“Don’t be surprised if you have to send 100 emails everyday to only get 2 replies” – Daphnie Loong, Creative Director at Tofu Design
How was your University time + did you seek this industry?
I studied Interior Design in college and because I wanted to find a profession that melded the freedom of art and solved problems at the same time. However, somewhere during my 5th semester (1 short of my final semester), I decided that it wasn’t for me. I no longer enjoyed what I was doing and I was certain of 2 things at that point: 1. I wanted to write – I felt I had a more keen interest in that vs. ID; 2. I wanted a more nomadic lifestyle.
So, I dropped out of college and went on to pursue writing while working at my family’s business at that time. This was a pivotal moment in my life because it meant I had a larger responsibility to prove to myself and to others that I was going to be okay despite not having a certificate. I think it pushed and pressured me to ensure I had some success in whatever I pursued.
I started out as a freelance writer for online blogs and magazines – working for free and for peanuts for a bit. The work was not meaningful but I was happy because I got to tick off 2 of my job criteria (writing and nomadic lifestyle). I wrote listicles and reviews for a long time before finding myself in a place where I was truly satisfied and felt “successful”. After probably 3-4 years, I started dabbling my foot in copywriting – the next challenge beyond blog posts because the market started becoming saturated and you can’t tell good writing from regurgitated SEO anymore. My first proper gig as a copywriter was under a small local startup, writing Facebook captions, ads, etc. I did that for a while before finding the confidence to hone my craft traditionally at a global ad agency. I cold-emailed them and somehow got myself a job as a Regional Copywriter.
Bear in mind: I have no prior education in copywriting, mass communication, etc. This is all just through my years of experience.
After working at the ad agency, I wanted to revert to my previous nomadic lifestyle – free and open to move at my own pace. I left the agency and went back into startups again. This time, I went in as a Lead Copywriter for a 100% remote SaaS company which Daniel also joined as a designer. I believe at this point, the idea of starting something together began brewing.
We didn’t seek out the design/UI/UX industry on purpose – it was just how things moved naturally. A copywriter and a designer always worked closely together so it made sense to us to do something about it. We wanted to create our own designs vs. helping just 1 company refine theirs. We felt we had more to offer and thus, that’s how we ended up starting Tofu Design.
What was your first job or nuggets from jobs you had that helped you to get to where you are today?
One of the main things I learnt from my past jobs is clear communication. It is vital to be able to empathize with whomever you are speaking to and asking yourself if what you’ve said is clear – does it have room for misunderstanding, etc. So many people still can’t communicate effectively and I feel this has been key to my work ethics now.
How did you prepare for an interview?
Research the role you’ve been asked to interview for/applied to, research the company, prepare 3 questions to ask your interviewer, don’t be afraid to talk about money, and be confident – trust in your abilities and value.
Books that helped you?
As a human being: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown;
as a designer/Creative Director: The Story Brand and The Brand Gap.
Things are changing very fast in the industry; how do you keep yourself updated. Please list techniques or newsletter, podcasts, events etc.
Follow people with similar interests or inspires you on Instagram and YouTube, be observant and sensitive to change, recognize patterns, follow publications like The Dieline, UI/UX content on Medium, etc. I don’t have singular sources, I just look around a lot.
What can you recommend on CV?
If you ask me, a CV is not important to me if I’m hiring someone. Their portfolio and character matters most. I don’t buy into the things people write on CVs because it never truly reflects the person for who they are. But if you need an advice, it would be to sound as similar as you truly are. I don’t know how that’s going to work but a sense of genuinity is important.
Advice for someone looking for job?
Understand what you are actually looking for – is it the pay? Is it the challenge? Is it the lifestyle? Once you understand that, then look for companies who can meet those requirements and email them even if they have no opening. Also, don’t be surprised if you have to send 100 emails everyday to only get 2 replies.
Why do you think you were selected among other candidates?
Based on my past, one of my employers said they chose me because of my LinkedIn profile write-up. He said it caught his eye. And from what I can observe, I was very candid. I told things as it is – no fluffy nonsense like “I am a hard worker and responsible”. I gave them supporting ideas to what makes me me and who I am as a person.
It’s important to remember that people look for people they can connect with – your awesome qualities are great but we want to know who you are as a person. People can grow and change and if someone is hard working but not adaptable, I would always choose someone adaptable vs. deadpan.
Lessons from jobs that you couldn’t get.
Lack of experience in the field I suppose.