Interview with Yeen Teck, CEO of Helpling Singapore

Yeen Teck Helpling Singapore

1) You started off with Spickify before it was acquired by Helpling (very quickly, if I may add). What have been the benefits of this acquisition for the company you founded and its future?

I co-founded Spickify with my partners with a clear objective – we saw that hiring reliable cleaning help was very difficult, and we felt that there were many people able to offer such services without a good way to locate these customers. The deal with Helpling has allowed us to achieve this objective and much more quickly than with Spickify alone. Helpling is active in over 200 cities in 14 countries around the world. That kind of scale has provided us with a lot of support in Singapore, both in terms of funding as well as technical and marketing support. We are the clear leader for this market segment in Singapore, and are in a position to provide even better value to our independent cleaners and their customers.

2) I’ve read that Helpling SG has its roots in a community project to help low-income Singapore residents obtain flexible part-time cleaning jobs. Why is giving back to the community important to you?

I was previously in the civil service and spent several years at the Ministry of Manpower. One of my portfolios was to find ways to make sure that lower-income workers weren’t being left behind.

There are many things that the Singapore government has been doing to help such workers, but at the same time there are certain things that it cannot and should not do. For instance, providing them with the actual jobs and work, which has to be done by the business community. This was initially a community project in my neighborhood helping residents from lower-income households find part-time domestic cleaning work. As it grew bigger, my partners and I needed to turn it into a proper business. This eventually became Spickify, and later Helpling. The values behind the community project remain a big part of what we do at Helpling. Many of our cleaning partners come from low-income households, or are unable to pursue full time work because of childcare needs or elderly care responsibilities.

3) What percentage of the cleaning fees paid goes to the cleaners?

Helpling takes 20 percent of the cleaning service fee, which goes into insurance (which the cleaners cannot obtain on their own) as well as overheads such as dedicated 7-day customer service support for both the cleaners and their customers. Our cleaning partners take home at least $16/hr for every job they take through our platform, which is more than triple what they would make in, say, a fast-food restaurant.

4) Is it true that all cleaners from Helpling SG are interviewed by your staff before they can take on cleaning jobs? What do you look out for during these interviews?

Yes, each of our cleaning partners goes through a thorough screening process before they can accept any jobs on Helpling’s platform. This includes: a personal interview; an aptitude test to ensure their knowledge of home cleaning meets the high standards expected by their customers; as well as police background checks. Trust, reliability, and cleaning experience are key attributes we look for in every cleaning partner.

5) Each cleaning session is backed by $1 million liability insurance – any claims made thus far? 

While we have had to manage some disputes between cleaners and their customers, we have not had to make any claims so far. The fact that we are the only service in Singapore with such insurance underscores the trust that people place in our platform.

6) How important is cleanliness to you? Are you a cleanliness freak? :D

I wouldn’t say I’m a cleanliness freak! But it is important that my home is neat and tidy. When I first set up Spickify, we needed to make sure we understood what our cleaning partners would go through, and what their customers would expect. So my team and I went out and cleaned customers’ homes ourselves. Over time, we have picked up a number of tips for tackling various cleaning tasks. It has been a busy time at Helpling now, but we still want to keep that “ground feel” with us. Recently, we teamed up with some grassroots volunteers in Boon Lay on their Project Facelift. We brought together our staff, some of our cleaning partners, as well as other volunteers to clean the homes of underprivileged residents in Boon Lay.

It was great to go out and get involved in the practical side of the business again, especially for such a good cause! You can see the video here.

7) Will cleaning fees go up during peak seasons, e.g. before Lunar New Year?

No, our fee of $18 for regular bookings and $20 for one-off bookings applies whenever you make a booking. Supply and demand of our cleaning partners will of course differ at certain times of the year, and consequently there might not be as many available cleaners on public holidays. We encourage our customers to make bookings early. But the price remains the same whenever you book. Our transparent pricing model is one of the major benefits of our service. Our customers know exactly how much their home cleaning will cost in advance, so there’s no unwelcome surprises at the end!

Let Helpling assist you in booking cleaning services in Singapore. Hire a legal and vetted part-time Helpling cleaner from just $18 per hour.


Lady First Singapore Is Back With Season 3! :D

Lady First SG Xiao Kai Lao Shi

I attended the recent Lady First beauty workshop held at Suntec City two Sundays ago, and once again got to see Xiao Kai in action. He’s arguably the most handsome guru featured on Lady First Singapore and it’s little wonder why. He takes pride in looking his best at all times. Apparently, he takes 2 hours to get himself ready before he heads out of the house. This is why he looks so flawless.

When it comes to dispensing beauty advice though, he keeps to three words most of the time…

” 凭感觉 “

It literally means “it’s based on how you feel”.

It can be quite frustrating to hear these words if they are uttered by a less-charming host. It’s like when you’re trying to learn a new recipe and the chef is unable (or unwilling) to tell you exactly how much of each ingredient you should add. This means you are unable to replicate the dish at home if you need precise instructions.

It’s the same with this beauty segment. There are no straightforward answers from Xiao Kai.

Ask him what shade of blusher suits your skin tone, and he’ll use those 3 words. Ask him how thick your brows should be and he’ll use those 3 words.

His rationale is that even if he says a certain color will look great on you, but you do not like it, then you won’t use it anyway. So you must feel good first before you will look good. And in a strange way, it does make sense!

So make sure you catch Lady First Singapore Season 3 every Tuesday evening – on StarHub’s E City (CH 111/825). Get as many tips as you can, and test them out to see if it suits you and if you feel good, then incorporate it into daily living! :)

Lady First SG giveaway

And, of course, there were lots of prizes given away. Even shoppers who stopped by just to listen in could win fabulous prizes after answering some questions. :)

And the stage games were hilarious. This one involved the sticking of cotton pads onto their faces using the Albion Skin Conditioner. I thought the lady would be the obvious winner since she’s probably the one with the most experience using cotton pads and skincare products, but the winner was actually the guy in the white shirt! :D

Lady First SG stage game

If you’d like to win some prizes too, then head over to StarHub Community – there’s a Samsung Galaxy Note 5, an Apple Watch, and other prizes up for grabs! Link here:

And if you’re curious about what each episode of Lady First (Season 3) is about, here’s a list:

Episode 1: Bosom Buddies (胸有大志傲人秘笈)
Episode 2: Fashionista Mums (时尚妈妈速成班)
Episode 3: 101 ways to get his attention (让男人为你转身的秘诀?)
Episode 4: Get Yourself a Celeb Bod (至少瘦5公斤,享瘦绝招大公开)
Episode 5: Secret to Staying Young Forever (冻龄美丽魔法)
Episode 6: Impress at First Sight (初次见面必杀技)
Episode 7: Say Goodbye to Acne (拯救痘痘脸,无暇肌肤大作战)
Episode 8: Beauty Hacks for Power Women (职场常胜军)
Episode 9: Beauty Round the Clock (美丽24小时不打烊)

Happy Watching and Stay Beautiful (and Dashing) !!!

7 Of The Coolest BE@RBRICK Designs Up For Charity Auction

If you don’t already know, 313@Somerset and ActionCity are celebrating Singapore’s Golden Jubilee with an SG50 BE@RBRICK competition and charity auction. Up for bids are BE@RBRICKs designed by MediaCorp artistes (like Xu Bin, James Seah, Carrie Wong) and other celebrities too. And here are my top 7 picks, out of the 50 designs available for bidding:


bearbrick Zhou

This is probably a BENGBRICK more than a BE@RBRICK. But I love it! :D Gurmit Seng (aka Phua Chu Kang) should most certainly bid for this one! I love the detail – chest hair, mole, thick gold chain and of course, those famous yellow boots! This, for me, is a winner. Don’t play play ah! :D


Sheila Sim bearbrick

I know Sheila is a fan of polka dots. And I love what she has done with this BE@RBRICK. It’s feminine, cutesy, playful with a hint of haughtiness (that nose, mainly). And… if you look closely, she has a mole just like the BE@RBRICK! TOO COOL!!! :D


bearbrick Keith Png

I love the creativity behind this BE@RBRICK by Keith Png. He has totally transformed the bear into a bee – with a mustache and red shoes no less! I love what he has done to the ears of the bear. Just paint them white and have the bear in front of a white background (in this case, his white shirt) and the ears ‘disappear’ to reveal just the bee’s antennae. He sure puts a lot of thought into the things he does and the clothes he wears. :D


bearbrick Alfie Leong

This BE@RBRICK by Alfie Leong is a refreshing burst of color. I love those randomly drawn lines! :D I just hope it wasn’t done using correction tape. Hehehe! Looks like it could fit into some arty-farty place, whether it be an atas restaurant or a museum. Yes, I’d love to take it home. :)


 bearbrick Adeline Tan

I think this floral design is really cool – I love how the colors selected are so pleasing to the eye. It’s likely a nice piece for any living room, and certainly a conversation starter as well. Why Adeline Tan named this ‘Meet me at the overhead bridge’, I don’t know. Perhaps I’ll have to check out the exhibition to find out.


bearbrick Jayl Chen

This is one wacky design – there’s Mr Kiasu with red-rimmed spectacles and a red ribbon a la Hello Kitty. And those hilarious eyebrows!!! :D *The back of the right ear seems like it needs a bit of touching up, maybe.


bearbricks Han Xiang Chua

I’d love to see what the actual BE@RBRICK looks like. I like the addition of the safety pin on top. And I think it’d be pretty cool if actual fabrics were used.


Bids start from $50 at and the auction ends on October 5th. Proceeds go to the Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN).

To view all 50 BE@RBRICK, head down to 313@Somerset’s L1 Atrium from today till September 27th. :)

Book Review: Daughters Of Eve by Lois Duncan

Daughters of Eve by Lois Duncan

If you’ve watched the movie “I Know What You Did Last Summer”, you might be familiar with author Lois Duncan. Her book ‘Daughters Of Eve’ was published in 1979 and updated in 2011. It’s quite a page-turner and it’s one of those books I’d happily forego sleep for so as to find out what happens in the next chapter. LOL. Needless to say, I was done reading the book pretty quick –  in just 2 sittings. :D

Here’s a summary: “A high school teacher uses the guise of feminist philosophy to manipulate the lives of a group of girls with chilling results”.

This book covers so many topics: sisterhood, loyalty, the mob mentality, sexism, revenge, love vs lust, dreams, relationships, divorces, domestic violence, etc. But revenge seems to be the main one – as you can see on the cover, it states “All for one and revenge for all”.

In some cases, I’d have to say that the revenge exacted was pretty satisfying, such as with Peter. The way he got ambushed, had all his bodily hair removed, and the word ‘SLUT’ carved into the back of his head… it all kind of made up for the way he callously toyed with Laura’s feelings, used her body and ruthlessly dumped her.

Then it gets darker and darker.

And you, the reader, are left wondering when it’ll all stop and what will be left at the end of it.

Indeed, it’s as one of the testimonial-givers shares:

“Lois Duncan’s thrillers have a timeless quality about them. They are good stories, very well told, that also happen to illuminate both the heroic and dark parts of growing up” – Marc Talbert, author of Dead Birds Singing, etc

I don’t know if you do the same but I love to read books (literally) from cover to cover. I read the testimonials given by other authors (You really should check out those on Ellen DeGeneres’ book as they were all written by her. LOL) and I read too the author’s Bio page to find out more about the person who wrote the book. Lois’ is particularly interesting, as I’ve indicated below:

Daughters of Eve Lois Duncan

Lois and her husband, Don, have five children. And among the many novels that Lois has written is a book titled ‘Who Killed My Daughter?” which is about the true story of the murder of Kaitlyn Arquette, the youngest of Lois’ children, on July 16, 1989 . You can find out more about this still-unsolved homicide at

It’s true – I don’t quite know what to say about this. May all rest in peace.

Book Review and Giveaway: Black Sheep by Richard Stephens

Black Sheep by Richard Stephens

Seeing double? Hehe. I have two copies of this book and am giving away one copy to a lucky reader who leaves a comment on this blogpost! :) If you’re like me in how I judge books by their covers, you’ll probably like this one, eh? That black sheep going “F*** OFF!” to the rest of the white sheep is just hilarious! :D And oh, you should definitely check out the back cover in which the black sheep is drinking alcohol!

This book is about “the hidden benefits of being bad”. Sounds incredible, doesn’t it?

It’s actually an enjoyable read. And the author also throws out a caveat within the foreword – “Don’t take the accounts in these pages as gospel”. Yeah. Just enjoy the read.

Chapter 1 is titled “Sleep Around”

Apparently, having sex helps in exercising facial muscles to keep us looking young, makes us more tolerant of pain, and reduces anxiety and stress. However, decision-making can be impaired by sexual arousal – one becomes more impulsive and prone to making less advantageous decisions. LOL!

Chapter 2 encourages us to “Drink Up”

Alcohol can protect against some illnesses, reduce your risk of depression and set creative juices flowing. There’s apparently such a thing as hangover immunity in which about 1 in 5 people don’t get hangovers, whatever they drink.

Chapter 3 claims that swearing is “Damn Good”

Hidden benefits of swearing include expressing emotion, being a tool for persuasion, as a means of coping with pain, way of identifying dementia, and to be polite. Swearing apparently acts on pain perception via the emotion of aggression.

Chapter 4 is on the benefits of fast driving. Chapter 5 is about love. I found it interesting that “Studies of people’s preferences for faces have repeatedly shown that, actually, people are more impressed by averageness”. Chapter 6 is on “Stress More” – being stressed can bolster your memory. Chapter 7 encourages us to “Waste Time” and states that chewing gum has psychological benefits. Doodling can also help maintain concentration while performing a dull task. Chapter 8 is on “Die Hard” which investigates near-death experiences. I do wish it can somehow be proven that those people did have out-of-body experiences. That would be way too cool! :D


This book retails at S$27.99 (before GST) at all good bookstores. You stand to win a copy if you leave a comment right here and tell me which of these chapters seem most interesting to you. :)

Update: Congratulations go to June Low! :D Check your email inbox for my winner notification email. And thank you all for participating! :D

Metta Café: A Halal-Certified Cafe In Simei That Everyone Should Visit

Metta Cafe

Am supposed to pop by Metta Café for an event today, but the haze is really getting to me so I’m staying home instead and feasting my eyes on the goodies via their FB page. :D But if you stay in or near Simei, do visit soon and show them some love! Metta Café was set up in 2014 by the Metta Welfare Association to provide F&B vocational training and graduate employment opportunities for Metta School youths aged 18 and above, and who have mild intellectual disability and/or autism.

They receive vocational training in baking, meal preparation, kitchen and customer service. Metta Café strives to help these youths achieve self-reliance and create future employment opportunities for them.

The halal-certified café serves both non-vegetarian and vegetarian local breakfasts and all-time Western favorites as well as freshly-baked cakes and pastries.

While you’re dining there, check out their pastries and the one-of-a-kind batik painting art thoughtfully handcrafted by Metta School alumni youths with special learning needs.

And I might be a little kiasu but…

I’m definitely getting their pineapple tarts come Chinese New Year next year:

Metta Cafe pineapple tarts

The Eggless Pineapple Tarts were going at just $13.80 this year. And here’s a review left on FB by a satisfied customer:

Metta Cafe review

Would it be too early to place an order now? :D :D :D

There is also a range of cakes you can order, for all sorts of occasions. Here are some pictures I’ve extracted from their Facebook page:

Metta Cafe mothers day cake

Metta Cafe fathers day cake

Metta Cafe national day cupcakes

Metta Cafe christmas logcake

I’ll be popping by for a meal soon, once this haze clears up. Here’s the address if you’d like to visit the cafe: Metta Café, Metta Buidling, 32 Simei St 1 Singapore 529950.

~ / 65804624

Book Review: Cultivating Creativity by Maria Fabrizio

Cultivating Creativity by Maria Fabrizio

The author of this book, Maria, is an illustrator and designer. And she also maintains the blog Wordless News. I wanted to read this book because I’m always on the lookout for ideas for becoming more creative, or rather, for ideas to help unleash innate creativity. :D I think most of us were extremely creative as children – we played make-believe games, doodled on walls, wrote our own storybooks, and spent lots of time daydreaming. As we grow older, sadly, we become less creative, our imagination becomes limited and we need structured, brainstorming sessions at work in order to (ironically) think out of the box and try to come up with innovative solutions.

And many bloggers struggle with expressing their creative voice, merely falling into the trap of doing what’s already been done, and trying to replicate something they see on another blog.

So how can we break out of the mould?

Maria’s Wordless News blog offers one such example. Her blog is “vowel and consonant free”, which means it’s probably not going to rank as well in Google searches. But, if you were to pop by her blog, you’d see images such as this one:


And a link to the article that inspired it, in this case a report about ‘The Underage Girls Of Mexico’s Sex Trade’

An image a day, inspired by a news article. How’s that for creativity? And doesn’t a picture speak a thousand words? :)

Maria’s book, ‘Cultivating Creativity’, also includes many of the images she has created. This next one is about the danger of toxic metals in some lipstick colors and brands:

Cultivating Creativity

I love this sketch, by the way:

Cultivating Creativity book

I’ve gathered many tips from Maria’s book ‘Cultivating Creativity’ and I’ll share some of them with you here:

  1. Work when it feels best and is more efficient
  2. Log off from email for 4 hours and simply create, enjoying the energy and peace
  3. Don’t have long lunches or eat too much at lunch
  4. Have a “uniform” that you wear everyday so you don’t have to waste time looking for matching clothes to wear
  5. Have a shortlist of choices for breakfast so you don’t waste time figuring out what to eat
  6. Exercise. “The longevity of a creative life comes from non-creative activities”
  7. Journal your thoughts, images and ideas
  8. Have a “blue book” in which you write down compliments and accomplishments that you can read for encouragement when you are feeling blue – get a dose of “intentional sunshine”
  9. Draw without looking at the paper – “the best way to capture a soul is with a blind contour, only looking and not harboring expectations”
  10. “The discipline of being prolific produces quantity, which then leads to quality”
  11. “Failure isn’t failure if you can reflect, learn and grow”


This full-color, illustrated book is available at all good bookstores for just S$27.06 (before GST). Needless to say, you have to go get a copy. Now. :D

ASUS Zenfone 2: Cool Features, Awaiting Battery Life Improvement

If you ask me what I look out for when getting a phone, I’ll tell you it’s the camera. Gone are the days when I’ll bring a DSLR with me for blogger events or reviews. Phone cameras are almost at the point whereby they can give DSLRs a run for their money. And one such phone is the ASUS Zenfone 2. It does have a ‘manual mode’ so you won’t miss your DSLR too much, not when there’s so much convenience to enjoy.

Here are some pictures I took (not using the manual mode – just auto) and I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out:

At Resorts World Sentosa

Resorts World Sentosa

Sashimi in Japan

Japan Sashimi

Park Hotel Alexandra

Park Hotel Alexandra

Here are some of the ASUS Zenfone 2’s features to look out for:

  1. World’s best Low-Light Mode
  2. World’s best HDR Mode
  3. 140degree selfie panorama mode
  4. Manual mode – for adjustments to horizon level, histogram chart, emotional zoom bar, shutter speed, white balance, ISO, EV, focus distance, saturation, contrast, sharpness, noise reduction, metering, etc
  5. Dual Active SIM – use two separate SIM cards with their respective phone numbers and data plans at the same time. You can even put a call on hold from one SIM to take a call on the other!

*Another cool feature: Tap screen twice when the screen is off and you can ‘wake’ your phone without having to reach for the power button.

The only issue I, and a few other Zenfone 2 users, have with this phone is the battery life. I understand that an update is in the works so just be patient, and bring an external battery pack just in case. :)

Horizon Bistronomy at Punggol Settlement: Yummy But Small Portions

Horizon Bistronomy King of the Sea

So he told me that we’re going for French “fine dining” at Punggol Settlement this evening, and knowing how he likes to joke, I thought it would just be a simple meal at Horizon Bistronomy. When the mains were served though, I commented that “Wow, it’s really fine dining!” (because of the small portion size) and his reply was “Is there a char kway teow stall nearby? Never mind, we can go for char kway teow after this!” :D *We didn’t, unfortunately.

Horizon Bistronomy puts out beautiful plates though. The dishes here are definitely great for IG pics. He ordered the King of the sea (S$26.90 + 10% service charge) and I had Horizon’s Duo of Pork (S$25.90 + S.C.).

His King of the sea dish came with “miso infused king salmon” (can’t taste the miso though) on a bed of zuchinni and shitake mushroom ragout (quite yummy) and a grilled lobster claw with mustard foam.

My choice of the Horizon’s Duo of Pork has slow braised pork belly (braised for 24 hours, according to the menu), with sous vide kurobuta pork tenderloin, a roasted cauliflower puree, miso infused grilled daikon, and grape mustard and pork jus.

Horizon's Duo of Pork

Basically, it’s two mouthfuls of pork tenderloin and two mouthfuls of delicious pork belly, and I was done with the meal. :D Perfect for people on a strict diet – I definitely burnt more calories running here.

And if I could comment on their menu… I’d say that corresponding pictures for each dish listed would be most helpful. I really don’t like menus which only have words on them.

Horizon Bistronomy Menu

The view, though, is fantastic. As today’s Friday, most of the tables have been reserved. Thankfully, he’d made a reservation before we jogged over from my place. :) And oh, there’s no GST at the moment. But it seems that the restaurant has plans for a second outlet, so visit while you can, before the additional 7% kicks in. *wink*

Horizon Bistronomy punggol settlement

We skipped dessert at Horizon Bistronomy as I felt that S$16.50 for a lava cake is rather steep. We headed to Wayne’s Chill Out on the same level as Horizon and ordered our usual waffle and 2 scoops of ice cream (chocolate and vanilla). Disappointed that there’s no Mango today, but the Vanilla ice cream is pretty good!

For some unknown reason, there was more Vanilla than Chocolate:

 Wayne's Chill Out

This cost only S$12.50. Hehehe.

If you don’t already know, Punggol End is pretty happening now. There are many restaurants, shops, bicycle rental stores, and even a Giant supermarket. You can even ride a horse nearby at Gallop Stable or rent a Flickr at Jumando. Don’t say bo jio! :)

*Punggol End is accessible by bus – simply hop on to service 84 which originates from Punggol Bus Interchange and alight in front of Gallop Stable after the bus does a U-turn.

Chef Yip Wing Wah’s Famous Mini Egg Custard Mooncakes

About two weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending the first mooncake masterclass to be conducted in Singapore by Chef Yip Wing Wah. Chef Yip is the Dim Sum Ambassador of The Peninsula Hotels and creator of The Peninsula Mooncakes! :D He works at lightning speed, has a good sense of humor, and has a most endearing smile.

Chef Yip popping the mooncakes into the oven:

Chef Yip Wing Wah

The background: “In 1986, Chef Yip and his culinary team at Spring Moon Chinese restaurant at The Peninsula Hong Kong created the world renowned and widely copied mini egg custard mooncakes, which is a contemporary take on the traditional filing of lotus seed paste and duck egg yolk.”

The Mooncake Masterclass was conducted at the ToTT Cooking Studio at Dunearn Road. We were taught (a little of) how to make the Mini Egg Custard Moon cakes. Teddy Leung, Chinese F&B Operations of Peninsula Hotels, also gave a Chinese Tea demonstration.

Egg wash: for a nice brown shine after the mooncakes are baked

Mini Egg Custard Mooncakes

Because this is still a secret recipe, we did not get the recipe, and were left wondering about the weight of each ingredient. Also, the mooncake filling was pre-made for us and left to chill in the fridge, so we didn’t know its exact composition.

The mooncakes made by the ‘class’:

Mini Egg Custard Mooncakes

What we do know, however, is that these mooncakes are absolutely delicious! I’m not kidding! These are really good! Especially those that are fresh out of the oven. You can buy the mooncakes from The Peninsula Boutique (at ION, TANGS Vivocity Atrium, Chevron House, etc) and bring them home, fire up your stove and heat up a frying pan (without any oil) then put in those mooncakes and let them get heated up naturally (without a flame).

If you’ve never tried egg custard mooncakes before, you have to sample these. They are not too sweet, have a thin and crumbly crust and have a nice fragrance when you eat them while they’re still warm! Complete this treat with some Chinese tea and a sigh of contentment. I know I did. :)

Mini Egg Custard Mooncakes

Pricing: Mini Egg Custard Mooncake (8pcs) in a gift box: S$66, Mini Egg Custard Mooncake (4pcs) + Mini Golden Lotus Seed Paste Mooncake with Yolk (4pcs) in a gift box: S$66.

Go get them before they are sold out! :)