Turning plants into creative interior decorative items isn’t easy. You’ve got to know your air plants from your aquatic plants, and know how to choose moss and rocks that will enhance their appeal. Serious hobbyists are extremely creative and are able to transform a plain tank or bowl into magical landscapes that defy your imagination. One such person is Samson Chong, the man behind Aquatics Forevers.
What inspired you to start your own business?
Opportunity. I started as a hobbyist for 5 years before slowly turning it into home-based business. When I started it was not easy. There were many road blocks until someone gave me an opportunity that inspired me to move forward, and guided me until I became who I am today. Family support is always the key driver in starting a business. Of course, we also need to have passion in our work and keep following our dreams.
How long have you been aquascaping? And how did you expand to terrariums and air plants?
I have being aquascaping for around 5 years. I come across terrariums in 2014 when I was doing some research on how to make a simple D.I.Y product. I found that it really suited my company’s concept such as it also involves scraping design, plants and the same low maintenance principles. Eventually air plants were introduced to me by a friend. At first I picked it up as a hobby, to try to understand them before adding it to the company’s portfolio. Air plants also require very low maintenance and need minimum care. It’s important to me that every new product must be evaluated before being introduced into the company, so that clients will be more comfortable and confident that we will be able to solve their problems.
Can someone request for a custom design from you?
Yes. I have a redemption program in place for air plants. I also do custom made designs for terrariums.
Why do you think it is important to bring your business online?
Being online, I’ll be able to reach more clients and the most interesting part is that big ticket businesses and inquiries are obtained through my online channels.
You have recently set up a stall at Occupy Beach Street and also a few weekend markets. Which do you think is most effective platform for reaching your target audience – online (marketplace, Facebook) or offline (weekend market, retail shop)?
Both platforms are effective because the main thing is to listen to the customers directly. At weekend markets and retail shops, you will be able to hear directly from the end customer, of what they think of your product first hand. Whereas online, the customer is more focused on a specific item he is looking for.
What excites you most about being the owner of AquaticsForevers?
Turning my hobby into my baby, AquaticsForevers! So far so good as we are achieving our yearly targets (gold). Will work harder to achieve more in the coming years.
What do you consider the most challenging aspect about running your own business? How do you manage between your business partners and also different type of products?
The most challenging part is time management. Planning and execution is something I need to learn and brush up on.
Would you recommend others to follow your path? What do you think are the 3 key characteristics a person needs to be an entrepreneur?
In my opinion you need:
- Support from family and friends
- The commitment to follow your dreams
Tell us something surprising about yourself or your business.
The most surprising part about the business is meeting different people every day and hearing their stories. There’s always something to learn.
What do you love most about Malaysia?
What’s your favourite Malaysian food?
Char kuey teow
And lastly, if you could pick any celebrity home for a collaborative aquascaping or terrarium project, who would you pick and why?
I would like to pick Takashi Amano but unfortunately he passed away last year. I’m still very impressed by his work though — on aquascaping and creating his own brand. It’s a reminder that I still have a lot to learn and improve!