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  • Changing Career Paths: Pharmacist Turned Entrepreneur

    Vivien Chong from Pink N’ Proper. Photo By Vivien Chong Vivien Chong, the founder of Pink N’ Proper, graduated with a Master of Pharmacy from the University of Nottingham back in 2011. She has worked as a pre-registered pharmacist at Stamford Bridge Pharmacy for five years before pursuing her childhood aspiration of starting a business and her long-lasting passion for fashion. In order to stand out from the crowd, she chose to venture into swimwear fashion which was not a widely favoured business in her home country. I had the opportunity of interviewing Vivien Chong to learn about her experience shifting career paths. What brought you to change your career path and start your own business? Vivien Chong: As I was raised by traditionally-minded parents, I was constantly urged to plan and execute a stringent, stable career path which was in pharmacy, but it just wasn’t in the stars for me. I remember the day I gathered the courage to tell my parents I wasn’t going to continue pursuing the path they wanted me to follow. This came as a huge blow to them and they disagreed with my wish. Luckily I had my partner, Alan who has supported me since day one. He has helped me to pursue my dream fearlessly. Turns out I am very passionate about helping people explore their style through affordable yet stylish swimwear. What risks did you face when you first started to fully commit to Pink N’ Proper? Vivien Chong: In 2018, I was faced with the hardest yet most important decision of my career which was whether to leave my full-time pharmacist job. Pink N’ Proper was initially an online blogshop in 2011. It was a part-time job that I juggled with school back when I was studying in the UK. Before I decided to make Pink N’ Proper official in 2018, I was still working as a full-time pharmacist while running Pink N’ Proper part-time. I went through all the ups and downs, trying to minimise the risks and losses if I were to go all-in with my business. In case this particular business didn’t work, I still had my full-time pharmacist job as a backup. I organised my schedule by having 9.30 a.m. - 7.00 p.m. dedicated to my full-time job at the pharmacy. Pink N’ Proper was based online so I just needed to work behind the scenes, I didn’t need to be at the front of my business. So when I got back from work, I would sort out the Pink N’ Proper orders from 9.30 p.m. - 3.00 a.m. Abandoning my full-time job and a stable income to start my own business was a massive leap into the unknown, and I was wondering for months afterwards whether I had made the right choice. It was the tipping point of my entire career that made me realise my identity and what I really wanted to do for myself. This shaped me into who I am today, a stronger person and therefore a stronger businesswoman. Did you receive help or funding from others? Did you have a support system to help you with your decision? Vivien Chong: With my full-time job as a pharmacist, Pink N Proper was fully funded by my partner and myself. The funds came from our full-time jobs. What mistakes or challenges did you face while running your business and what have you learned from them? Vivien Chong: Back when I first started Pink N’ Proper, running an online business was not as accessible as it is now. I have always wanted Pink N’ Proper to run fully online, so guiding customers while making sure the business was sustainable was one of my concerns. I rarely have such thoughts about mistakes made because things are usually well-planned so I don't look back and have regrets. I think hiring the right people is very important. I graduated with a Master of Pharmacy with zero experience in the field of business. It was a challenge for me to start because I had no clue where to begin! Brand-building and marketing was not my forte, so finding the right people from the beginning is very crucial. When you first started your business, what was your marketing strategy like? Vivien Chong: Via word of mouth! It is still the most powerful recommendation tool and social media has changed everything with that because, with one click of a button, any of us can share our opinions and experiences with loads and loads of people. They might then share with even more people, creating more buzz around your business. What is your proudest achievement to date? Vivien Chong: My biggest accomplishment is having my own boutique, a physical shop where customers are able to walk in to try out the swimwear and have a great shopping experience. How has the current COVID-19 pandemic affected your business and what measures have you taken to brave through this storm? Vivien Chong: As Pink N’ Proper is related to the travel industry, the pandemic definitely hit us hard. Due to the travel restrictions and lack of demand, our sales have admittedly been sliding down. Currently, we are focusing on brand awareness so that in the future when the pandemic has ended, our customers will still recall our brand. Our main focuses currently are brand awareness, as well as engaging and interacting directly with our audience. I think that during times like these it’s especially important because involving our followers and customers in the process has given them something to look forward to and participate in that is out of the norm of their typical day-to-day. What advice can you give to the youth about changing career paths? Vivien Chong: It depends on how drastic your situation is and how much you want it. You have to think and plan properly and sort out your finances. In reality, when you change your career path, you are generally going to start from the bottom with lower pay or maybe even no pay, especially when you are starting your own business. Going out there and making sure of your finances in order to make the transition less painful is really important. If you are not ready to make a full jump right at this moment, then learn to start a side hustle, which can be anything from volunteering with an organization that is in the field you’re interested in, to starting your business part-time on the weekends. It is a free way to get a taste to see if you really love something. Also make sure you have a support system, because it is going to be a tough mental challenge. By Megan Yeow

  • Different ≠ Bad

    Photo by Yasin Yusuf According to Simply Psychology, social norms are unwritten rules or behaviours that are understood and accepted by a particular social group or culture. In order to fit in, people adhere to these norms, while those who defy them are considered ‘ugly’ or socially outcasted for being different. Social norms come in all forms, such as sexual identity, gender identity, behaviour or even the things you are interested in. However, as society progresses, people start to break free from these social norms and instead, just do the things that make them happy. Some people might wonder, “Oh, if it’s just some stupid standards that society wants to uphold us to, why do people care so much about them?” The answer to that is easy: they dislike the feeling of being left out. As you spend time scrolling through social media, you might realise that people who defy these norms are often seen as weird or strange, but all they are doing is just making themselves happy. Firstly, let’s talk about gender identity. Everyone is taught that the ‘normal’ genders are female and male, or the gender that everyone is assigned at birth. However, some people might feel like they do not belong in the body they were born in and seek to transition to a different gender. Transphobia, which refers to a strong prejudice or dislike against transsexual or transgender people, has also existed since long ago. Transgender people have been harassed and hated on as transphobic people deem them to be unnatural. The prejudice towards transgender people comes from those who are unable to accept individuals who identify differently on the gender spectrum. Some transgender celebrities who are thriving in their fields include Safiey Illias, a Malaysian celebrity who has come out as a transgender woman; Jessie Chung, a Sarawakian doctor turned singer; as well as the famous beauty influencer, NikkieTutorials who came out as transgender in January 2020. It is no surprise that the social norm when it comes to sexual orientation is the romantic and sexual attraction between a woman and a man. This ideology has been imparted to everyone since young, for example in movies. If you are someone who grew up watching Disney movies, you may notice a repeating pattern where the princess always finds her one true love, who is the prince. Almost all ‘true love’s tales’ feature love between two opposite genders. Anyone who defies this rule is considered a disgrace to some families, and some parents might even go as far as disowning their children. However, as times change, there are more people coming out as part of the LGBTQ+ community, which is a huge step in normalising being ‘different’. Alextbh, for example, is a queer Malaysian artist who has been making waves in the local music industry and has garnered over 30 million streams on Spotify. Looking a certain way is also something that society upholds a strong standard to. Imagine yourself in a clothing store or even looking through a lingerie catalogue. You look at the models and they all have one thing in common: they all have a body type that almost everybody dreams of having - slim and toned. This has been the standard for decades, and the ideology of slim equals beautiful has been implanted into everyone’s minds since the moment they learnt how to speak. People who do not fit the ideal body type are constantly told that they should lose some weight to be pretty. Having a too large or too small body shape is considered to be unattractive while slim people benefit from privilege in society. How exactly? Well, imagine yourself in a clothing store and you see a skirt that you like and is currently in trend. If you are plus-sized, you scavenge through the clothing racks just to find one in your size but the store might only offer sizes up to L. Plus-sized people deserve to wear cute clothes too, but it is a huge struggle when they are almost never made in their size. Another example is job opportunities. Airlines always have specific requirements when they hire flight attendants; candidates have to be of a certain height and weight, which is usually an unhealthy body standard. This prejudice not only targets women but also men. However, it is a good sign that society is slowly becoming more open-minded to models of different races and body types. Different genders are also expected to behave in a certain way. Have you ever been told “Blue is only for boys, girls should wear pink” or “Boys should never cry, only girls cry”? According to societal norms, girls should only be feminine while boys have to be masculine. This is what we have been told since we were young. In Malaysia, slurs are often used against women who act masculine and men who act feminine, just because they do not behave the way society expects them to. Traditionally, men are expected to be the ones working to provide for their families, while women are expected to be stay-at-home mothers and spend the entirety of their lives taking care of the household chores. Why can’t people have equal roles in the relationship without others judging them? Is being different bad? Absolutely not. Everyone is born as a unique individual and not a carbon copy of each other. Of course, while social norms have been around for millions of years, that does not mean that we should adhere to them no matter what. By daring to be different, we can shift the status quo so that people who exist outside of these norms will start to be seen as normal, rather than weird or different. We also get to express ourselves for who we truly are and pave the way for a more open-minded future. By Loong Leyi

  • The Best PC Survival Games

    Photo by Alex Haney on Unsplash Survival games are the best way to simulate most real-world situations whether it be resource management or surviving out in the middle of the woods. Here are three survival games you should check out! 1. Minecraft If you have not heard of this game before, you might be living under a rock as this is by far the most popular PC video game globally. Minecraft is currently the second best-selling video game of all time, boasting more than 200 million in sales and a player base of around 500 million players. Player punching wood in Minecraft – Picture by Jason Kok Summary Minecraft is a sandbox game that can be played in survival and creative mode. Survival mode is all about progression, where you gather all resources from scratch and craft your way up from there to fend off against the dangers of the night such as zombies and skeletons. You can also build any structure of your liking and kill animals or harvest crops to fill up your health and hunger bar to survive. Then there is Creative mode where you get access to unlimited resources. You have multiple superpowers that make you able to fly and be invincible to almost anything except The Void. Pros The game is very easy to pick up as the game mechanics are straightforward and simple to understand. You can spend long hours playing without worrying as there is no time limit in the game. If you have any questions about the game, you can always visit the threads and guides made by the community on platforms such as Reddit and Minecraft Wiki in order to find useful information about the game. The possibilities are endless as you can explore and build as many structures to your heart’s desire. Besides, you can customise your gaming experience by installing a few mods that can help expand the game’s features. Cons After playing for long periods of time, the game will usually become boring once you run out of things to do since there is not much left to explore after beating the Ender Dragon. While there are mods that can add new features and adventures to the game, they may not run smoothly on every computer and may lag or sometimes crash the game. Although the multiplayer mode features a lot of great servers such as Hypixel that let you play minigames and chat with other players, it is not really a controlled environment and players may fall victim to online bullying or scams. Conclusion Minecraft is a game that not only appeals to children but also players of all ages, because of its blocky cartoony graphics as well as its simplicity and the community around it. It is a well-developed game that lets its players create anything out of building blocks according to their imagination. 2. Raft Many may not know what Raft is about or have never even heard of the game, and this is partly because the game has not been fully launched yet and is still in the early access phase. According to TheGamer, the game increased in popularity tremendously due to famous gaming YouTubers like Jacksepticeye and Corpse. Screenshot of ChiKenR’s Base in Raft – Picture by Jason Kok Summary Raft is a survival game in which you find yourself on a small floating raft surrounded by the ocean. To survive, you not only have to supply yourself with food and water but also defend your raft from the shark that is trying to chew off the foundation. Soon enough, you will see yourself exploring different islands to find and gather resources to further improve and expand your vessel. Pros Considering it is an early access game, Raft provides an extremely great multiplayer experience that is perfect for playing in big groups. With more players, you are able to have bigger manpower to gather more materials in order to expand and construct your raft. A unique aspect of this game is the limitation of freedom, as with other games like Minecraft, too much freedom can get quite boring after a while as you just keep exploring a world that never seems to end. The game mostly focuses on the player’s skill to manage their raft, which is essentially their area to live on. It tests your ability to handle your resources while keeping the shark from chewing away at your foundations. Lastly, it is the storyline that keeps it interesting, as it sort of simulates a real-world situation of what could happen if the water level keeps rising while you are stranded at sea, but with an added interesting and mysterious twist to it. Cons Starting fresh can be difficult as the game requires you to have a decent knowledge of the game in order to survive. As you continue to progress, you will find it more time-consuming to gather the necessary items as they are mostly spread around the island. Another thing to note is how frequently the game gets updated. Since it is not developed by a giant studio, updates can take quite some time to release as the development team only consists of eight people. Conclusion The game offers great features and a story mode that makes the game more exciting to play. When progressing through the storyline, you feel completely immersed in the whole experience, which is what makes survival games so fun. 3. Fortnite: Save The World Most people are familiar with the title Fortnite, as it is one of the most popular battle royale games in the world, but they might not know that it has another game mode which is PvE. Overlooking Storm Shield Base – Picture by Jason Kok Summary Fortnite: Save The World is a co-op game where you and three other players fight against husks and complete different missions to meet the overall objective. It can be played solo but you are encouraged to play with more players as you will have a higher chance of surviving and getting the objective completed efficiently. Pros Just like its battle royale counterpart, you can also build in this version along with placing and using a wide variety of traps and guns to fend off husks when defending your base. As it is a co-op game, you can play with up to three of your friends to have fun and help each other progress. Cons First off, the storyline and missions can be seen as a bit too draggy in the sense that it is just a rinse and repeat process with not many changes to the core gameplay. There is a noticeable lack of regional servers that in turn causes high latency to players who are not in the specific regions, which can cause an unpleasant experience for players. While players receive new content at the end of every week, this may only be useful for players who are constantly playing the game, but those who play the game inconsistently will have to read up on what the content is about. Lastly, upgrading your arsenal will keep on getting harder throughout the game. The higher the level of your gun, the more rare resources you will need to craft it with. This can be tedious as it may take up to a day’s work to farm weapons and traps. Conclusion The game offers the player a lot in terms of freedom to explore and doing interesting missions that can lead to discovering the game’s lore. In terms of gameplay, it can be fun but playing with friends makes the experience more enjoyable. It definitely tests you on multitasking and resource management as you have to defend your base by repairing and adding traps while also keeping tabs on the husks. This basically wraps up everything you need to know about different survival games, so pick any of them that suits your preference and start playing! While we have only covered these few survival games, there are still many out there for you to explore too. By Jason Kok

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