Melissa and Mike Yap: “Remember to take time to breathe”

It’s all about perseverance. Even when you think that it will never happen, just hold out and everything will come together as it was meant to. When we lost our head designer, we came close to giving up. But we persevered and out of nowhere, we were blessed to find the perfect fit. Our new […]

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It’s all about perseverance. Even when you think that it will never happen, just hold out and everything will come together as it was meant to. When we lost our head designer, we came close to giving up. But we persevered and out of nowhere, we were blessed to find the perfect fit. Our new designer has gone above and beyond what we were looking for.

Ihad the pleasure of interviewing Melissa and Mike Yap, founders of Scarflings. Based in Vancouver, this sister-brother duo brought their experiences together in 2019 to found their luxury eCommerce brand — an online store devoted to their favorite accessory, the scarf.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

With a background in technology, Mike entered the world of eCommerce in 2016 and generated over 30m dollars in sales over two years through his various online stores. Before that, he launched a #1 health and fitness app in 2013 called ZenAwake, which had over 200,000 users. Currently, he sits as an angel investor to several million-dollar companies in the drone, app, crypto, and VR spaces, and is also the founder of the wellbeing startup Conscious.

Melissa has always loved scarves. Her love affair for them started at a very young age when her mother’s collection of vividly colored blanket scarves became her first inspirations — and they continue to be a staple in her wardrobe to this day. She has a background in running a successful eCommerce business and when the opportunity came about to start a new business with her brother, her passion for scarves made them the perfect offering.

Can you share your story of grit and success? First, can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

We faced two difficult issues very early on in the Scarflings journey. First, we lost our head creative designer just after we launched, and had to spend a lot of time interviewing and testing out new designers and illustrators just as the brand was gathering momentum.

From the beginning, we were committed to finding a sustainable packaging supplier, but this turned out to be more difficult than we thought. Again, it was trial and error. We spent time talking to the right advisors who told us the right questions to ask suppliers before even developing products with them.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

The drive came from knowing that we had an amazing brand. Our goals go beyond having a thriving business. With any business, and in life in general, the journey is never truly over. Ups and downs are a natural part of life. Having experienced many good times as well as hard times, we knew that good times are always on the horizon.

So, how are things going today? How did grit lead to your eventual success?

It’s all about perseverance. Even when you think that it will never happen, just hold out and everything will come together as it was meant to. When we lost our head designer, we came close to giving up. But we persevered and out of nowhere, we were blessed to find the perfect fit. Our new designer has gone above and beyond what we were looking for.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake we have made to date has to do with a luxury line of Christian scarves we are developing. We will preface by saying how important proofreading is when it comes to any copy we send out to publications and anything we release on our websites and social media. The same meticulous attention to detail should also be paid to design work as well. Basically we were so wowed by the design of a scarf celebrating the Virgin Mary, that we did not notice she had an extra finger on her right hand until the first round of samples had been completed. It was definitely not a cheap mistake — and besides, we definitely don’t want to fuel any conspiracy theories! So now every design has to pass more sets of eyes and each set of eyes is tuned to spot such errors.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

It’s the details that make our scarf designs stand out. Our designers and illustrators spend a lot of time working on the concepts, and we pay just as much attention to the packaging too because we want the whole experience to feel luxurious. We are also working on the launch of some luxury lines, and you’ll see that these are much more detailed than anything currently on the market.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Take care of your health. It can be challenging as an entrepreneur because you are your own boss. It’s necessary to take regular breaks, We recommend standing up, stretching, and going for a short walk every one to two hours. A regular meditation and/or breathwork practice helps too. Cold showers to refresh the mind and body. And always make sure you get adequate water and sleep to keep you fueled.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

We are so blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing family members, friends, and mentors, so there is no one person we can attribute our success to. If anything we are most thankful for each other. The best part of being in business with your sibling is that you always have someone there who will tell you the hard truth — whether you want to hear it or not. Luckily in our case, with that hard truth also comes unconditional love and forgiveness. There isn’t really one particular story that jumps to mind. Most days we bounce hundreds of ideas off each other, and when we do disagree we generally ask one of our superstar consultants for advice.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

It’s not truly possible to say you have brought goodness to the world in a single statement. It is an ongoing process that hopefully continues until the day you pass from this world.

But one thing we have set up on our site is a program that lets you make a donation whenever you buy a scarf, at no additional cost. The charities change throughout the year. Sometimes there are multiple charities that customers can choose from so that they can donate to a cause that speaks to them. At the moment we are donating 5 percent of every sale to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which helps the WHO detect, prevent, and respond to the coronavirus.

We have also put sustainable practices in place wherever we can. For example, we source our materials ethically and choose the most eco-friendly printing techniques for our scarves.

In an ideal world, we would be doing more and giving more. As the company grows, the goal is to do exactly that.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

I wish that someone had told me:

  1. How much work it actually takes to run a company. There are so many little things you have to think about when creating a product and brand from scratch. It’s fairly easy to say “Let’s create a scarf company,” but there are so many things that did not initially come to mind. For example, there are the day-to-day tasks of designing garment labels and deciding where to place them on the scarves. It takes a ridiculous amount of time to get it right when you are going back and forth with the manufacturers.
  2. Remember to take time to breathe. When we hurt ourselves or got frustrated as children, we were always told to breathe. The same holds true for business. If you do not take time to breathe and clear your mind you will burn out.
  3. Know that it is OK to ask for help and to delegate. There is no way one person, or in our case two people, can do everything — and nor should you. There are so many superstars out there in the world who are geniuses in their respective fields. Finding the right people to help you build a thriving business will help ease the burden of your own workload. As an entrepreneur, it is all too easy to get stuck in the mindset that only you are going to do the best job at everything because you care the most. But this is most definitely not the case. Would you drill and fill your own cavities like a dentist or perform your own appendectomy surgery? No, because you are not trained and you don’t have those skills. The same applies when it comes to running a business.
  4. Set time aside for friends and family. This piece of advice goes hand in hand with breathing and how much work it takes to run a company. It is quite easy to get sucked into working nonstop from sunup to past sundown. It is important to set time aside to spend with loved ones. It gives your mind a break so that you are able to come back fresh to every task you work on. Breaks are key to productivity.
  5. It is OK to pivot. When we first started this company we had a vision of creating a strictly super high-end luxury company. We soon realized that there was a very large market for mid-to-higher priced items alongside these. It made sense to incorporate a slightly more affordable range. Everyone wants a little piece of luxury and there are other companies using this same model of offering both super luxury and slightly more affordable options.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

So many thoughts come to mind! But we’d like to start a movement to breathe and harness your consciousness. If more people took more time out of the day to stop and breathe and reflect, we would be less stressed and anxious as a society. Especially with all the insanity with all the recent world events…

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram — @scarflings.brand

Facebook —

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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