Grace Clapham – founder of Agent Grace & Secret {W} Business

Born in Indonesia to Australian and Indonesian parents, Grace was raised for most of her life in Singapore. She has had the privilege of living in Indonesia, Ecuador, Australia and the US before returning back to Singapore nearly 4 years ago.

Grace is the Co-Founder of Secret {W} Business – an organisation for aspiring and current women entrepreneurs launched in June 2012, Power Organiser SheSays Singapore – an award winning global organisation running free mentorship and events for women in marketing and creative businesses in over 19 cities, Co-organiser of CreativeMornings Singapore – the first chapter in Asia, where they hold free monthly breakfast lecture series for creative entrepreneurs and professionals in over 33 cities worldwide – there’s one in Melbourne too!.  Grace is also Co-Organiser and Lead Curator of TEDxSingapore Women 2012 and a prior co-curator of TEDxSingapore Women in 2010.

…try and do a business that further enables collaboration amongst one another rather than against each other.”

Grace is also the Director and Founder of Agent Grace, where she consults and works with Australian businesses, startups and SME’s on brand management, marketing/public relations and business strategy.  She currently sits on the Advisory Board for Social Media Week Singapore 2013.  Grace hopes to encourage more cross-sector collaborations and build better cross-cultural understanding across the APAC region. She is passionate about empowering individuals to push their boundaries, build their own personal brand, strengthen personal relationships for success and unleash their creative potential.

Grace brings with her insights and connections from living across various countries to startups and SME’s within the region and those wishing to expand into other neighbouring countries.

Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen? 

I had always known I would work for myself eventually and after 4 years of working at Gorman in Melbourne I decided to take the plunge and do something on my own and it so happened that an old friend of mine Artika Sulaiman was looking at starting her own businesses, so we partnered up and began on our first venture, Sloane Elizabeth Robertson, a secret society for shopaholics.  We brought in cult brands from Europe and the US into Singapore at a discounted price at private sale events. At the same time Agent Grace was born (late 2009) and we began wholesaling Australian brands into South East Asia and began consulting, marketing and PR for some Australian businesses entering into the market.

After a few years I decided I wanted to help build the creative economy and entrepreneurship within the region and met two amazing individuals Daylon Soh and Renyung Ho and we decided to bring CreativeMornings to Singapore.  From launching Agent Grace in 2009 I felt I was missing a support group or community of women who were in similar positions to me, trying to build and grow a business.  This made me decide to reach out to other women that I had met to see if they would be interested in starting a small group for women entrepreneurs who were either starting out or interested in starting a business of any size and across a variety of sectors. There was a gap in the market for a free network to help support aspiring and current women entrepreneurs and in June 2012 I launched Secret {W} Business with Camille Schu (co-founder).  Secret {W} Business is a network that has now grown with a strong following and is expanding to other cities in 2013.  Our aim is to connect aspiring and current women entrepreneurs to resources, mentors and one another to help make ideas happen.

Secret {W} Business is bridging the gap between cities and connecting women entrepreneurs in a globalised world to share tips, tools and resources whilst supporting each other along the journey and building a community.

How do you make money?

At the moment my main source of income is coming from Agent Grace where I consult.  I also lecture in a variety of subjects and hold workshops.  We’re working on building a variety of sources of revenue for our network.

What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?

I’m currently working on a few larger events to bridge the gap between APAC countries in the both the creative and social entrepreneurship sector.  I’m also currently working with my sister and her business partner on – their newly launched site. Nature’s Dispensary is based in Melbourne, Australia and is a business offering online health supplies as well as naturopathic consultations and services.

How do you make an ideas happen?

I usually put everything down on paper in the form of a mind map, then use the business model canvas.”

I’m very much a connector and mobilizer. One of my strengths is in connecting the dots between businesses and individuals across cities to better enable collaboration and change the way we work together. I usually put everything down on paper in the form of a mind map, then use the business model canvas.  From there I put everything into my new favourite tool Asana, capturing all the tasks that need to be done in order to make a project or event happen.  Creating a routine is important and being able to get one or two days with no meetings allows me to do the tasks on hand although the start of this year has been filled with meetings.

What does your typical day look like? 

My typical weekday recently has been a lot of meetings and project management as we start the new year. I wake up, usually have my morning coffee, whilst reading my Feedly, then on to checking my social media pages as I manage a few, scheduling a few posts for the week then on to my emails around 11am.  Its off to meetings from there and then to my tasks on hand as I work better in the late afternoons till later in the evening when there is less distractions and I can be more focused.

I’m currently based out of The Hub in Singapore and when I’m back in Melbourne am based out of our house where I have a study area to focus and get things moving.

What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?

…people are still wary of sharing their ideas or talking about their ideas making it difficult to share information and resources…”

Getting back into the market in Australia after being a way for a few years I’ve found it difficult to connect with other women entrepreneurs who are in the startup phase. I also find that people are still wary of sharing their ideas or talking about their ideas making it difficult to share information and resources and they are less open to collaboration to help build their businesses.

What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?

A shared economy is better than what we’ve had in the past. So try and do a business that further enables collaboration amongst one another rather than against each other.

What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment? 

Pozible is doing great things for Australia but also the Asia Pacific region and bridging this gap I’m talking about.

What about Internationally?

Learnemy –  connects you with instructors for either private or group lessons in a variety of fields within Singapore.

What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?

We can all do our part in society and every little bit counts so every business should look at some sort of CSR.”

Businesses  can affect social change on many levels from leadership to innovation as they are influential to the masses they reach out to and can help to change the perceptions people have as well as actions. We can all do our part in society and every little bit counts so every business should look at some sort of CSR.

Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers?

Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter?

Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?

Yes, we’re looking for a couple more Secret {W} Business Ambassadors in Sydney and Melbourne in particular as we launch later this year. We’re also keen to look for any users to test out and provide us with feedback.

Our readers are smart, creative, talented and good looking. Here’s your chance to ask them anything.

What do you think could be made different from networking organisations? In what ways can networking or organisations help to connect members and engage members for maximum benefit?

What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?

I’m a big fan of Batch in St Kilda east for my coffee and their amazing fetta avocado mash.

We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?

Absolutely…I’d be happy to offer to review someones marketing plan and strategy!

Make sure you sign-up to join our amazing community for Australians making ideas happen.

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