Ashley Ong is the Co-Founder and Director of Bleu, a one-of-a-kind gourmet seafood grocer located in the Joo Chiat neighborhood. It specializes in quality live, chilled, frozen, and aged seafood.
Tell us more about yourself and what you’re passionate about, which led you to what you’re doing now.
I am in the construction industry, which usually comes as a surprise to most people, and is in no way related to my passion for F&B. I’ve always enjoyed preparing and cooking seafood. However, I felt there was a lack of seafood delicacies in Singapore’s grocery stores, such as dry-aged fish, live lobsters, and live crabs.
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Turning something you’re passionate about into a viable business isn’t always easy. Walk us through your journey and the challenges you’ve met along the way.
I would say that I am quite lucky because my business partners are equally passionate about the F&B scene. We started selling hairy crabs online and the response was much better than we expected. This was when we noticed the demand for seafood, especially the ones that are less accessible. Like most business owners, starting a business definitely has its ups and downs and ours included deciding the perfect location for our humble store.
What are your long-term goals and what steps are you taking to realize them to ensure longevity and sustainability?
My business partners and I have yet to decide if we’d like to open another Bleu outlet, or if we’d venture into a different F&B business. We have been focusing on building the Bleu brand currently.
In addition, we spend our time sourcing a variety of quality seafood as we would like to share our love for seafood and make it accessible for everyone. We are also expanding our ready-to-eat hot and cold food menu, as well as researching and developing ways to create a line-up of delicious items using the raw seafood we bring in.
How would you encourage those who want to act on their passions and turn it into something more, but have no idea how to get started?
I’d say to go for it! There will definitely be a lot of considerations and uncertainties initially – especially since manpower and rentals are a perennial challenge. But once you push yourself and take the first step, everything will eventually fall into place.
Define what passion is for you.
My passion for the F&B industry keeps me constantly busy and curious, as I figure out how the other businesses do it. Yet, at the end of it all, it provides me a sense of contentment.