What's the toughest part of your career, and how does this empower your personal growth?
Melissa: I think it has to be the hecticness of our job that people don’t get. Our days are filled to the brim, all the way from 8am in the morning and it can be like shoots and meetings and events. By the end of the day, when we finally have the time to get down to reading emails and replying messages, it can be really late at night and that’s when we really have no energy left. Almost every night, we’ll be at the computer struggling to stay awake! Waking up the next morning is also really difficult for us (laughs) but throughout the day it gets really busy so that kinda drives us, leaving us with no time to sit down and feel tired. We are always on the go and sometimes we even forget to take our lunch! We also work 7 days a week, so even Saturdays and Sundays are work days, be it events or meetings. There’s hardly ever a break. We haven’t had the chance to go on a holiday where there’s no work projects involved. Whenever we are overseas, it’s always for photoshoots and work or ads.
James: For me, there has been plenty of personal growth ever since I started working with Mel. In the past, I used to work for large MNCs, and I felt like I was just filling out a role, as opposed to helping my fiance run a business., I used to feel like I was able to handle everything, and I would rarely delegate work or ask for help. But now, due to the sheer workload that we’ve experienced, I’ve learnt that sometimes delegating or asking someone for help is actually the best way to go about completing a task. I’ve learnt to set aside my pride and to look at the bigger picture in order to get the optimal outcome, rather than just wanting to prove myself. I guess I speak for the both of us to say that we’ve learnt to adapt to different styles of work for the betterment of different situations.
"I've learnt to be more flexible and to be less narrow-minded, and to be more open to doing things differently."
How do you support each other through the challenges?
James: I think being with Mel and working with her has helped me discover a different side of myself that I have suppressed in the past. I’ve always looked at myself as a very technical and numbers-inclined person and throughout school and growing up my dad has laid out the possibilities of my future - either a doctor, lawyer or accountant sort of job. So since I was young, my mindset was moulded into that, however on the sidelines I loved to look at pictures and draw. I also love music but I never explored these avenues. I joined the science stream even though I actually enjoyed writing and subsequently even though I had wanted to study an arts major, eventually I took accountancy in university purely because it was the deemed as "the most practical route to take". Since working with Mel, although I still do her accounts (laughs), there’s so many aspects that I’m pushed to explore. Photography for one, has been a huge part of what I’ve been doing over the past two years working with Mel and I love it. If I had not started dating Mel or working with her, I would not have discovered this part of myself. One of the quotes that Mel lives by and has taught me is: ‘Everyone is infinite.’ As a person and in life, we tend to be put in boxes, but there are actually endless possibilities to what you can achieve as long as you put your mind to it. I used to be overly practical in my thinking and dared not to try new things, but Mel has taught me that the sky’s the limit.
Melissa: On the other hand, for me, because I have that mindset that the sky’s the limit, James keeps me grounded. He tells me like ‘I know you wanna do everything from A to Z and you wanna take on everything. But you need to be realistic and just do what you can manage and do them well.
James: I guess what I’ve taught Mel is that sometimes you cannot achieve everything. Even if you want to achieve everything, you should get help with that because it’s not always possible to do everything yourself.
What do you think is your greatest strength as a couple?
Melissa and James: Our greatest strength would definitely be how we support each other's goals and dreams, and how we make up for what each of us is lacking.
"We help each other to grow, both in love and work."
Is there anything you wish people understood better about you, both individually, and as a couple?
James: We are actually real people with real problems. I think what everyone sees on Instagram is just one side to the coin and I think everyone looks at our pictures and say we’re "goals: and everything but we do have our weaknesses and flaws. Some people may think that that’s an ‘ugly side’ but we feel that that’s our authentic side beyond the posts that you see.
"Mel has taught me that the sky's the limit."
- James Chen
What are your goals for the next 3-5-10 years?
Melissa: Personal goals would be to empower more people because I find a lot of joy in doing that. It could be through my work; for example, to empower my intern, I give her certain responsibilities to help her find out what she’s good at, and what she likes. I would want to give people opportunities. It could even be my mum, helping her with finding a retirement job or creating a side project that she can take on.
James: It’s our business goal to be able to employ both our mums in future, after they retire from their current jobs. Mel’s mum is the head of operations of a bank and my mum’s a nurse. My mum likes fashion and Mel’s mum has her own artistic side as well. Mel’s mum loves the excel spreadsheet and even now she’s asking me if I need help with accounting and finances. Both our mums are really enthusiastic with helping out with the business.
Melissa: For goals as a couple, it would probably apply to when we start a family in the future. Family time is extremely important to us so we hope to be able to have the luxury of spending quality time with our children and really building a family together.
As Melissa and James prepare to become #mrandmrsbabschen this week (yay!) we’re imagining the best and dreamiest wedding looks for this glowing bride-to-be!
It’s that one special day, and the bride must be adorned with all the things that make her feel most special and beautiful; the dress, the perfect pairing of jewellery, and the trademark bridal smile - the winning combination of the best glow any of us can hope for, and any groom would swoon over.
Earlier in our series, we featured photos from our of #MelissaCKohXChooYilin styled wedding shoot. Melissa chose the dreamy sweetheart neckline dress from Jessica Cindy, and paired it with our effortlessly elegant South Sea Pearl Necklace with Diamond Peranakan Clasp, to really allow light to frame her face, and add a delicate radiance to her complexion.
With her hair done in a contemporary up-do by The Make Up Room, the Choo Yilin Peranakan Lace Pearl earrings add the perfect finishing touch - nothing catches light quite like an exquisite set of pearls.
The Choo Yilin Pearl Bar is a three-day exclusive event that takes Pearl Jewellery one step further: your very own selected strand from the highest quality pearls, paired with your choice of an iconic Choo Yilin clasp, specially crafted by our artisans to create a look completely customised to mark your most special occasions.