updated 19 Sep 2013, 09:01
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Wed, May 30, 2012
The New Paper
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She's nothing less than a Tiger wife
by Benita Aw Yeong

Their husbands are successful businessmen, and these women can well afford to enjoy the life of a "tai tai".

But living off their other halves' wealth isn't a notion that appeals to Mrs Cheryl Low (above, left) or Mrs Lynn Yeow-De Vito (above, right).

They have chosen instead to carve out empires of their own in the corporate world.

Like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's new bride, having their own career is key.

Mr Zuckerberg announced his marriage to his longtime-sweetheart Priscilla Chan the day after his popular social networking site's initial public offering last week.

But instead of indulging in her new-found wealth, she is reportedly going to start work as a paediatrician later this year, after graduating from medical school.

Dr Chan, 27, studied biology at Harvard and San Francisco's University of California.

Her passion for sick children encouraged Mr Zuckerberg to add an organ donation registry tool to Facebook, reported Forbes magazine.

Like Dr Chan, the career women we interviewed aren't content to be arm candy either.

Says Mrs Low, 35: "My childhood ambition was to be a career woman. I didn't know what kind then, but I was sure I wanted to get a degree, earn my own keep, and live comfortably."

The mother of three boys, aged 21/2, nine, and 10, is married to the co-owner of local hardware chain Home-Fix, Mr Low Cheong Yew, 45.

Set up in 1993, Home-Fix has 24 stores in Singapore and more in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Mrs Low can clearly afford not to to work, but heading her own enterprise is an adventure she is caught up in.

She owns a business selling home spa and aromatherapy products, and has 10 retail outlets here and one in Kuala Lumpur.

Mrs Low's father left the family when she was a teen, which cemented her resolve to stand on her own two feet, she explains.

She has also resisted joining her husband's business, which he co-owns with his brother.

"When I agreed to marry him, I set some terms and conditions. One was that I was not going to be a housewife, and the other, that I was not going to join the family business," she says with a chuckle.

With a start-up capital of $200,000 - a portion of which came from her husband, she does admit - MrsLow set out to establish her business 41/2 years ago.

She now splits her day between managing her 70 employees and playing chauffeur and teacher to her sons.

It may be tiring (she sometimes goes to bed at 5am), but the prospect of staying home is one she can't fathom.

Being a full-time mother, as respectable as it is, isn't a role she's cut out for, says this straight-talking lady.

"I once took a two-month break from work between jobs. And it was terrible. I just found myself getting duller by the day. The mundane routine scares me," she jokes.

"I like to be on the move, I enjoy interacting with people and I love creating unique products and ideas."

Director of Ate Consulting, Mrs Lynn Yeow-De Vito, is also drawn to the "different kind of adrenaline" in the corporate world.

Three years ago, she merged her own communications firm with Ate, which handles strategic relationship and communications for companies.

Her husband is successful restaurateur Beppe de Vito, 40, who owns several restaurants here and in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The couple tied the knot about three years ago. They have an eight-year-old boy from Mr de Vito's first marriage and another boy, two, together.

In about three months, they will welcome their third child.

Mrs Yeow-De Vito acknowledges that her husband would be supportive if she chose to become a full-time mother, but that lifestyle is not for her.

"The financial independence is something I enjoy. If I want to buy a bag, I won't have to think twice when I use my own money," she says candidly.

Juggling the role of mother and career-woman seems to be a breeze for this fresh-faced mother.

"I pretty much manage my own time and I don't have to go into the office every day...

"In the evenings, I'm definitely at home with the kids, and weekends are family time," she says.

But for Mrs Low, couple time is scarce and precious.

"We try to meet for lunch every day, and for that hour or two, we don't talk about work,"she says.

"Having your own business is like having another baby. When you work for people, there is a point you turn off. But now, for me, it's like 24/7."

Still, the satisfaction she gets makes the sacrifices worth it.

She says: "When I hear that people buy not just one candle burner we designed but several in order to form a collection, it's really so fulfilling.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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