Inspiring Stories: Ng Yi Lian On Making A Business Out of Fashion And Flowers

"It’s okay if you make mistakes, because that’s how you learn. You see the results of everything that you work hard for, which is really rewarding."


Jewellery, PANDORA Spring/Summer 2017 collection. Dress, Tory Burch


As a former fashion editor, Ng Yi Lian (@yilianng) has a preternatural penchant for style and pizzazz.  “For me, style is all about comfort. I like minimalism and menswear-inspired pieces, and nothing too body-hugging. It’s sexier to conceal than reveal,” she tells us st the shoot. Today, she puts that ability to good use styling others, as well as running her own business, Yilian Ng Flowers, which has become the go-to destination for fashionistas in the know. In an ongoing partnership with Pandora, we shine the spotlight on Yi Lian and three other dynamic self-starters that are pursuing what they love and inspiring others to do the same along the way.

I am inspired… By an amalgamation of everything I see, feel and hear.

I stay true to myself by… Knowing how to say no. I have a particular style of arrangement and like to use certain kinds of flowers. So when customers give me a budget that doesn’t make financial sense to me, I’d rather say no to the transaction. Once you’ve decided on the direction of your business, you have to stick to it.

So this is what I've been slaving over for the last week – setting this #yilianngflowershop up so it is to my aesthetic satisfaction. I won't say we are quite there yet but I'm deeply pleased with how it is so far. 😊 • I've been creating #yilianngflowers for 3.5 years now and a retail shop has always been a dream. I honestly never thought this day would come because we all know how sky-high rentals in Singapore are. I come from a very humble background and my partner is a full-time single parent who has immense financial obligations. • Having a retail shop is a big deal to me because I am a self-made person. I've never relied or be able to rely on anyone else financially but that's OK because I've been so blessed to be strongly supported mentally and emotionally by so many loved ones I find amongst my amazing pals and family. • So this is not just a shop. It represents my story and my journey and how I'm like most of you, who's just hustling every day to try to do our best. Like with every business, I have my disgruntled customers sometimes but I know I do my best because I know I can't live with myself if I don't. • To the great unknown Life will continue to show us. 😘

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I am motivated by… The fact that I get to do what I love. Whether your business is a success or failure is entirely up to you. You have to own it. It’s okay if you make mistakes, because that’s how you learn. You see the results of everything that you work hard for, which is really rewarding. If you’re going to work hard, why not do it for yourself?

The greatest challenge… Is overcoming my insecurities. Like a work of art, each piece I create is subjective. The insecurity of whether people will like what I do hits me every time. You don’t hear from clients if something is good, only if there are complaints. The only way you know if they like it is if they come back to you. At the end of the day, you have to tell yourself, I like it and I’m proud of it. You can’t seek validation from everyone.

The goal is to… Have another shop-in-shop concept, do bigger events and create bigger installations.

Do… Go out of your comfort zone. I style some private clients, and when I suggest certain pieces to them, they say, “That’s not me” or give other excuses. Why hire me then? Just give it a shot—you never know how things will turn out, so don’t limit your options.

Discover the stories of all the exceptional women in our series here: Andrea Chong; Jaime Lee and Sara Wee.

Photographed by Gan
Styled by Debby Kwong
Makeup and Hair: Manisa Tan/Palette Inc
Manicure: Audrey Wee
Photography assistants: Samsidi Baderi, Loy Kok Wee