Armed with a cat carrier, Sherlyn Tan arrives at the coffee shop we’re supposed to meet and instead of taking the seat in front of me, she walks straight to the corner where a stray cat is lounging – it’s a heavily pregnant mama and she’s almost ready to deliver.
“Someone ‘tagged’ me on Instagram in a photo posted by this cafe. They were looking for someone to help this pregnant stray cat,” says Sherlyn, her lips curling. Suddenly, it dawns on me: An hour ago, I received a text message from her asking to meet at a different place, instead of the one we’d agreed on earlier. Now I see why. Her eyes fill with affection for the cat at first sight. “I fell in love with her immediately,” she smiles. But then she sighs, “The problem is, how do I house the cat and her kittens? My house is already full of pets.”
“I’m A Fake-out Of Myself”
The founder of the well-loved fashion label, Twenty3, Sherlyn was once very actively involved in the local fashion scene; she’d even brought her brand name to the Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week (KLFW). Taking her online business offline, she had even expanded her business by launching brick-and-mortar stores within the country and eventually to Australia. “Business was peaking, but I had to call a halt,” she discloses.
Sherlyn reveals that she tends to have feelings of low self-esteem because of childhood experiences, so being promoted thrice within a year-and-a-half at her job gave her a major confidence boost. With much faith, she left her stable job to pursue her dream to become a singer, but the journey was far from pleasant for her. There were times when she didn’t get paid after a gig and at other times people would run away with her earnings.
Being away from home, the persistent young Sherlyn didn’t spend time crying over spilt milk. She ventured into running an online business selling secondhand clothes, and it grew beyond her expectations. Seeing the opportunity, she quickly turned her business into a fashion label and the revenue doubled within seven months. Her sharp business acumen and astute understanding of her customers’ needs garnered her recognition from the industry. Even the world-renowned fashion designer, Jimmy Choo, came on board as a brand consultant. Everything seemed to be smooth-sailing until her mental wellbeing began to suffer.
“I had low self-esteem and my business was like a mask, a fake-out of myself. Having to be present at social events and meeting people was exhausting for me. I decided to return home to Malaysia from Australia to seek medical help. The doctor advised getting a pet to take the edge off my feelings of distress. Soon after, I adopted my first pet dog, Popiah, when I returned to Australia,” she reminisces, showing a great fondness for her dog with a wide smile.
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