach them respect and compassion in the way you treat the poor or under-privileged. Teach them love and patience in the way you speak to your spouse. Teach them that the world does not revolve around them. Teach them that success comes after failures.


Education is not only about alphabets and numbers.



What’s Next For Faye Tan?

PH: Besides your nursery and pre-school, we heard that there are other projects in the pipeline. What’s next for Faye Tan?


FT: The last two years has impacted the entire industry and caused me to rethink about how our schools can remain relevant to the needs of parents. With multiple school closures, I believe many pre-schools and childcare centres are also struggling to remain sustainable.


Work-from-home arrangements and flexible working hours has become a norm nowadays even to jobs that were desk-bound previously. Companies around the world are reducing rented office space and allowing remote working and back-to-office rotations.


With the changes in the business landscape, one of the initiatives we are looking to rollout in stages over the next two years is the Baby Atelier’s Passport. This program is aimed towards improving the accessibility and availability of quality early education to deserving parents. Baby Atelier’s Passport holders will be able to check-in at any school on our network based on their preferred location and gain access to the childcare care services/package they signed up for. Their child’s health records, and developmental progress and milestones will be recorded and tracked across all the schools.


We are also working on an online platform where various education providers can collaborate and deliver their services through our Baby Atelier’s Virtual Classrooms. Our virtual classrooms are built on an integrated and comprehensive learning framework that delivers best-in-class remote learning to our children from the comfort and safety of our homes.


Our children will not only continue to advance academically, Baby Atelier’s Virtual Classrooms will also offer an array of enrichment classes ranging from music lessons and creative arts to public speaking, right-brain training and even yoga, dancing and sports activities. So come what may, lockdowns and all, we will ensure that no child is left behind!


As a parent, we tend to worry the most when our child is sick or unwell. And I think most parents would agree with me that we try to avoid hospitals and clinics as much as we can during the pandemic. So, what do we do if we need medical advice or when we are unsure if our child sick enough to warrant a visit to the doctor?


I felt very much in need of a hotline where I can call and have my concerns addressed without having to go to a hospital or clinic. This would be one of those situations where Baby Atelier’s Concierge Services will have a big role to play.


We will be operating a call centre 24/7 not only for our own parents but also for the public to access medical advice from health experts with just a phone call. Our panel of advisors comprises of paediatricians, nutritionists, pharmacists, and orthopaedic surgeons who will be help parents to ascertain the condition of the child and the necessary action required. Parents may even request for an ambulance or house call via our call centre.



The Future of Children Today

PH: What are your hopes for the future of children today?

FT: Besides developing their academic prowess, I believe that grit and resilience remain the key success indicators for every child. Research shows that having a growth mindset guarantees successful outcomes in almost every area of your child’s life from education to careers to even relationships.


This is also why Baby Atelier’s curriculum conscientiously allocates time every week to teach our children about the importance of building a growth mindset. A child with a growth mindset enjoys challenges, resolves problems with enthusiasm, and never ever gives up! They learn that their capabilities can grow with effort and hard work. They accept failures as part of learning and growing their capabilities.


I would also like to see our children growing into emotionally stable young adults, equipped withthis desirable trait to withstand difficult situations, handle adversity, and remain productive and capable throughout.


Lastly, I hope that it will always be ingrained in their hearts that – being kind is more important than being right. The act of kindness does not only soften hearts, it touches lives. The highest of all virtues, kindness should always have a special place in our hearts. So children, go on, be kind, soar high, make the world a better place!


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