In May of 2014, Michelle McFarlane turned her concept of creating a supportive business platform for ladies into her main hustle when she launched the Business Women Network (BWNASIA). Catered to offering members assistance and ideas to women who are keen on setting up a business in Singapore, this network group is all about supporting women in business every step of the way.
Since then, the company has transitioned from small monthly meetings to a big-name brand housing over 2000 members, offering everything from collaborations to collective brainstorming, alongside gained friendships.
We caught up with Michelle to talk about her journey, the challenges her company faced, her personal beauty habits and more…
Beauty Insider: Give us a brief insight into Business Women Network. How did this journey begin for you?
Michelle: When I moved to Singapore in 2011, I was among many other women either starting or looking for a home business opportunity or up-scaling a current business. After attending a few network groups, it came apparent that there were many ladies in Singapore like me looking for opportunities, friendships and trying to make the most living overseas. This gave me the inspiration to start a group for women to share ideas, learn more about different cultures, celebrate and embrace business growth and create a supportive network with a platform to showcase product, services and learn from each other. BWNASIA has now been operating since 2014 and constantly growing.
Beauty Insider: What is the biggest challenge your company faces when creating networking spaces?
Michelle: Network spaces are a lot more available these days for many small business owners and entrepreneurs. My main challenge is finding meeting rooms for 40 – 50 pax. We have been very fortunate to have AAM Advisory supporting BWNASIA for several years now to hold our monthly meetings in their boardroom. However, workshops and events can be more challenging.
Beauty Insider: What is the best thing about your job?
Michelle: I absolutely love seeing women who are so passionate about what they do, succeed. I thoroughly enjoy helping and supporting people who are willing to do the hard work and achieve things they didn’t think they can. Bringing a community together from all cultures who support each other and grow as a community is what I just love about this job.
Beauty Insider: What advice would you give to women who are actively pursuing a career/starting a brand, yet, receiving a lack of support from the industry or those around them?
Michelle: I truly believe you need to find at least one person, a network, mentor/s, or that you can rely on, support you and talk to you about any frustration whatever industry. We hold brainstorming sessions for this very reason. Working on your own can be challenging and isolating, so finding a network or person to work with can be a real lifesaver.
Beauty Insider: What is your opinion of a “woman entrepreneur” in today’s context?
Michelle: Woman entrepreneur, in my opinion, is a woman who is fearless, confident, strong and not afraid to work for what she believes in. Being an entrepreneur has its challenges however if you have the passion and the drive you can achieve what you put your mind to.
Beauty Insider: Being a busy modern woman, you organise many networking events. How do you balance your skincare routine?
Michelle: Most days I wear makeup so it’s important to me that I cleanse and moisturize twice a day, I also use a mask and exfoliate when I can, however, as I get older I feel my skin could do with more so hoping to get more tips from Beauty Insider on that.
Beauty Insider: Could you recommend us makeup tips for someone presenting at the networking event?
Michelle: When it comes to make-up I love the more natural, neutral colours and to keep it simple, no need for heavy makeup to attention needs to be on you and what you are presenting not on your makeup. Avoid touching your face to keep your makeup looking fresh and not smudge. If you are attending a networking event after work I would pack at least a few items in a small makeup bag ie press powder, mascara, and lipstick to freshen up.
Beauty Insider: What’s one bad beauty habit you can’t shake?
Michelle: One thing I forget to do is check the expire date on skincare and make-up. Normally many products are 6-12months after opening and know I have products over that.
Beauty Insider: What’s next for Business Women Network?
Michelle: BWNASIA Team are working on expanding to provide more services for our members and continue to help women in a business start and expand in their business. We are open to collaborating with other networks globally to support women in Business.
We are also working on new projects at the moment especially designed for women entrepreneurs. Our BWNASIA Magazine is continuing to grow featuring many women working in Asia so you will always see new stories, business tips, and much more for working mums and their families.
To learn more about BWNASIA, click here.