It is her home recipe; a spoonful of optimism, a dose of courage and a dash of smile are all it takes for Jessy Lai to become an entrepreneur and a leader. Topped with a state conferred title of Dato’ Sri, Jessy Lai lets her achievements to spell out her hard work.
The faint smell of chlorine wafts in the air as I got out of my car. I was invited over to Jessy’s residence for the meeting, a place of wonder for many curious admirers of hers so it is a work pleasure for me–to be able to meet her behind closed doors.
Turning heads, beckoning attention, that is the aura that she carries upon entering the room. It is neither the casual white T-shirt she wears nor the perfectly trimmed and styled short hair that calls for a noticeable appearance. It is confidence.
Right in her element, Jessy welcomes her guests with familiarity, food and warmth; just like any other Malaysian. When one would think that as an owner of a multinational company, she would be wearing a golden robe or glass slippers. Well, they are not all wrong. Jessy is surprisingly ordinary but she’s definitely not an average person.
Happy Go Lucky
In an Asian family, it is inevitable for anyone to be spared from the unspoken agony of being compared with your siblings by your relatives. As a child, Jessy sees her elder sister being favoured by everyone.
She was born as a second child with 5 years of difference with her sister. Compared with her elder sibling, she has short spiky hair, monolid eyes and a flat nose. “My relatives would ask my mother how did she gave birth to two contrasting children; one so lovely and another so ugly”, Jessy recollects.
This trial in her childhood days does not end inside the walls of her house. It extends to her school where teachers would note the differences between the sisters. But she does not allow that to put a dent in her.
“Despite lacking in my appearance, I have a positive and cheerful character since I was young. Just very happy go lucky. The environment in which I was raised in empowers me to be brave and gave me the strength to face different situations”.
Jessy grew up in fairly moderate household in Malacca. She wasn’t raised in a lap of luxury but she’s rich in self-motivation. “Since I don’t have the ‘look’, I told myself to be better, kinder, to improve and excel from the inside–it’s okay to be short. I can be a petite person but with a huge heart.”
Making Her Own Path
Freshly graduated from high school, she took on a job that she thought would fit well with her cheerful personality. Jessy became a kindergarten teacher at 18 years old.
“I was confident I could perform well. I was the champion in storytelling competitions so I looked forward to telling stories to my nursery children. Little did I know that it won’t come true–because of language barrier”.
The road bumps in the job did not make her quit. Instead she worked on her shortcomings and prevailed for 4 years teaching children.
Every successful person have their own inspiration and for Jessy, it was the kindergarten owner that struck a chord in her. “She’s the first person that I truly admire. Even after knowing my challenges, she didn’t let me go. She arranged me to teach music instead.”
Her influence as a music teacher made a change in the kindergarten’s atmosphere. While previously it was strictly lessons, the environment became more lively when kids started to sing even in the playground. From there, Jessy knows that she has the power to make a difference if she persevered.
A Multinational Businesswoman
The year of 2014 is a significant time for Jessy when she founded her own company–the Monspace Multinational Corporation. Although it is based in Malaysia, the company actually started out in China. Jessy is not the first Malaysian entrepreneur to spearhead her business on international grounds; but till today, it is one of her proudest achievements to date.
“The country is my platform of growth. My strategy is to analyse the trend and future needs in China and whatever vision I have for China, I will apply it for my own nation in Malaysia and expand it to international waters. This is how we have achieved 20 million users worldwide.”
Monspace is known for their multi-industrial investments namely e-commerce, tourism, aviation, entertainment, property, finance, agriculture, beauty, health, food and beverage as well as in telecommunications. While looking back, Jessy did her first business deal by selling cosmetics in her part-time job.
“My sister got me into network marketing when I moved to Kuala Lumpur. The multifaceted aspects in being a network marketer is a way of growth for me as it inspires me to constantly improve myself.”
“I’ve sold vitamins, water filter, health foods and etc. Everytime I’m given a new task, it is a chance for me to learn about the industry and products. One also must be optimistic as a network marketer. There will be rejections and complains daily so it is important to be driven and disciplined in whatever we are doing.”
Jessy shares that there are more women working in this industry than men because network marketing is constantly seen as merely a part-time job. As men are mostly the breadwinners of their families, it is less likely for them to be a network marketer as it is not a stable job so the members are mostly housewives.
“In our business, we don’t make promises but we show our trust and outcome through the work we do. There is no point making promises with no actual fulfillment so we do our part by proving ourselves.”
Therefore, from a network marketer to a multinational businesswoman, she is keen to show the world that anything can happen if you put your mind into it. Just as they say, winners never quit and quitters never win. As of now, Monspace has various international projects and one of it is the placements of massage chairs in main airports and train stations across China.
Monspace also has investments in research supplements for space astronauts and commercialising it to the public in China. Other than that, the company is starting their own study in satellites for the future.
Despite her huge network and notable business ventures, she does not see Monspace as a ‘successful’ business. “We are only a 4-year-old baby. A business that can last for a century is what I am aiming for so I’m laying the foundation now for our growth in times to come.”
A company is also a reflection of the founder. From the way things run and the various business ventures of Monspace, Jessy believes that every decision must be earnest and transparent in actions. After all, ‘Monspace’ can be directly translated–from the French word mon (my)–as ‘my space’.
To her, the multinational company can only come through with the right people on board. “Most of the time, I receive project proposals for the company. It doesn’t matter if it is a good project (or not). I will give it a go mostly depending on the organising person behind it.”
Not only limited to business potentials, the big-hearted girl from Malacca is also a known philanthropist across the world.
“There are so many people that needs help in this world. It is beyond our capacity to reach out to everyone so I believe in destiny to show me the way. I will do the best I can to help those that stumble upon my path.”
You may follow her journey more intimately through her official site where she often blogs about her philosophies and snippets of her life. Understanding her love to motivate through speech and writing, I asked Jessy to share the title of her autobiography–if she were to have one. She laughed and answered, “ 用生命影响生命, meaning life inspiring life”.
Interlinking with her company’s motto, Jessy is hopeful in using one’s life experience to inspire others. Like everybody else, success did not come overnight and she lives in the belief that perseverance and hard work will reap its reward. Beyond achievement and recognition, having the fulfillment of helping others brings peace and happiness to oneself.
Text Jessy Wong • Photos Rick Cheah & Dato’ Sri Jessy Lai