career transitioner/ restarter
Founder, The Chapalang Shop 2
(In her 40's)
Her story (as shared by her nominator)
An avid angler who used to give away her catch to family and friends, Dawn Lim gave up a safe job in regional sales to start a fish stall with her husband, in a bold step to bring the fresh seafood from sea to table. She brought in corporate practices into her business: Being audience-centric, ensuring consistency, and investing in building up their branding. The Chapalang Shop 2 is the only stall at the wet market to vacuum-seal the seafood into portion sizes. "It's so the customers don't have to re-pack everything again into bags before putting them into the freezer. This avoids double handling", she explains. Other than the fish stall, Dawn's usual entrepreneurship journey includes running a home kitchen where she sells seafood items from her own stall, such as curry fish head. She is also hired as a private cook, recently manning a live station where she cooked Fried Hokkien Mee over a charcoal fire. This wonder woman who doesn't stop bustling and hustling, all in the name of supporting her family and breaking new ground -- even impressed a seafood customer so much, he offered her a full-time job, which she is currently holding while running the seafood stall business.
To ensure the freshest catch, this hardcore entrepreneur heads out to catch her own fish monthly, alongside getting them from her suppliers. To give customers the best quality and experience, she introduced corporate practices (see above) eg weighing, labelling and vacuum packing every order in portions, having own chiller bags with their logo, doing live streaming for marketing etc. She is resourceful in finding new ways to leverage on her core business eg with the home kitchen business. And she does all these, while juggling her full-time job as a sales manager in a refuelling and portable toilets business, a rare sight in a male-dominated industry.
Another rarity -- she dropped out of school at Sec 4 but this former delinquent, as she calls herself, pushed herself hard to make something of herself and for her family. She never let her lack of education stand in her way of shining in her job, and even started her own fish stall and home kitchen businesses.
Most importantly, this former single mum to 2 teens (she remarried last year) has a huge heart for the low-income and elderly. She cooks extra food for her home kitchen business so she can distribute them to the residents at the rental flats at Banda Street. She uses the earnings from her home kitchen to fund her charitable efforts and buys food/daily supplies for them. She contributes both money AND hard work despite her very tight schedule, because she says she knows what it feels like to have nothing. (She had to live pay cheque to pay cheque previously, when she was bringing up 2 kids single-handedly. One of them had learning disabilities that required expensive treatment/lessons.) When she meets a lonely or needy elderly who confides in her about their difficulties or sicknesses, she even takes time to pray for them.
In her own words:
The greatest achievement is being able to do relatively well in the industry despite being very amateur in this trade.
Biggest challenge thus far
Being a new kid on the block in this trade, we managed to win the hearts of our customers, friends and family.
what judges say
Stands out in her resilience – from school drop out and single parent to taking on multiple roles, and innovation – vacuum sealing fish in the market