Taking up the family business is not unheard of in Asian society and culture, and Lam Huili’s vocabulary included spectacles and opticians from an early age. James, her father, began the business with a humble stand in front of a shop at 642 North Beach Road with just a display case and a few frames. Huili, on the other hand, had no intention of joining the family business. She left her job to return to Singapore Polytechnic and complete a 3-year Diploma in Optometry in order to assist her parents. Her father, James, was also suffering from health concerns at the time, and he passed away in September 2021.
Her dedication and strength to fill in her father’s shoes after his passing truly inspired us. In this week’s Glitz Spotlight, we spoke to Lam Huili to get to know more about her journey taking over the family business. Read on to find out all about it!
Interview with Lam Huili
Who is Lam Huili?
Hi! I’m 28 going on 29, an optometrist by trade working in my father’s optical shop that he set up in 1976 at the age of 22. My job involves testing eyes and tailoring optical solutions according to individual needs.
How did you decide to join the family business?
I kind of fell into it due to a mixture of timing and opportunity in the form of a surprise placement in the course.
As someone who studied marketing, what are some challenges that you faced when entering into the family business?
It’s been challenging trying to find a balance between introducing change and retaining what works in the business. While marketing taught me the importance of aesthetics and branding, I’ve realised it is more crucial to back it up with skill and technical expertise.
How do you apply what you studied to your role at Kwong Shin Optical?
The technical skills I picked up are directly relevant to the eye examinations we do everyday. I’m grateful for the grounds to continue refining these skills on a daily basis.
We offer our deep condolences to you and your family for your father’s passing, it must have been hard to have lost such a huge part of your lives. What was the biggest lesson you learned from him?
Thank you! My father was very hardworking and dedicated to his business. He was never complacent and was always looking for ways to grow and improve. His spirit of learning and passion will always be an inspiration to me.
In your role at Kwong Shin Optical, how do you honour your father through your work?
For me, it’s about giving the same level of care and sincerity to our customers just as he strived to do for decades.
What was the best part of working with your father?
Just getting to spend time with him and seeing his passion for the business and his customers was very meaningful to me.
Now working by your mother’s side, what do you enjoy most about it and what are some challenges you face when working with family? How does she influence your work?
Perks include being able to see her daily now that I have moved out. It’s also less intimidating to approach and ask her for help when your mum also happens to be your boss. She is very meticulous with a huge warm personality that I can only hope to emulate.
What in your opinion, sets Kwong Shin Optical apart from others in the industry?
Our people are the true assets of the company, together with the relationship/friendship we share and cultivate with our customers.
Kwong Shin Optical integrates the latest cutting edge eye-care technology into your treatments. Could you elaborate more regarding these technologies and how it has helped the company excel?
We are equipped with machines that help us with eye health assessments and screen for eye conditions such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, providing our customers with more than a straightforward eye test.
Where do you see Kwong Shin Optical heading in the next 5 years?
Working towards becoming a more efficient and relevant business grounded by technical expertise and service with a personal touch.
As a second gen optometrist, what is one advice you can offer in regards to eyecare?
We spend hours each day looking at screens, even the young and elderly are not exempt these days. Remember to give your eyes a break and visit an optometrist every 1-2 years at the minimum, to ensure your eyes are well cared for.
What is your advice for those who are looking to get into business, build, and manage their own company?
I am only at the beginning of this journey but I am continually motivated by my father’s perseverance and diligence, and by taking pride in what I do.