Life after graduation - what does that look like for you? For many of us, this question draws a blank. You might have questions about what kind of job you would like to have after schooling, or what kind of dreams you want to achieve in the future. And while it is great to look ahead, plan for the future and have big dreams, the pressure behind all these can start to take over and you'll soon find yourself trying frantically to improve your portfolio. This urge to keep up with the joneses leads many people to blindly taking up multiple internships, projects and courses so that they can boost their portfolio and land a secure and good paying job, the path to a comfortable life. But at the same time we often ask ourselves - are we happy?
And while finding satisfaction and joy in our jobs is important, when the issue of money comes in, things can start to change. Economic stability is a real concern and it is not wrong to worry about it, but as Yoyo Zheng, the founder of Good Totes - one of the most popular local brands on Tik Tok - shares with us, you shouldn’t be afraid of taking the first step towards doing something you love. She believes that the best time to experiment and try out new things is when you’re young, and that it is okay to take the path less travelled. Join us as we get to know more about Yoyo and her journey towards starting Good Totes!
Tell us more about yourself, Yoyo!
Hi I’m Yoyo, the founder of Good Totes! Coming from a marketing and graphic design background, I am a creative at heart and I love making my visions come to life. I feel the happiest when I’m eating mala hotpot, hiking, or watching cat videos! My biggest dream is to raise two cats, two dogs, and a flock of ducks one day.
I actually graduated from NUS last year in 2020, during the height of the pandemic. I hopped between jobs for around a year before I decided to quit cold turkey and focus on launching my small business.
Starting a business right after graduation is a pretty brave move! Why did you decide to take the leap and start Good Totes instead of pursuing a 9-5 job?
To be frank, when I was in between jobs last year, I thought that there was something wrong with me. My friends all seemed to settle down so well in their jobs and yet I was struggling to find any joy at work. Even though I loved my company and colleagues, I couldn’t help but feel extremely jaded in my roles. I had a serious condition of Monday Blues until one day, the thought of starting something I really like came to my mind.
I was absolutely terrified of quitting my 9-5 in the beginning. I was so scared that my business would suck up all my money and I’d end up on the streets. But in hindsight, there was actually not much to be afraid of. What was the worst thing that could have happened? Since I am still young, I can afford to fail. And even if my business doesn't work out, I can always find another job.
I actually didn’t tell many people about my business in the beginning because I didn’t want any external pressure. I told my parents about Good Totes only when I had results to show them, and to say that they were surprised is an understatement. I was never the outspoken or entrepreneurial type, and they totally didn’t expect me to take on such a risky venture. I thought that they’d ask me to return to a stable 9-5 job but they actually encouraged me to focus on Good Totes instead. And for that, I’m so grateful!
What sets Good Totes apart from the rest?
Totes with pretty designs are everywhere, but most of them are flimsy or don't come with pockets. The straps would often snap and I constantly had to replace them. On the other hand, googling “cute functional tote bags” only returned results of utilitarian designs that simply didn’t match my Pinterest aesthetic. So I knew that there was a gap in the market and decided to start Good Totes!
In short, Good Totes make tote bags that are both functional and good looking! They’ll last you for years, and you will no longer have to rummage through the depths of your tote just to find your keys or chapstick.
You are one of the most popular Singapore businesses on Tik Tok, with 70k followers and almost a million likes! How did that happen?
Thank you so much! I don’t think many people know about this, but I have my own YouTube channel so content creation and editing videos come pretty naturally to me. I also spend way too much time on TikTok *guilty laughter*, so I have a general idea of what goes viral.
Perhaps the main reason why I was able to grow my following is because there are many people just like me - who couldn’t find tote bags there were equal parts functional and Pinterest-worthy.
I also think that when it comes to going viral on TikTok, luck plays a role. The algorithm can be very unpredictable so I’d suggest pushing out as much content as possible, and just wait for one of them to blow up!
Now that it has been a few months since you started Good Totes, what are some things you wished you had done better / knew when you first started out?
I definitely wish I had asked for more help in the beginning. During my first two launches, I was the only one creating content, answering customer enquiries, and packing orders. Besides the occasional help I got from my boyfriend and best friend, Good Totes was basically a one-woman show.
After my second launch, I actually didn’t sleep for two nights straight because I was rushing orders and wanted my customers to receive their orders as soon as possible. I was so burnt out that I didn’t even want to think about the business for the next few days haha! I’ve since hired a freelance customer service agent and part-time packers, and it has helped to free up my mind to work on more important aspects of the business.
If you didn't start Good Totes, what would you be doing?
I would still be doing something creative, perhaps a social media manager or content producer?
Any advice for those who are graduating or just graduated from university?
As young graduates, we feel this immense pressure to immediately know what we want to do, or to settle down quickly in a well-paying job at an MNC. I wish to tell fresh graduates that it’s okay to feel lost, and it’s okay if you haven’t found your dream job. Stop scrolling through LinkedIn and comparing yourself with peers who seem to have it all. It’s okay to take things at your own pace because finding your path is a gradual process. Only through trial and error can you discover your passion.
I feel that we are often discouraged from hopping between jobs as it will “ruin” our resume. I have a different viewpoint - as cheesy as it sounds, we are only young once and this is the only period where we’ll have little to no responsibilities. If you’re content with your job, that’s great! But if you’re unhappy, this is the prime time for us to go out there, fail, and get better at whatever we want to do. Many of us often choose unhappiness over uncertainty.
I remember chatting with my ex-boss and he gave me this piece of advice that struck a chord with me: In your 20s, optimise for experience, not money. When you gain enough experience and become really good at something, money will naturally follow.
Always dreamt of starting that online business? Just take the first step! Want to start baking on the side to make some spare cash? Just try! Want to quit your well-paying government job and join a startup? Now or never!
Which is your favourite Rooki product, now that you've tried our Superfood Starter Kit?
I am a skincare junkie and I was so happy when Hayley reached out to me! My favourite Rooki product is a close tie between the Honey Matcha Cleansing Drops and Green Pulp Paste Masque! I love how the cleanser cleans my skin without drying it out. I’m also very picky with my masks and the Green Pulp Paste Masque is absolutely life-changing - it gives instant results and leaves my skin feeling baby-smooth. It also reduces the texture and bumpiness on my skin, and I’m already planning to buy a few backups!
What should we look out for in the coming months with regards to Good Totes?
Well, all I can say is… stay tuned for our Christmas collection! It’s going to be a fun time, with new designs, new products, and gift boxes!
And lastly, we couldn't end this off without asking...what's in your tote bag?
I tend to carry a lot of things with me wherever I go! I usually have my Kindle, 1 litre water bottle, umbrella, lipsticks, perfume, keys, eyedrops, notebook, pens… and more in my tote!