“To be immersed in design and beautiful everyday objects seemed too good an opportunity to miss,” says Yew Kong Tham, owner of Ginkgo Leaf shop in Sydney’s Woollahra. About two years ago he left the safety of a salaried position within a large organisation and opened a shop dedicated to well-designed artisanal Japanese products. While Yew Kong graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of South Australia and worked in that field for 15 years, he sidestepped into student services and after working in North America for seven years was ready for a new challenge. “Quite simply I was ready to move on, and contemporary Japanese product designs and aesthetics have always fascinated me,” he says. “Ginkgo Leaf enables me to turn a personal passion into a viable business.” 

Which five words best describe you? Loyal, meticulous, efficient. Occasionally impatient and right all of the time?

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? Reasonably smooth path straight after graduation in direct social work practice, then dabbled a bit in marketing research before spending nine years with UNSW in student support services.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Go for the jugular and remind myself to always trust one’s own gut feelings.  

What’s your proudest career achievement? To gain clarity and real understanding of what I really want to achieve.

What’s been your best decision? To constantly remind myself to keep curious and never stop learning.

Who inspires you? Everyday volunteers.

What are you passionate about? Good design, urbanity, good food and most of all, my family.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? My Father.

What dream do you still want to fulfill? To travel and experience more of the world.

What are you reading? In Praise of Shadows by Japanese author Junichiro Tanizaki.

images courtesy of ginkgo leaf; image 4 natalie walton

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