We had a conversation with the owner of The Home Odyssey, Vivienne Shen, on her plans, perspectives on women independence & on this year’s IWD theme #choosetochallenge
Tell us more about yourself and your background.
I’m Vivienne. I was brought up in China and I moved to Singapore for education and this is where we (my husband and I, and our Corgi Emma) call home now. I’m a full-time commodity trader and I run my interior blog @thehomeodyssey on the side.
How was the year 2020 for you? How was it like getting a new house and moving in the middle of the pandemic when there are so many rules to follow for renovations?
No doubt 2020 has been a challenging year and has been a weird year. We used to travel almost every month and suddenly, we are stuck in a tiny city (and for quite a while we were stuck in a tiny apartment). Luckily the design and renovation of the shophouse has kept me busy, despite that the lockdown and a shortage of manpower stretched the supposedly four-month renovation into almost a year. But the best things are worth the wait.
What are some of your plans for 2021?
Take a trip! I hope that we will be able to travel this year, at least once. We’ve booked a ticket to Europe this summer and fingers crossed! I’m also building my website “The Home Odyssey”. So far, my visual stories and design journey have only been shared on Instagram, but I want to be able to create more content to provide a sourcebook for beautiful living.
How would you describe your personal dressing style, compared to your interior design styles?
Both my dressing style and interior style have been constantly evolving. I get inspired and influenced by the places I travel to, the books I read, the movies I watch, and I always try to mix the elements I like together. However, there is one thing in common - I’m always drawn to natural material, be it for my clothes or for my furniture.
How is it like being a female trader, in a male-dominated industry? Is there anything harder to achieve because of gender issues?
Being one of the only few females in a male dominated environment has always been an advantage instead of disadvantage for me. There’s more you can bring onto the table when you come from a different perspective. I’m fortunate enough to be working in an environment where women are respected and treated equally. If you are not, speak up or do something about it. There’s no reason to tolerate it.
How important do you think it is for women to be independent?
I personally think it’s very important for women to be financially independent at least. It simply means your life is always in your own control.
What makes you start @thehomeodyssey and where did your love for interior design grow from?
I started @thehomeodyssey three years ago to share the design journey of my first home and I wanted to share my experience putting together a well-designed, personal and cosy home without being a designer. I’ve just completed the makeover of my second home now, a conservation shophouse, and I’m so happy whenever people message me and tell me that they are inspired by what I did with the house.
I think my love for interior design came from my mum. She always puts a lot of thought and effort into making every corner of our house cosy, and she loves collecting decorative objects wherever she travels. That hobby has passed on to me now.
With a full-time job and your passion for interior designing, how do you juggle your time?
Luckily my trading job uses more of my left brain and design occupies more of my right brain. I very much enjoy both because they are almost balancing each other. When it comes to time management, i always set priorities so that i don’t get overwhelmed.
There are always many expectations for women, what do you think makes a successful woman? And how do you manage those expectations working in an unconventional industry for women?
Society tends to define women’s success by benchmarking them to men. A woman is not successful because she stands out among men. A woman is successful simply if she has great contribution in her area, whatever it is.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that people don’t know.
I was a math Olympiad player between the age 10 to 16. I was a total geek.
This year’s campaign theme for International Women’s Day is #choosetochallenge, what are you choosing to challenge this year?
I’m challenging myself to take The Home Odyssey to the next level and start curating in the design and home decor area as I always wanted to do.
If you look back and were to give feedback to your younger self, what would it be?
Never be afraid.
Vivienne wears our Frilled Sleeve Toga in Black, High Waisted Wide Legged Trousers w Foldlines in Light Sand | Toga Gingham Maxi Dress | Cotton Blend Tiered Maxi Dress in Black | Gingham Maxi Dress in Fern