In this month’s issue of Beyond the Classroom, we are proud to feature Stephanie, co-founder of Creatopia. Stephanie believes that more children should be exposed to the creative side of life and be able to explore their creative passions.

1. Describe yourself and what you do?

I’m a full time Mom to a 5 year-old daughter and also the co-founder of Creatopia; a platform where we offer unique and inspiring creative workshops for children and teens to explore their creative passions.

2. Is there a story behind WHY you do what you do? To what extent have your talents/passions led you in any way to do what you do today?

Our story began when our family decided to move to Singapore from Shanghai. One of the biggest trepidation was whether our daughter can have the most well rounded (i.e. creative) educational system here.  My husband is in the creative industry. In his years growing up in Singapore, he has personally faced tough challenges pursuing a creative career due to the lack of support and exposure. Equally, at one point I had wanted to pursue animation as a career, but admittedly, I rationalized myself out of it. Fundamentally, we were fearful our daughter will share the same limitations.

But, we believe in being the change we want to see…

Creatopia was engineered to help fan the raw flames of creativity; without it being overshadowed by the demands of conventional academia.  Confucius once said, “Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”. We are considered some of the lucky ones who do. We’d like more children to be able to experience that.

3. Share with us what you were like as a student and how school was like for you. In retrospect, how do you think that played a part in what you do now and who you have become?

To be frank, school was a drag. The way every subject was taught was dogmatic and rigid. It was hard to see their relevance in everyday applications. Even with Art classes, we had to take up subjects/themes that “scored better”. ECAs and PE lessons were the only things I looked forward to. I still passed and made it to university but it definitely taught me what an education shouldn’t be like.

4. How do you reinvent yourself? What motivates you?

In the last decade or so of more, my life has been all about re-invention.

To avoid the norms of an expat-heavy advertising culture, I asked for a transfer to Shanghai. After several years there, perhaps driven by the “can do” spirit in the air, I sought to discover more about myself and left the business of advertising and started a career as a Yoga Instructor. And I became a mom too along the way.  Life is a constant journey of new discoveries and now I find myself aspiring to change the minds and souls of Children.

What motivated me back then, was to find and create a better version of myself. However, what motivates me now, is seeing the sparkle in the eyes of the kids after they discovered a new thing that intrigues them. I see that everyday in the eyes of my daughter and this keeps me going in search of more unique workshop experiences for her and the children out there.

5. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received or given? Or Share ONE life lesson and how it changed the way you approached life.

The best piece of advice I ever received was from my dear husband. He taught me to “Never Give Up” and always “Think Positive”. Because only when you surround yourself with positive vibes, will you then receive positive vibes back. I found this to be really true as I have found myself really blessed to have met with really good people since starting up Creatopia 🙂

6. The future-ready educator should…

Re-invent and re-define what education means. To have a twist on Sir Ken Robinson’s words, we should NOT educate our children out of creativity.

7. What have you just learnt recently that blew you away? /Share an example of a life that you impacted

We recently held an event where renowned music & film director Joseph Kahn gave a master class. The thing that blew me away was how resilient and focused he was in achieving what he wanted in life. He knew, in order for him to make the movie he wanted without compromising, he had to save up money and financed his own. It took him decades but he did it. I admire his kind of discipline, patience and relentless hard work. There are no shortcuts. Even a legend like him had to dedicate everything in order to achieve.

8. How do you hope your business might do its part to transform or add value to the educational scene in Singapore?

On a macro level, there’s no doubt Creativity is going to be an essential tool in tackling the world’s current and future problems. Specific to Singapore, creativity will provide the much-needed transformation and future proofing of Singapore’s economy.

Creatopia’s core objective is to be the first exposure and “spark” towards building a long-term passion in creativity.

To that end, I am reminded of a quote from one of my favorite inspirational woman Michelle Obama: “If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn’t be here. I guarantee you that.”