Entrepreneur Julie Anne Kang on leading a purposeful life

Entrepreneur Julie Anne Kang is making conscious efforts towards true fulfilment. —YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

In a time where grandeur often takes centre stage and opulence is almost a given when it comes to special occasions, some choose to mark milestones with celebrations that resonate with simplicity and purpose.

More couples are challenging the “big wedding” norm by scaling back their nuptials, choosing to invite only their nearest and dearest, while opting for sustainable ways to celebrate.

Late last year, entrepreneur Julie Anne Kang tied the knot with project delivery manager Hizwan Hamidy in a series of very low-key ceremonies.

In a refreshing departure from the extravagant affairs that often dominate the wedding scene, Kang, co-founder of the homegrown footwear brand Kulet with partner Aina Syahirah, even skipped out on buying new outfits.

“We did it moderately in comparison to what we might be used to seeing,” says Kang. “In terms of the sustainability aspect, only one item that I wore for my wedding events was new, everything else was something I already had in my cupboard.”

Kang tied the knot with project delivery manager Hizwan Hamidy in a series of very low-key ceremonies. photo: adamtheghostKang tied the knot with project delivery manager Hizwan Hamidy in a series of very low-key ceremonies. photo: adamtheghost

“Usually for the nikah (solemnisation ceremony), people put quite a lot of pressure into getting the perfect outfit, I wore something that I’ve owned before, a piece that was gifted by designer Adila Long from her ready-to-wear for Raya in 2019. I had already worn that piece, to Aina’s wedding.”While looking through her wardrobe for something to wear for her own solemnisation ceremony, it occurred to Kang that she had not had enough opportunities to wear this particular outfit, one that was special to her.

“I felt that it was fancy enough and casual enough as well for how I was going to do it, as I didn’t want to go to Jawi (Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department) in a gown. That was my choice,” she says.

For her Chinese tea ceremony, Kang opted for a cheongsam she had never worn before but which had been hanging in her cupboard from early 2023, and for their simple wedding lunch reception, she donned an 11-year-old sequin top.

“I tried to use as many existing pieces as I could because I didn’t want to buy or have something made that I would never wear again,” she says.

When it came to the guest list, the couple kept it small with only their parents and best friends attending the ceremony.

“My business partner Aina is my best friend, and her husband is my husband’s best friend. There were only nine of us in total, including our photographer,” says Kang.

In a refreshing departure from the usual extravagance of weddings, Kang celebrated her union in a very subdued way. —YAP CHEE HONG/The StarIn a refreshing departure from the usual extravagance of weddings, Kang celebrated her union in a very subdued way. —YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

“In a way it shows that it can be so simple, and still be very meaningful. It can be very sweet but we just removed all the other extras that might cause stress,” says Kang, who added that reducing food waste was another benefit of having small gatherings.

Conscious fashion, with compassion

Since 2016, Kang and Aina have been producing footwear crafted from leather that is not animal derived, as they strongly believe in making cruelty-free products.

Their timeless designs resonate well with the local fashion community, and they’ve enjoyed moderate popularity and stability since they first launched.

“Our approach is not over producing, not constantly having something new in your face. Of course we want to sell things, but we always think, do they really need this, is it really something that’s missing in one’s closet? Because at the end of the day, whenever we want to come up with a new collection we think, ‘did we just do something similar, do they (consumers) already have this?’” says Kang.

“There’s no point of that either, it might push people into over consumption. Our approach is small batches, try to put more thought into what we put out there.”

Running a business with a friend has been pretty smooth-sailing, with Kang attributing this to both founders possessing the same work ethic.

“We are just in sync, and we both know that we want the best for the company, even though there may be things that we don’t agree on. I view it as like with your siblings, you can have hard conversations with them, and you never hold it against them. We do have that bond because we’ve known each other for many years and we’ve seen each other through many milestones in our lives,” she says.

Rediscovering her interests

This year, the newlywed doesn’t have a list of huge goals or work milestones that she is setting for herself.

Instead, she is focusing on finding what truly fulfills her and rediscovering forgotten passions and hobbies.

“When you’re working on your own business, dedicating all your time to it, I came to the realisation in the past few years I don’t know what my hobbies are. There’s so much time dedicated to just being a business, creating content online. I like creating content, but then, does it count as a hobby, when you’re still doing it kind of as a job?” she ponders.

One pursuit she has always had a passion for is Muay Thai, saying that it is an empowering sport, especially for girls.

“I know so many girls who are so good at Muay Thai (Thai boxing), I feel like we need to know how to use our body that way, when we are never really encouraged to discover that too much as people have a tendency to think of it as a ‘rough’ sport,” says Kang, who has participated in state level Muay Thai tournaments.

Another thing that Kang is working on embracing is the idea of “living without chasing”.

“A conversation that I’ve been having a lot recently with my peers is about how we don’t all have to have the same scale of success and maybe 10 years ago, we were probably in a different place where we felt that we should chase a certain level of success, a standard set by someone else,” says Kang.

“After the pandemic, a lot of people really opened their eyes and thought, ‘Am I really happy, even if I get to that point, am I going to feel fulfilled or will I just be an even emptier shell than when I started out?’,” she adds. “It’s really about finding what is fulfilling for myself, without being concerned if it is meeting anyone else’s standard.

In her industry, where most companies will be setting goals for endless growth and expansion, setting higher targets for themselves every year, Kang feels that the true scale of their success is the joy of seeing their products being worn by consumers.

“For Aina and myself, we are very happy focusing on making our personal lives full and having Kulet as supplementary to that. It’s having things we are proud of doing and it’s not just about making money.”

As cliche as it may sound, Kang says, her aim is to rediscover the things that truly make her feel happy, and encouraging other people to be free to do what they want to do, without being influenced by what other people think they should be achieving.

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!

Next In Style

Beyond protection: Why K-beauty sunscreens are the hot product of the moment
Fringe fever: Tassel-like embellishments make for an instant fashion hit
Ask The Expert: Everything you need to know about jewellery
Made for each other: Fashion and beauty talents Emran and Tyra are tying the knot
Malaysian beauty queen Wenanita Angang wants to make a lasting impact
Remembering the 'king of leopard print', fashion designer Roberto Cavalli
New research explores the association of sexual attractiveness and 'good hair'
Welcome the season of denim, cowboy hats and boots! Western style is trending
What is 'doll makeup' and why is this beauty trend so popular?

Others Also Read