WHETHER IT MIGHT BE SHARING AN OFFICE OR EMBARKING ON JOINT TRAVELS, OUR FOUNDER AND HIS FATHER WILL ALWAYS FIND A WAY TO PUSH BOUNDARIES FOR THE PURPOSE OF DISCOVERING RENEWED PERSPECTIVES: AN ALCHEMY OF DISPARATE NOVELTIES NECESSITATED BY OCCUPYING EVERY DAY TOGETHER.
The unbreakable bond of the father-and-son duo comes apparent in their daily musings -- it’s not just work that binds them, but genuine sentiments -- that combine the intimacy of sharing either’s breakfast to the punctilious vying for partners in Sweden. But, it’s not a reality that chooses perfection; rather, an artful way of discerning the best in imperfection.
Now 30, Gnome & Bow’s founder, Quanda Ong, sets out on a global venture in a home-strewn office while his dad, Patrick Ong sits adjacent, lording over an auxiliary business for the most advanced fire-suppressant systems.
The both of you are always on great terms. How do you manage unifying work while maintaining family ties?
Quanda: Heaps of time and communication were the cornerstone to understanding each other’s working style, which eventually allowed us to manage ourselves and the other better. I should believe this is an attribute most critical to every aspect of any partnership, and not just limited to businesses alone. Acting on this precept, my dad’s role in Gnome & Bow is of an advisor while I ultimately handle every execution. And as for crossing work with kinship, we never let either get in the way -- on the contrary, we are conditioned to use each aspect to strengthen our bonds in the other.
Patrick: It’s quite the job! Right now, we are co-managing the brand and I’m hoping he matures quicker and get into learning all aspects of running this business and taking it independently. Although his long list of virtues do good for the business, he still has a lot to learn in terms of time management and task priority. But we still make do and manage.
As for intermingling of work and family, we consciously avoid discussing work during personal times -- because, you know, it’s anyone’s guess what bad situations could possibly pan out.
Being family in the same business breeds certain comfort. Were you ever compelled to give up in the midst of adversity?
Quanda: I never intended for my dad to be my cushion of of comfort. In fact, he constantly inspires and motivates me, sometimes to prove to him that I can do it and that my decision was right.
Patrick: Gnome & Bow is his dream and baby. When he first decided to plunge into this business after quitting his banking job, I knew for sure I was in every place and position to back him up wholeheartedly, even if it meant shelling out financial support.
In which incidentally resulted in our sharing the same office, but it turned out to be one of my better decisions, because this means we get to spend more time together and bettering our communal relations. From spending time together setting up manufacturing lines to sourcing for trustworthy distributors, I spared no effort in helping him -- but that’s because he’s my son, and he trusts me enough to help him.
Upon releasing Book I, all that went into selling his creations were of no small efforts. Problems would always come in the presence of inexperience, and with Gnome & Bow being his first business, there were many unforeseen troubles that cost us a lot of time and money. It was collectively an affair of late nights and crunch times every day. Of course, this meant many moments of great anxiety that put him on the verge of giving up, and I would always remind him that his mother and I hadn’t raised a quitter.
Folks are always shifting their preferences. Do you consciously apply that knowledge to your Gnome & Bow designs or to firmly stand by your aesthetics?
Quanda: It’s definitely a combination of both. Interacting with customers and finding out what meets their needs is key, however, maintaining our brand identity and aesthetics is also equally important. We make sure we do to remain relevant and competitive.
Patrick: (laughs) Myself, I am out of his aesthetic range and abstain from interfering with his design notions. After all his collections are for folks of his age and refined tastes.
How would you describe Gnome & Bow in three words, and in your own?
Quanda: Unique, creative and revolutionary
Gnome & Bow is the perfect alchemy of my greatest two passions, which are bags and storytelling. It brings more than just a business, it is a collection of stories that tell the monumental aspects of my life.
Patrick: Still in infancy. There is much more nursing required for it to grow, and definitely one step at a time. Slowly but surely, but I am sure he will definitely get there.
You’re often portrayed as a humanitarian. Which human values would you say matter the most to you and why?
Quanda: I hold dearly onto the binary mantras of passion and perseverance. Passion because i believe it is the vigour of life and fuel for the soul. Nothing beats the feeling of waking up daily and doing what you love and taking steps to make your dream a reality. Perseverance because it is what separates those who are in it for the long run and to make a difference and those who are in a business just for the money.
Patrick: I am a firm believer in integrity, which encompasses other cardinal values such as humility and kindness. It is this very principle that puts people on track and aligned with their true intentions.
Fashion-makers are always on the verge of fun, so what is your idea of it?
Quanda: I’m a firm advocate of having fun while at work. The intrinsic laxness of fun breaks the rigidity at work to bring out the creative elements at work. We are not law-makers or financial bureaus, so rigid structures are to me a detrimental thing more than a framework we can follow.
Patrick: Moderation. If tempered well, the balance of things can bring both satisfaction and urges, which I believe is most responsible for people to desire and be oriented.
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