Celeb dad Daniel Ong: Single-dad dating is like buy 1, get 1 free!

Learn how serial entrepreneur Daniel Ong finds time in his punishing schedule to bond with his daughter…and date.

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Former Mediacorp Radio DJ, Daniel Ong may be best known for launching cupcake chain, Twelve Cupcakes, with ex-wife Jaime Teo, 40, but he actually wears many hats.

Indeed, the 42-year-old single dad has owned numerous businesses, ranging from car polishing, and beads and accessories, to home refurbishment.

He says, “Business has always been in my blood. I have actually been doing business since a very young age — a curry puff business at 10 years old, tuition at age 14 [and] numerous businesses as well while I was in showbiz. I’ve always had a keen interest.”

Following his divorce from Teo, with whom he shares daughter, Renee, 7, Twelve Cupcakes was sold last year to an Indian tea company for $2.5 million. Incidentally, his baked goods success spurred him to venture into motivational speaking.

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Daniel, who posts entrepreneurship videos on his YouTube channel DanielOngLive, enthuses, “It is my side project — more like a hobby. I hope to motivate, help and journey with aspiring entrepreneurs to achieve their success!”

Not one to rest on his laurels, his extensive CV includes being head honcho of casual dining restaurants, Rookery and Mischief, as well as of social media advertising agency Woohoo and renovation materials company Danwerkz.

“My daughter is my priority. I plan my meetings and jobs around time spent with her.”

He also co-founded a new local craft beer label, Brewlander, with FLY Entertainment artiste and fellow single dad, Allan Wu! Though Daniel’s professional and personal life seems to be on an upward trajectory, he is tight-lipped about his relationship with makeup artist Linda Lee.

SmartParents finds out how the affable serial entrepreneur effortlessly juggles work, co-parenting duties and dating…

So, what’s your secret to juggling your roles as a dad and being boss of so many different ventures and?
My daughter is my priority. I plan my meetings and jobs around time spent with her. The secret to juggling numerous different interests and businesses is time management. I’m also kinda workaholic, which is also why I cherish my holidays so dearly.
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What is a day in life of Daniel Ong like?
I wake up at about seven-ish every morning, have my coffee and catch up on the news. My first meeting starts at 9am. I usually meet clients and rush from renovation project to project till about 1pm. Then I’ll pick Renee up after school and spend some time with her before continuing on with my afternoon meetings till about 6pm. I then cook or take her to dinner before my last bout of meetings from 8 to 10pm.

That sounds hectic! How do you find the time for yourself?
The hour I have in the morning is usually my respite. I do things like reading the news online, watch some TV that relaxes me while I have my coffee. The last few hours of the day are also spent with a nice drink.

Every time we spend time together, it’s an adventure… We go to the beach, the zoo and take walks in nature parks. We go cycling and go on discovery journeys.

What’s life like as a single dad?
It is a humbling multitasking experience. I know Renee is my bedrock and priority. Jaime and I co-parent ― I get to see [Renee] every other day of the week. I especially treasure the time when she stays over on the weekend. I spend all our time together making memories and making sure Renee feels loved and is engaged. It requires a lot of multitasking but her smile makes it all worth it.

What are some of the father-daughter activities you’ll usually do with Renee
[Laughs] Oh my, it’s a long list! Every time we spend time together, it’s an adventure. We play-act a lot with her little pet shop characters. We go to the beach, the zoo and take walks in nature parks. We go cycling and go on discovery journeys. We both love animals and that, I guess, bonds us even more! We can talk about animals for hours! We also love camping! Every other week, we pitch a tent at home and pretend that we are camping in the outdoors.

How do you share your parenting responsibilities with Jaime?
Jaime and I co-parent, so we talk and communicate fully because Renee is our top priority. Renee stays with me on weekends.

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What are the positive things that Jaime brings out in Renee?
Her love for art and music has made Renee interested in drawing and singing. I really enjoy singing pop songs with Renee. She knows the words to so many songs! We have car-aoke sessions where we blast songs [in the car] and sing at the top of our voices just for the fun of it.

What kind of dad are you — a cool and laid-back dad or a strict parent?
I can be strict when the situation calls for it. But other than that, I would like to think I’m the cool, fun dad and everything in life is an adventure [laughs].

“I’m a firm believer of the saying, ‘spare the rod, and spoil the child’.”

Who do you turn to for parenting advice?
Oh! Allan Wu is my go-to person. The man is a treasure trove of parenting experience. We share stories and he has just been so helpful over the last two years with parenting advice.

What are your thoughts on caning as a form of discipline?
I’m a firm believer of the saying, ‘spare the rod, and spoil the child’. However, I only very occasionally use it as a deterrent.
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How has Renee been coping with school?
She’s doing well and I’m really proud of her. She was recently named Star of the School Term ― she was happy and I was beaming with pride!

Does Renee take tuition classes?
Renee does need some help with her Chinese, so I arranged for Chinese tuition once a week. I’m very focused on a fun way of learning — to me, grades aren’t everything, I feel that the process is more important. We are very fortunate that Renee’s teacher shares my philosophy and takes on learning in a fun, interactive way.

“I’m very focused on a fun way of learning — to me, grades aren’t everything.”

Any advice for with our single-parent readers?
Your children won’t stay little for very long. Enjoy and soak up every single moment.

What dating advice will you give Renee when she’s grown up?
Love is about respect and compromise. Make sure you find someone who can offer you that. But on a serious note, no dating till 40 [laughs]!

How different is dating now that you’re a single dad?
Being a single dad, I’m very upfront about the relationship with my daughter and how I hope my partner would accept and love Renee. We come as a package ― it’s a bit like buy one, get one free [laughs]!

Complete these sentences:

The one superpower I wished I had is… The ability to read minds.

The one thing I’d tell my 16-year-old self is… Nothing. Or to have better hair! The mistakes I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learnt made me who I am today.

My go-to comfort food is… KFC!

The one thing people don’t know about me is… I drink five cups of coffee a day to keep up with the hustle!

What would make you feel that you’ve done a good job as a parent?
As long as Renee is happy, healthy and fulfilled, my job as a parent would be completed! I don’t require her to have the best grades or be top of the class. I just want her to remain curious, stay kind, treat others with respect, all while remembering to have fun!

Photos: Daniel Ong/Instagram and Jaime Teo/Instagram

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