In August 2008, I left my job as a florist in Japan and came to Singapore with the dream of starting my own business. A friend suggested Singapore to me, as it is a cosmopolitan city. I believe when you leave your own country, you widen your view of the world.
When I came here, I spoke little English and knew no one here. With no knowledge of how to find my first clients, I headed out to Orchard Road everyday. Carrying my Yohan Japanese-English dictionary and an album of my works, I will turn up unannounced daily at shops and offices along Orchard Road, hoping to secure an order. I did this for a year, introducing myself with the line, ‘Hello, my name is Dan Takeda. I am from Japan.’
After two months of rejections, I started to question myself. Why am I doing this? What is my dream and passion in life? I had countless breakdowns then. But I also reflected on myself everyday. How do I improve myself? How do I learn from this? Slowly, I realised that the only way to reach my goal – to have my own business – is to keep going.
One day, I got the idea that if I could just have one well-known client, that endorsement will help kick-start the business. I visited the Louis Vuitton offices every week, bringing along my flower arrangements, and on occasion, Japanese snacks. Eventually, they commissioned me for a job.
It has been seven years since then. I’m very humbled by the opportunities I’ve been given in Singapore. I’m also continually inspired by the beauty of Singapore, where there is a melting pot of cultures. In contrast to the hierarchies of Japan, people here express their thoughts freely and often think outside of a black-and-white worldview.
I feel it is very important that we Japanese learn from this worldview as it is only through the exposure to the many cultures in Singapore that I started moving towards my current style. Perhaps, if I stayed in Japan, I wouldn’t evolve into who I am today.
Nevertheless, my time in Singapore – the good and bad times – has made me more appreciative of Japan, the land I was born and raised in. Looking back, I don’t regret anything at all.
Thank you, Singapore! Thank you, Japan!