Think of Asian shoe design and the "rags-to-riches" story of Malaysian footwear maestro Jimmy Choo comes to mind.
But Singaporean Elizabeth Tan was hesitant to join her father's footwear business, because she'd seen him struggle to keep it afloat through tumultuous times at the turn of the century, when Asia was hit by a financial crisis and then the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak.
"I saw the ups and downs," Tan told CNBC in an interview. "I wanted to do something different."
Tight finances put her plans for pursue a degree overseas on hold. Instead, Tan studied history at the National University of Singapore, working part-time jobs including selling credit card plans, mobile phone plans and organizing events, to put herself through four years of study.
In the end, though, family ties lured her away from the alternate career path she sought. Tan, who grew up around shoes, said she eventually saw the potential in the family business and decided to give it a shot, armed with a few ideas of her own.
"Family is something that calls back to you," Tan said.
Tan is now managing director at Heatwave Shoes, a mid-market ladies footwear business that was founded by her father, Tan Guan Huat, in 2001.
She joined the company as a business coordinator in 2008 but soon set her sights on building a global brand, after realizing Heatwave had strong following among young Singaporean working women with penchant for heels - something that was hardly a Singapore-specific phenomenon.
"I think branding is something that was very new to my dad because he came from a generation where it was all about products and pricing," Tan said. "When I came on board, I was able to bring value in that aspect, by knowing what our generation wants, what kind of shopping experience they want."
Her father is a self-taught shoe designer, who spent nearly two decades designing and manufacturing shoes for local brands such as Tangs Studios. Now, having handed the business's reins over to his daughter, he trains the company's new generation of production and design staff.
The company has 56 stores in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia and further afield in markets such as Dubai and Qatar. The shoes are designed in-house and produced in factories in Malaysia that are either owned by Tan's family or ones that exclusively produce Heatwave products. Tan said this allowed Heatwave to better maintain quality control and quickly adapt to customer feedback.