Jessi Chloe Chen, Founder, ANDRSN Flowers

Co-founded by Jessi Chloe Chen, a highly-efficient and encouraging serial entrepreneur, she started her sweet venture – ANDRSN Flowers, in 2017. Bespoke Australian-grown roses are beautifully packaged in ANDRSN’s signature square box and delivered door-to-door. ANDRSN, in fact, is one of her side projects. She currently juggles between her 9-to-5 job in the real estate industry and other side businesses such as Tushie Cakery and Talking Mental. We are grateful to have this opportunity to talk with Jessi about her mental health journey with work, her side hustle, general well-being and kick-ass ways to control stress and anxiety.

What’s your work schedule like?

Jessi: All of our orders are out the door by 9am each morning and with our customers before noon! ANDRSN is our passion project and my role mainly entails the marketing and business development side of the business. We are lucky enough to have a small but trustworthy and efficient team so we are able to be quite hands off in terms of day to day operations. Outside of ANDRSN I have my 9-5 role at Fuin Real Estate which keeps me on my toes!

What’s the most challenging part of going into a business with your best friend? How do you work through conflicts together?

Jessi: The best part of working with Aria is that we understand each other to such a degree that we don’t need to explain ourselves in so many words. We see eye to eye on most things and we have always had the same vision for ANDRSN. Friendship can also be the trickiest part because we also have an in depth understanding of each others personal lives. We have known each other since we were 14 years old.

We both have our individual strengths; she is a very detail-oriented person, whereas I’m more macro in my approach. So, I’d say that our skillsets complement each other.We support each other as much as possible but sometimes it’s hard to strike the right balance between professionalism and friendship. And I think we have learned that we need to keep a level head and be objective in maintaining a level of business etiquette between us. We have had to be hard on each other like: “Look, this is what needs to be done. Let’s do this together!”

What’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned from ANDRSN Flowers?

Jessi: I have learned that the biggest challenges usually manifest in your own head. Many things can seem overwhelming, but once I start working through a problem, I realize that it’s not that hard after all. The best thing that you could possibly have in any situation at any given point in time is knowledge. The more understanding and more information you have, the less scary any certain thing becomes.

“Sometimes, you have to put your ego aside and ask for help when you need it the most.”

 

Another thing is to not be afraid to ask for help, and really understand that there are more people who want to help you than not. Sometimes, you have to put your ego aside and ask for help when you need it the most. I think a lot of the time people’s egos can really be their biggest downfall, at either end of the spectrum. On one end, you think you are the greatest and don’t need any help, like “I’m amazing at everything. I don’t appreciate anybody’s opinion.” And on the other end, you may want to save face, like “I don’t want to seem weak, or that I’m not as skilled as I make out to be.” You end up becoming apprehensive in asking for help or to ask important questions, which can lead to other detrimental things. I always talk about everything being on a spectrum, and I try my best to stay balanced on an even keel.

Have you ever had a panic attack because of stress or work overload before?

Jessi: I wouldn’t say it was only because of stress or work, but I have experienced panic attacks. My first serious panic attack happened around seven years ago. I had moved back to Hong Kong from Australia at the time and was working like crazy the first few years of moving back, and continued to! (Laughs). I was also partying super hard and barely sleeping. These two major lifestyle factors coupled with some traumatic life events I think really took a toll on my mental health. I was in a pretty toxic relationship at the time and experienced the loss of someone very dear to me in my life. It was just a culmination of a lot of stressors that brought me to that breaking point.

One evening after work I was at dinner with my family. Mid-meal out of nowhere I felt the whole room enclose on me, my heart was racing, I was covered in sweat, I went pale and my left arm went completely numb. I couldn’t breathe and was passing out, I honestly thought I was going to die. Luckily my mom was seated next to me and I grabbed her and was like “I think I’m going to die, I need to go to hospital”. My mom meditates and is very sensitive to people and their energy. She could tell that something was very wrong and she could read my energy at the time was completely off. She didn’t take me to hospital but took me home and did a lot of energy work on me until I felt better. I did feel better after that but the panic attacks kept coming for months after.

There were numerous times where I’d have an episode and take myself to the hospital thinking I was going to die. And each time the doctors would calm me down, do an ECG (electrocardiography), and tell me my heart and body was fine. It took me a while to really, for one, believe it was mental and not physical, and two, understand what that even meant in terms of mental health. I learned that anxiety is such a subconscious thing; people that suffer from anxiety most of the time don’t even identify it as anxiety or acknowledge that it is there. Those small triggers can build over time into something much bigger and when you reach that point, that’s when the panic attack comes.

 

 

“I was then able to have a much clearer mindset of what I wanted, or did not want in my life, the things I was afraid of, and just started to adjust my priorities and be a lot more conscious of myself and my mental state.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did you recover from the panic attack? How to cope with anxiety?

Jessi: It stemmed from choices that I had been making in my life. I wasn’t taking care of myself in the way that I should have been. I also came to understand that it was because of events that occurred which were outside of my control. I was then able to have a much clearer mindset of what I wanted, or did not want in my life, the things I was afraid of, and just started to adjust my priorities and be a lot more conscious of myself and my mental state. 

Luckily I haven’t had a panic attack in a good few years, but anxiety is still something I deal with. It’s all about maintenance, being mindful and checking in with yourself. What has helped me cope with anxiety the most, has been to push myself into what is most uncomfortable and experience it, and just do the thing that I am most fearful of. It is counter-intuitive, and I don’t think it is the easiest. But after you confront something, you’re no longer its victim. If you’re always avoiding the fear, you’ll always be the prey. If you’re running, and decide to turn around and confront that fear, you’re no longer the prey. You almost become the predator. Ultimately, it changes your mentality on that issue.

What to do when you feel a burnout?

Jessi: I am a very social person, so having alone time is really important. I do need that ‘mental health day’ where I speak and interact with minimal people, and just take time for myself to relax and do nothing. I live with my boyfriend and some days we’ll just be like “Okay it’s quiet time.” and just be silent. Everybody needs solidarity and their own personal space. There’s definitely nothing wrong with that.  

Staying active has also really helped, I try and work out relatively regularly. I try and do HIIT or weight training a few times a week and go for runs. For me, when I work out and feel physical strong it definitely translated into a level of mental strength too. If your body can do it, your mind can too. You don’t need to be obsessive about exercise or become an athlete, but any effort is better than no effort. 

What’s your simple way to master time-management?

Jessi: Google Calendar is my life! (Laughs) I don’t have the best memory and when you’re wearing different hats, and have a bunch of moving parts that need to be managed day to day, you need to have a level of organization. I’d say technology has really helped me function and master my time-management. Even with my boyfriend, our date nights are scheduled in on the Gcal. He knows my schedule, and I know his, and we accommodate to each other. People say it’s the most unromantic thing they’ve ever heard, but it works for us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to do when you feel overwhelmed by your workload?

Jessi: I think we’ve all had that overwhelming feeling of having so much to do and not enough time. I swear the days go by faster these days. I usually take a moment to write down a concise list of items that need to get done. I start from the top and work my way down, checking things off one by one. I often project too far into the future and then can feel overwhelmed by the thought of the million things I want to do or achieve in the course of the year, or two years, or five, and then start feeling stressed. I have to reel myself back in, get back to centre, and be present – focussing on what I can do, and how best and most efficiently my time can be spent right now.

What are your ways to boost your energy at work?

Jessi: Us Aussie’s love a good coffee! It’s definitely key to getting through a long day. Other than that, staying mobile really helps, sometimes I’ll work standing up in the kitchen area. A workout at lunch is always a good energy booster and gets those endorphins going. It also breaks up the day so when you get back to the office you’re focussed and ready to go again.

What are the essential things to keep you Zen at work?

Jessi: Working with a great team is so important. If you enjoy working with the people that you work with, it makes such a big difference.


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