by Alexandra Nicole Nuralam

Ong Bee Yan: “Age does not define me.”

“I push myself to get out of my comfort zone, challenging myself to do new things and never letting age define me.”

Ong Bee Yan first caught our attention when she modelled a collection for local fashion brand Storeunda. The 65-year-old, who prefers to be known as Yan, is the co-founder of 1degreeC, a grandmother of two and now, a part-time model.

“In 2016, together with my husband Richard we founded 1degreeC, an online store that produces cold brew coffee and cold tea,” says Yan. “Both my husband and I frequent cafes as I love to drink coffee—both traditional kopitiam kopi O and cafe latte.”

Aside from her work at 1degreeC, Yan also keeps busy with social media and her other passions, showing us that we are never too old to learn. “My hobbies include recycling and upcycling old or discarded furniture pieces to give them a new lease on life. I am also constantly working on social media content, editing and posting pictures, et cetera—something that I am learning daily.”

We chat with Yan in her home as she talks about starting a business in her silver years, finding purpose in one’s old age and how she is taking care of her skin.

What are three things people should know about you?

My favourite dish is eggs. I am an animal lover and despite my modelling, I’m actually an introvert!

How has your career evolved over the years? How did you get into starting 1degreeC?

Before setting up 1degreeC, I was a full-time housewife for about 15 years. 1degreeC started as a result of my husband’s retrenchment. At the age of 53, he was not ready to go into retirement so we decided to produce and sell cold brew coffee online. We discovered that cold brew coffee is a millennial drink but it was only available in cafes at that time and not everyone goes to cafes. I wanted coffee lovers like me to have access to their “fix” any time, any day and anywhere. Since cold brew coffee can be bottled and refrigerated, they can get their drinks delivered to their doorstep. So we set up an online store since it was the obvious choice and we wanted to minimise overhead costs and reach out to the masses.

Do you have any advice for people who want to start their own businesses in their silver years but are afraid to do so?

Do your research on the product or service that you want to go into. You must be involved in the business and know your product. Set aside your retirement money. Only use the amount that you have allocated for the business and go for it.

If the business doesn’t go as planned, know that you have tried. You will definitely have learnt something from the experience. Failure is not defeat. Defeat is when you fail to do.

What’s your approach when it comes to beauty and wellness?

“Beauty is transient and changes with time.”

Aishwarya Rai

It is inevitable to have wrinkles, eye bags, sagging skin and grey hair as you age. But it does not mean that you should stop looking after your physical and mental well-being. It is important to be healthy, eat right and exercise regularly. Have a skincare routine to maintain and moisturise your skin. Be happy, content, grateful and faithful.

You have such good skin! How do you take care of it?

If you look closer or when I smile, you will see all the wrinkles (laughs). But I try to maintain my skin with my skincare routine—cleansing, toning, moisturising and massaging. In between my coffee fix in the morning and afternoon, I drink lots of water. Eating lots of greens, exercise and sleep are important to me too.

What is your most important beauty rule?

Avoid oily and fried food. They are unhealthy for your skin and body.

Yan’s Beauty Picks
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Sun Defense For Face SPF 50, SGD47
Tunemakers Moisture Water Lotion, SGD41.90
Tunemakers CoEnzyme Q10, SGD24.90
Tunemakers Egg Shell Membrane, SGD84.90
Tunemakers Collagen, SGD24.90
Tunemakers Retinol, SGD31.90

What is the most important piece of advice you have ever received to date?

I don’t remember any advice I have received lately. But being an introvert, I push myself to get out of my comfort zone, challenging myself to do new things and never letting age define me.

What are your plans for the year ahead? 

As long as my husband and I are still able and passionate about what we are doing, we will continue running 1degreeC. Currently, we are repurposing the coffee grounds and tea waste into exfoliators and scrubs. I actually use the coffee scrub to exfoliate my heels! I hope to expand and develop into other by-products with these waste materials too.

My dream is to empower other women to get out of their comfort zone and try new things through my social media platform. I’m also hoping to collaborate with a partner, to have a clothing line for seniors and to develop an organic blue tint hair dye for silver hair.