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Food Glorious Food

 

Sasha Conlan, CEO The Barbie Girls

I am Sasha Conlan, Founder and CEO of The Barbie Girls based in Singapore, but first and foremost, I’m a mum who has a huge passion for good quality food and what I feed my family. I founded The Barbie Girls in October 2011 after I was disappointed with the quality of meat and seafood in Singapore. If I managed to find meat/seafood that tasted good, I had no idea what was in it and where it was from. I began a journey of sourcing and importing premium quality, ethically sourced and fully traceable meat and seafood, and delivering it directly to customers in Singapore.

I was a lawyer…

Originally from the North East of England, I practiced as a lawyer for 12 years before taking time off to look after my young family. I moved to Singapore, along with my husband and children, in 2008.

Understanding where the produce comes from and how it has been farmed is essential for me. Even though I don’t like spending time away from my children, my passion and drive to find good quality food is what spurs me to travel to Australia, New Zealand and Europe in search of new suppliers. I visit new farms and organisations as often as possible, experiencing their sustainable techniques first-hand, and sampling produce. I only commit to the farm or organisation as a supplier for The Barbie Girls when I am completely satisfied that they care about their animals/fish, their environment, the purity of the produce and the food supply chain across the globe.

From BBQ to Barbie

The Barbie Girls” name was the idea of my children who quickly saw a link between me being a girl and some of my products, such as sausages and burgers, being for BBQs!

Initially I sourced, packed and delivered the products once a week in my car, now deliveries are made Monday to Saturday throughout Singapore in our custom-fitted cool trucks.

Sasha Conlan driving the truck

The business has rapidly evolved over the last four years and The Barbie Girls has matured into a purveyor of fine foods providing an extensive, and growing range, of top quality fresh and frozen meat and seafood. Our best sellers include our free-range pork from a family-run farm in Essex, UK, and our grass-fed beef from the East Coast of Australia. I recently introduced a line of delicious oak-smoked fish products, direct from a family-run smokehouse on the shores of Loch Etive in Scotland, which is selling very well, especially as these products are hard to get hold of in Singapore.

Setting up a business in Singapore

Setting up and managing a business in Singapore is relatively painless. The Singapore Government is fully supportive of entrepreneurial activity even from expatriates. There are challenges to importing meat and seafood into the country, one being that our pork from the UK has to be brought in frozen, the authorities will not allow it to be imported fresh. However, this is easily worked around to ensure we are still able to offer our customers the best quality products available.

The biggest advantage of running my own business is that I am able to choose the hours I work so I can still spend quality time with my children. It is essential to me that I am able to pick them up from school after their sporting activities and sit with them whilst they have their dinner to talk about their days. Work is of great importance to me, but my family will always come first.

My family and I love living in Singapore

We love the Asian culture and cuisine, so life here is easy. I am also lucky that I have the flexibility with my job so I can spend quality time with my children. This is a big advantage of being an entrepreneurial expat. If I could do it all again, I don’t think I would do anything differently. Setting up my business has been a big learning curve but I think the mistakes and challenges I have made have actually made me stronger.

My top tips

If I could give advice to others thinking of setting up a business in a foreign country I would say go with your passion. If it is something you believe in then go for it. My passion for finding top quality food is still my driver in my business. Also, networking. This is essential to a successful business. I have found many of my suppliers via people I know and have met along my food journey in establishing The Barbie Girls.

I am so grateful to have this opportunity to be able to spread the word about eating top quality meat and seafood.

Logo The Barbie Girls

www.thebarbiegirls.com

www.facebook.com/thebarbiegirlssingapore

https://twitter.com/1thebarbiegirls

https://www.pinterest.com/thebarbiegirls/

https://instagram.com/tbgsing

Shy and Successful

Adele de Caso

I am Adele de Caso and I am currently living in Spain with my family: my husband Jaime and my children Sofia 15, Phoebe 12 and Javier 7.

We have lived here on and off for the past 10 years, but are currently enjoying one of our longer stints. 

Adele de Caso's family

Why Spain?

Jaime is half Spanish, and the reason we decided we wanted to spend time in Spain was that we wanted our children to grow up bilingual. Jaime never had the opportunity to learn when he was a child.

As we first spent time in Spain when our girls were very small, they both are now fluent in Spanish (I wish I could say the same for us…) and our little boy is part way there.

Why my own business?

Becoming fed up with my job in a hospital laboratory following graduation from university, led me to becoming involved in a network marketing company.  Both me and my husband ran this business part time alongside our jobs until our income from the business was sufficient for us both to leave work.  This was fantastic as it meant more quality time with our children.  As well as the income and the flexibility of the business, one of the major benefits to me was the self development that I gained. The business introduced me to books, audios and also trainings that helped me to grow as a person and gain confidence, as growing up I had always been very shy.

The flexibility of the business has made it possible for us to move between Spain and the UK.

Shy people can be successful too

When we first moved to Spain I decided to pursue something that I had always dreamed of, which was to write a book.  Our children were at school from 9 until 5 every day so I used some of this time to get started on my first book: Shy People Can Be Successful Too!  which was published in 2009.  It is a compilation of everything I learnt that helped me to deal with my shyness.  I learnt to embrace it instead of seeing it as a flaw.

Shyness is a strength to build on

I have now written my second book 52 Tips For A Fantastic Year! – Simple Ideas Big Impact.

I really enjoy helping people to achieve success in their lives, especially people who don’t feel that they have the confidence to do it. If I can do it, anyone can.

I love the fact that I can run both of my businesses from Spain. I talk to people on the phone about the network marketing business and help them get started, and I help people through my website, blog, books and newsletters on the personal development side of becoming successful.  I sell my books through my online shop which also stocks framed quotes and plaques, another one of my passions.

Adele de Caso quotes

Business hours around the children’s schedules

Running a business here also means that I have to be really organised because the children finish school at 2pm so nothing can really get done after this time at least not until the evening.

I do use the time when they are doing their activities to sit and get things done: I will either read personal development books, part write blog posts or call some people in these small pockets of time. It is something I have always done, used the ‘nooks and crannies’ of the day.

I feel more inspired to write when I am in Spain

Almost every morning after dropping off at school, Jaime and I go for a brisk walk along the promenade with our dog and then stop somewhere for breakfast.  Starting the day in this way is fantastic and gets the creative juices flowing.  There are also so many beautiful places to sit and work. Something I love to do is to take photographs of the beautiful scenery.  I then use them in my blog posts and social media.

Breakfast with a view

Whilst living in Spain I have invested in online courses and seminars, as I feel that it is important to be continually learning. Dealing with different time zones and internet hiccups have helped me to learn to look for ways around things rather than seeing them as reasons why we can’t do something.

Something that has helped me a lot is being a part of Facebook groups where other like minded people hang out.  You can share ideas and receive advice – it’s a win-win situation. And you can do this from anywhere in the world.

I have also trained myself to focus on the present moment. I am actually taking the time to enjoy where I am and appreciate it. Even if it is just 10 minutes per day to start with, just sit on a bench somewhere and watch the world go by around you. Really allow yourself to switch off and immerse yourself in the moment. I have found this exercise to be extremely productive, rather like a form of meditation.

My vision for the future is to help more and more people to be successful by creating a course for shy people to study in the comfort of their own homes.  I am currently working on this,  so watch this space!

For more information and to purchase my books, visit my website at www.adeledecaso.com

My books are also available on Kindle;

Shy People Can Be Successful Too! http://amzn.to/1KjG4Mj

52 Tips For A Fantastic Year! http://amzn.to/1EZJ7xl

You can also like my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/adeledecaso

Adele de Caso

It’s all his fault

Just a little over 5 years ago I moved from Paris to Shanghai. With Nicolas. Because of Nicolas.

I had very mixed feelings

Excitement at staring a new adventure, but at the same time scared as I was in China for goodness sake – so a mixture of fear and enthusiasm, as I was leaving a corporate career of 14 years in a multi-national company that had provided me with great opportunities, but had never really made me feel fulfilled.

I was starting a new journey.

Being me, I had made sure that before I left Paris, I had all of my ducks lined up work-wise. I was changing career paths, which was really thrilling and things had sort of fallen into place (or so I thought – more of that another time), so I would have something to start on part-time as soon as I was more settled.

It all made sense

But before getting to this stage I had really struggled to make the decision and take that leap.

When Nicolas first told me he had this job offer, I was extremely proud and happy for him. But I had assumed I would just be able to get a job transfer as well. Which did not happen. And it made me scared.

No security net, no financial independence. Depending on someone else?

NO WAY!!!

I was not one of ‘those women’. I could not even think of that.

Looking back it almost makes me wince about how many twisted judgmental thoughts made up my beliefs. And how that is extremely powerful and can make us stay stuck, paralysed and unable to see a way out.

I needed to go through that painful process to free things up, and let go of the heavy weight of those beliefs that were not helping me at all.

Nicolas was a rock. He helped me see things differently. He made me feel safe. He told me to look at this as an opportunity to really do something I loved.

That was my turning point

It was so liberating. It changed everything.

Suddenly, although it was scary I felt free. I could do anything I wanted to. No pressure.

The ‘blame game’

Because of all this, I have never played the ‘blame game’ – the ‘I am sacrificing it all because of you and your career’.

The ‘blame game’ usually shows itself when we are stressed.

When your basic needs aren’t met – and there are a lot of them when you move abroad – you feel vulnerable, you have a huge sense of loss of identity, you feel hopeless at getting simple things done because you don’t know the ropes. So you blame it on ‘him’. After all, if it weren’t for him and his career, you wouldn’t be going through this.

So instead of playing the blame game or saying it’s all his fault, play another one: ‘the opportunity game’: I have the opportunity to live in a different country and I have the time to do all those things I never have time for ‘back home’.

Like:

  • learning a new language
  • taking up a hobby
  • doing volunteer work
  • learning a new skill
  • starting a business
  • travelling
  • spending quality time with my family and being a domestic goddess
  • meeting new
  • exploring the surroundings of where you are living
  • being a social butterfly

Or whatever tickles your fancy. There is no right or wrong.

It’s all about me

For those of you who know me, I really prefer not to be centre stage, but the day after we got back from holiday I was interviewed by the lovely Dominika Miernik.

We talked about the transitions I have been through in the past few years and how I got to where I am today, doing what I do.

Brazil - China - Paris - Tot

Brazil – China – Paris – Tot

If you would like to listen to it and get to know all about me and my story, here is the link:  http://bit.ly/EEinterview

I hope you enjoy it and would love to hear your feedback below.

Catarina x