Jan 15, 2019
Put a balloon in Miss Vanessa Nee’s hands and she can create magic, turning it into something that brings smiles to people.
The business management student at the East Asia Institute of Management (EASB) is a self-described “accidental entrepreneur”.
Miss Nee, 20, runs Vantastic Event, which supplies balloon sculptures, kacang putih, popcorn and candy floss machines, on top of entertaining magic shows. And she has been doing this since she was 14.
Her entrepreneurship journey started when she volunteered to help create a flag made of a record-breaking 19,368 balloons for a community dinner. She then continued making balloon sculptures for community and charity events, and eventually got commissioned to do this for private events.
After completing her studies at Yusof Ishak Secondary School, she decided to enrol in EASB as it offered a faster route to a degree.
She joined the institute in 2016 to study Business Management as it is relevant to her fledgling business.
“At EASB, I learn the proper way to do business and get a better understanding of how to run a company and grow it. The lecturers are very helpful, showing me how to apply marketing strategy to boost traffic for my website, how to maintain a ledger, and how I can invest my earnings,” she says.
“The school doesn’t pressure us to score good grades. Instead, it encourages students by guiding those who are lagging behind. The environment is conducive in helping us do our best.
“EASB is not a typical private school where you struggle with self-study. The lecturers will go the extra mile to help you.”
As a child, Miss Nee was an introvert. But when her father died from cardiac arrest at the age of 50, the devastated teenager had to “grow up fast, become independent and earn money so that I would not be a financial burden to my mother”.
Having inherited her late father’s determination, Miss Nee’s willingness to try new things saw her through.
By the age of 16, she had earned enough money to buy a second-hand cotton candy machine for $300. She also scrimped and saved to buy a popcorn machine to boost her business.
EASB has not only helped to hone Miss Nee’s business skills, but has also turned her into a confident, self-assured person who often takes the lead in team projects and is not afraid to showcase her other talents.
Last year, Miss Nee won the EASB Sportswoman award for her overall result in individual and team activities such as badminton, bowling and telematches. She also came in third for the EASB Talent contest, where she was the only magician out of 14 contestants.
After she graduates in 2020, she wants to expand her events business and explore charity projects. She also wants to realise her dream of running a food truck.
But her ultimate goal is “to build an orphanage or shelter in a third-world country, and make life better for underprivileged children”.
“If you don’t let yourself go, you won’t know how far you will rise,” she says, citing a motivational quote about life being like a balloon.