Joan Chang’s can-do attitude is infectious

Forever on the move, stylish and articulate Joan Chang, co-founder of minimalist boutique hotel, Lloyd’s Inn at a tender age of 23, is now in the fast-lane with two new creative sojourns. Both of which, are elevated and modern in their own right.

Eight years on, she shows no signs of stopping having launched her projects successively in 2022, all whilst planning Macly Group’s next move for Lloyd’s Inn. We daresay Joan’s spirit of entrepreneurship is boundless.

Her first new project this year, is a fresh take on ladies’ wardrobe staples: Good Addition, plays with seasonal colours alongside carefully selected materials. Next up, is SoupCup. A modern elevation of the beloved fish soup (鱼汤) which is not only MSG-free, utilizes sustainably sourced produce and is also full of collagen goodness.

Popspoken: Congratulations on the launch of SoupCup and Good Addition. What do your businesses hope to bring to the saturated fish soup and wardrobe staple market?

Most businesses we have entered in are saturated – including hotels in Bali (referring to when we started Lloyd’s Inn Bali). That does not stop us from foraying and carving our niche there – instead of doing what the saturated market/existing businesses do, we reinvent something traditional and offer a new, modern experience – for instance when you think of “fish soup” and you visit SoupCup, you realize why it is different from the regular fish soup, not just in taste (oil-free/MSG-free collagen broth), which we have refined over multiple rounds of taste tests, but in the brand experience, store and way it is presented.

It is the same for Good Addition – where we define our own brand direction and designs, instead of looking to what existing brands already do. 

Popspoken: How did you meet influencer, Andrea Chong, and what prompted this partnership? Likewise, for your partners at Soup Cup?

GOOD ADDITION: I met Andrea in 2014 when she stayed at Lloyd’s Inn, we have also done collaborations together over the years.

“It’s refreshing to finally design for my own brand. Having spent almost 10 years wearing, promoting, and even designing for local brands, I feel like it’s time I start something of my own. I do understand what our local and regional consumers want very well.”

Andrea Chong

Designing is her passion, and creating lifestyle brands is mine. So why not come together and do something? So G+A was born.

Soup Cup at Hong Leong Building

SOUPCUP: I met my business partner, Diana Yeo (#fishsoupaddict, who came up with the idea of fish soup / SoupCup) on Instagram. She was just one of my regular followers who happened to DM me on entrepreneurship advice. I met up with her to understand her a little more as she had piqued my curiosity. I approached her to join our company as I could vibe with her work ethic, ambition, and drive for business. Fast forward to today, we are colleagues at work (real estate) as well as business partners. As for our chef partner, Sharon Gonzago (Masterchef Season 1 Finalist), we met in Bali through some mutual friends. She is also our partner for our hotel F&B and runs the kitchen.

Popspoken: Tell us more about how you catalyze creative ideas?

I get inspiration from everywhere – my dreams (literally), travelling, seeing other concepts overseas, or even Instagram and social media. I wouldn’t say I’m a 100% creative, but I love ideas but also have a plan to translate that into systematic execution, and act on it, otherwise ideas stay as ideas. I’m also more of a macro/vision oriented person (I can look at a dilapidated house or a blank paper sheet – but visualize in my head when it’s a thriving brand concept, how it would be), and then with that vision in mind, work on step-by-step execution.

My style is minimalist-classic/simple elegance. I like clean-lines, quality clothing, neutral tones in general, and I’m not a sucker to trends, preferring classic every-day pieces. I don’t follow any style inspirations to be honest, I define my own style.

Joan Chang

Popspoken: Would there be a consistent theme that flows through all your ideas?

Yes. I do not like doing things that are run-of-the-mill. The people I work and choose to partner with – they are all aligned on doing something differently. I realize that the common denominator that runs across all of OVE’s projects are – that we took something traditional and we spun a modern approach to it, as with Lloyd’s Inn and our first spa in Bali.

Popspoken: What was the COVID period like for you and for the Lloyd’s Inn team?

Singapore was OK, but Bali was not good, we had to tide through it and restructure the teams. Staff welfare is important to me, and I’m glad that during the pandemic, for Singapore side, we did not have to reduce wages or remove anyone from the team – in fact we still had bonuses that year.

Lloyd’s Inn Singapore

Popspoken: What was it like growing up as a daughter of a property developer?

I have learnt many things by being in my family business in property development – I’m not a spendthrift and would always invest my money and roll it into real estate to multiply it.

I have also developed an interest in real estate, not just in the property market and its cycles but also in the design element in how I contribute/improve and make things better. My father is a successful businessman and he really deserves a lot more credit – because he is very wise/practical and I’ve learnt a lot from him, but also had a mind of my own to adapt it to my own identity.

Popspoken: Who has influenced your innate drive and motivation to succeed?

I think self motivation comes from within, no one can force it out of you.

I have never lived in the moment and always been observant of people/perspectives around me. I plan things so I don’t have regrets when I reach the stage. When I was in my twenties I observed the people who are in their fifties, always saying things like or “I regretted slogging my life out for money but did not have a life” or living in anticipation when may get cancer/stroke/aging etc and when their time would be up. Because life really truly is short, I’m of the view that we should live it to its fullest – and for me, it is just experiencing everything life has to offer – in work/business (success and failures), in travelling the world to grow and learn, in both the good and the bad, the high times and the lows.

This is my approach, and this is also why I push myself to try everything, I am not afraid of failure. I am not gunning to be a billionaire or to have fame/power, I just want to do what I enjoy and live my life to its fullest. If I am successful while I am at it, then why not?

My ethos is just to jump into the deep end, and then try to float/swim instead of letting the fear of drowning stop me from doing anything.

Popspoken: Are there any upcoming projects in the pipeline for Lloyd’s Inn and what gets you excited about continuing to market Lloyd’s Inn in Singapore?

We will be opening Lloyd’s Inn Kuala Lumpur in 2023. Stay tuned.

Lloyd’s Inn is a brand I have co-founded from scratch and it truly is my baby. The journey the first few years was definitely not easy. I am proud of the brand I have built today and when people tell me they have heard/stayed with us.

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