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Vivy Yusof says her memoir isn't a tell-all book to bash people – but to learn from past mistakes

Last month at the National Library of Singapore, Vivy did not hold back as she shared snippets from her book.

Fashion stalwart Vivy Yusof needs no introduction but here is one anyway: She is a law graduate from the London School of Economics; co-founder of the modest fashion brands The dUCk Group and LILIT; a wife and a mother to four kids; and now a book author. Is there anything Vivy Yusof can’t do?

Vivy's love for writing saw her launching a fashion blog, to which she expanded that ambition into a multi-label fashion marketplace called FashionValet in 2010 with her then-boyfriend, now husband. Facing difficult obstacles, the blogger-turned-entrepreneur rejigged the marketplace into homegrown labels The dUCk Group and LILIT, with outlets in Malaysia and Singapore.

Last month, I received an invitation from the publishing group Penguin Random House to interview Vivy at the National Library of Singapore, for the launch of her memoir, The First Decade. As a book author, I know it can be very challenging to sit down and put pen to paper – furthermore, Vivy is balancing different roles under her belt.

The first-time book author was in good spirits when we met, and with close to a hundred of her fans in the hall soaking in her nuggets of wisdom and life advice, Vivy did not hold back as she shared snippets from her book.

(L to R): The writer with Vivy Yusof and the publisher of Penguin Random House, Nora Nazerene. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore; Vivy Yusof Instagram)
(L to R): The writer with Vivy Yusof and the publisher of Penguin Random House, Nora Nazerene. (PHOTO: Reta Lee/Yahoo Life Singapore; Vivy Yusof Instagram)

You talk about both success and failure in your book. Why is it important for you to share these aspects as an entrepreneur and was it painful to write about it?

Vivy: I wanted the book to be as honest as possible and it's very difficult to do that without bearing it all – including names and the party involved. I had to be careful about how I worded it and spin it to a positive light at the end because this wasn't a tell-all book to bash people – it was really learning the lessons as painful as they were.

I'm pretty open and I speak quite freely about my journey, but maybe not on social media. I guess, when you go through some episodes in your life, you kind of want to move on, especially if they're like really painful, such as things you don't want to remember, or stupid things that you did. So this book really got it out of me as it was just me facing my past and it was almost therapeutic to do that.

Amazingly, you were never alone on this journey. Your husband's there with you. He's your close confidant. How do you both maintain that level of professionalism?

There's no line? (laughs) I don't know if any of you want to work with your spouse. It's really tough. You know, first of all, I wouldn't recommend it, because you're both together in it. And it's all so risky because you put all your eggs in one basket, right? So it's really hard to draw a line like say, for me, honestly, there isn't a line.

We always have this off-site, just the two of us, every year. So in the off-site, we talk about boundaries; how we're going to work together; how to make the marriage work better; and how to be better parents. The line does really get blurred. We have to create some boundaries that work for the couple. For me, I have this rule where if we are arguing, we cannot drag it out for too long as it doesn't only affect our kids, but it also affects our team. And the company cannot possibly run on its own when both the husband and wife are fighting.

From the outside, we see the glamorous world of fashion, but it can get catty and dramatic. How do you stay true to yourself and uphold your values?

Oh, that's a tough one. I think there's a lot of cattiness that will probably come from competition, right? Everybody wants to be the best, and everybody wants to have the bigger pie but they still want to support each other as well. So there are a lot of mixed feelings. In the fashion world, when it's full of creative people, they can get highly emotional and passionate. That's why, for me, I tend to not really mix business with friendship. I have a close group of girlfriends who are not in the industry and they are my ride or die.

Sometimes when you're too deep in your business or in your project, you can't see mistakes or some red flags. Your friends who have your best interests and who are not in the industry, tell you like it is because they have no attachments or biases.

Let's talk about motherhood. You know, how has motherhood changed for you after the birth of your fourth child?

I think motherhood has made me more resilient. Being a mum is like, so much harder. Because if you're not well, I can postpone a meeting, no problem. But if you're not well at home, and your kids are asking, 'read this book to me,' – I can't postpone that. And you just have to go on; I never really knew I had that strength! I love my kids so much even though they drive me mad (laughs).

S$18.68 at Amazon Singapore RM138.28 at Bookdepository

The First Decade: My Journey from Blogger to Entrepreneur. (PHOTO: Amazon Singapore)
The First Decade: My Journey from Blogger to Entrepreneur. (PHOTO: Amazon Singapore)
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