Ex-SQ Girl & Director Quit Her Cushy Desk Job to Become a Pork Seller in a Bukit Batok Wet Market


For most of us youngsters these days, it’s tough to even imagine us ever working at a wet market.

And it’s even more so for those who hold high, well-paying positions in their companies.

However, a 29-year-old Singaporean decided to take the leap, leaving her cushy desk job to join her in-laws’ family business.

And her efforts did not go unnoticed, for 8world picked up on her story and even filmed a segment for the family’s story to be seen by Singaporeans all across the country.

The video, which was uploaded on 6 May, has since garnered over 30,500 views on 8world‘s YouTube channel.

In the video, Emily Tan, the young woman who joined the pork-selling business set up by her husband’s family, took the chance to explain her decision and describe her job scope.

History of the Business

Founded in 1968 as Quan Shui Fresh Pork, the business was started by Oh Quan Shui, the grandfather of Tan’s husband.

After he retired, he passed the business on to his daughter, Tan’s mother in law.

The stall has been located at at Block 156 Bukit Batok Street 11 for the past 22 years, and was recently renamed as Quan Shui Wet Market.

How She Joined the Business

Prior to joining the business, Tan actually had no experience in the industry at all.

She was a communications and new media student in university, and worked as a cabin crew at SIA for three years after graduating.

She then left her job and assumed the role of director of business development at a startup in Shanghai, China.

After the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, she started working from home.

During the Circuit Breaker period back in April 2020, Tan witnessed firsthand how the COVID-19 pandemic had affected her in-laws’ business, and the mental toll it took on them.

She emotionally recounted how tired they looked, and realised that they were in a “difficult position”, especially since they were worried about not being able to sell the stocks that they had previously purchased in bulk.


Started By Launching Online Order Platform

Seeing her in-laws’ plight prompted Tan to help out the family business by launching an online platform for customers to purchase goods from the business.

Back in 2001, Tan’s father-in-law had actually tried to launch an online website to sell groceries, but his attempts were unsuccessful as people mostly bought their groceries in-person back then.

Tan then decided to relaunch the website and help fulfil her father-in-law’s dream, handling the design and operations of the website herself.

At first, Tan and her family would accept smaller orders from neighbours around them through WhatsApp. They would then deliver the goods to the customers’ doorsteps by walking to their houses.

And Tan’s move to relaunch the website proved to pay off.


In just two months, the amount of business that the family received increased exponentially, signalling the start of much better business that would follow.

Eventually Decided to Quit Day Job

After business got better, the family became much busier.

Tan mentioned in her interview with 8world that it felt like they opened another shop.

In particular, Tan had to not only handle the web design, photography, retail analytics of the website, but also chopped meat, de-feathered chickens and carried out deliveries by herself.

At that point of time, she was still working at her day job full-time.

She then made the choice to leave her full-time job in order to better manage the business.


Current State of Business

As of now, the business receives anywhere from 50 to 100 orders per day, and offers island-wide delivery other than to Tuas.

By getting products from other stalls in the wet market, Quan Shui now offers a wide variety of groceries ranging from vegetables to chicken and even seafood on their website.

Orders placed before 10pm will be fulfiled the next day.

Currently, Tan heads down to the wet market a few days every week to help oversee the supplies in the store.

Initial Doubts and Regrets

Although Tan’s journey may look like an incredibly fulfilling one, there were definitely times of difficulty for Tan.


When she first revealed to her family that she wanted to join her in-laws in manning the wet market stall, her parents felt pained on her behalf since the job seemed undoubtedly tough, especially for a young woman.

They also pointed out that she was a university graduate and had a decent job, and expressed that they could not understand why she wanted to make the career switch.

Tan also recalled the difficulties she faced at first when she first joined her in-laws.

Besides from transitioning from a nine-to-five office job in a comfortable office to working long hours for most of the day in the wet market, many of the tasks at the stall also required physical strength and exertion, along with waking up early in the morning.

She also added that as a wet market stallholder with an online website, there never really is a time to knock off; she has to be “at work” round the clock.

During that period of time, Tan shared that she was filled with regrets and doubts about her decision.

She also pointed out the unpleasant physical working conditions in the hot, humid and dirty wet market, as well as needing to hear gossip from others around her.

She said that those conditions took a substantial toll on both her physical and mental health, making it even harder for her to cope in the beginning.


She even told 8world that she would be lying if she said that she never regretted her decision before.

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However, she also acknowledged the benefits that this job has brought about to her.

Even though working in a wet market was never part of her plans, she noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and taking up that job let her challenge herself and see how far she is able to stretch her limits.

She also admitted that she would have never attempted to take on such a career in the past.

More importantly, she also pointed out that by joining the family business, her family members have become much more close to each other.

When talking about what advice she has for those who are looking to try out new career pathways, Tan said confidently, “The possibilities in the world are endless, if given the chance and you are willing to try it, I’d say, go for it.”

Husband Inspired by Her to Join

Of course, no man is an island, and Tan is no different.

Tan talked about how the encouragement and help that her in-laws and husband allowed the family to improve their current state.

Additionally, Tan actually inspired her husband to join the family business as well.

Her husband, Neo Jun He, decided to follow his wife’s career path and switched to join the family business as well, much to his parents’ delight.

Neo was a secondary school math teacher in the past, and recounted how his parents were very surprised when he announced his change in profession.

This was due to his immense interest and passion in teaching.

He himself was shocked when his wife initially presented him with her plan of joining his parents’ business as well.

After leaving his job in 2021, Neo took over the role of overseeing the finances of the family business.

Parents’ Reactions

Armed with new blood in the form of third-generation wet market butchers since the start of the pandemic, the business has been doing well.

Neo’s parents have also been understandably glad about the younger generation’s interest in continuing the business.

When speaking to 8world, the elderly couple were clearly emotional and said that they were extremely touched and elated at their son and daughter-in-law’s actions.

They also promised that they would support the younger couple all the way, and epressed their joy at being able to enjoy retirement now.

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Featured Image: Google Maps