Tan Ikaxa realised his passion for photography during his teenage years and has worked hard to overcome a multitude of tribulations to fulfil his dream of becoming a professional photographer. Speaking to Top 10 of Malaysia, Tan Ikaxa, CEO of Enya Mareine Wedding Gallery Sdn Bhd, reveals the tale of his rise to the top and shares his two cents worth with budding entrepreneurs.

Tan Ikaxa worked for a year upon completing his secondary studies to afford classes at The Royal Photographic Society in UK so he could become a professional photographer. Realising the need for a camera, his loving mother borrowed money from a friend so Ikaxa could attain a second hand camera for his studies. “Till today, that camera is still in good condition,” Ikaxa shares.

Forming Enya Mareine Wedding Gallery Sdn Bhd in 2010, Ikaxa started offering pre-wedding photography services. His company has since expanded to include wedding and bridal consultations, professional make-up and customized designer gowns. “Initially, I wanted a different style of pre-wedding photography, allowing customers to have their own concept with our creativity to match,” Ikaxa states.

However, upon reading a publication titled, Cosmic Magazine by his mentor Daisaku Ikeda, President of Soka Gakkai International (SGI), he realised something. “We shouldn’t just capture beautiful moments. Our greater mission is to protect a couple’s love and happiness,” he explains. The thought prompted him to release a book titled, Dialogue with Happiness. “Each collection of photographs in it delivers a love story from the start, reminding couples to cherish each other,” Ikaxa adds.

His team also contributes immensely to his company’s success. “They’ve been with me for over 15 years. I am thankful that they never gave up on me,” Ikaxa shares heart-warmingly, adding that he once couldn’t afford their salaries for 8 months. Additionally, his leadership style is based on interdependency. “There is a Chinese proverb translating to ‘fish and water thinking’. Fish cannot live without water and water without fish brings little value to life. Similarly, our team members complement each other,” Ikaxa explains, adding that helping to keep relationships strong is what drives him forward. “Unhappy marriages are common nowadays. We want clients to be able to communicate with each other and safeguard their marriages, so we plan to conduct more seminars on the importance of happiness and family,” Ikaxa shares.

As for company milestones, he cites Enya Mareine’s quick expansion rate. “We started off at my house, eventually moving into an 800 sq ft unit. Then, we upgraded to an 8,000 sq ft bungalow and a year later, opened our first KL branch. Now, we have 20,000 sq ft of space and 283 international awards,” Ikaxa elaborates. Nevertheless, even with his passion for photography, creativity is a challenge. “Innovating new ideas is challenging but we keep up with trends whilst maintaining tradition. Once, a couple requested for ‘in the war’ concept but their parents disagreed, so we satisfied both parties with ‘The Romance Love of War’,” Ikaxa adds.

Ikaxa is grateful for life experiences that have taught him a lot about himself and his greatest achievement is the ability to help others. “My greatest achievement is being able to continue the company’s mission to plant and share the seed of happiness within each couple,” Ikaxa explains.

For someone who has risen above many challenges, his advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is humbling. “I’m still learning. In life, everyone makes mistakes but the most important thing is to learn and grow from them” he advises, adding that he would like to sincerely apologise to his business partner whom he may have hurt during his earlier days when he was young and impulsive. “I’d also like to express my deepest thanks to my business partners, Dato Liew and Dato Ng for their continuous support,” says Ikaxa at the close of the chat session.