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Perfect Weekend: Strength In Strokes

This head honcho finds calm in practising Chinese calligraphy.

Eight calligraphy brushes hanging from a rack sway in the breeze on the 16th floor balcony. There’s a view of the Singapore River, and birds are chirping nearby.

This is the tranquil environment Annie Sun immerses herself in when she’s practising Chinese calligraphy and painting. The 44-year-old is head of Dynaforce, which distributes high- end fitness equipment by Technogym and spa fittings by Starpool.

Born in Shanghai and raised in Melbourne, Sun learnt the art in elementary school and has relied on it through the years to maintain calm when facing adversity.

“I found peace and strength,” says Sun as she paints a thin bamboo pole in one bold stroke. It’s a subject for which she has an affinity.

“I love painting bamboo. It’s so beautiful and dances in the wind gracefully. So skinny yet so strong,” she says, looking up and smiling. “So when I look at it, I think about its strength and I feel it too.”

Such inspiration have come in handy while running the business. In 2006, six years after moving to Singapore, she assumed the role of CEO when the company’s key employees left to start a rival firm.

“It was a crisis,” Sun says. “It was such a dark moment and I had no vision of how to rescue the company.”

But she maintains it’s all about finding strength and turning the negative into positive. “Once, when I was painting, I dropped ink on the paper. It was a mistake but I turned the blot into a bird. Like a crisis in business, it’s up to you to turn it into something good.”

Applying that inspiration, she rebuilt the firm with a new team. Technogym’s distribution deal gave Dynaforce the rights to expand into the rest of South-east Asia. In 2010, the company started distributing Starpool products. By late last year, sales were up to $15 million, compared to $6 million in 2006.

“Calligraphy is me-time,” Sun says. “It’s like having a good night’s rest. Your strength will be renewed and you’ll feel so refreshed, you’re ready for any challenge.”