It’s been said that all Singaporeans are foodies at heart. Fashion entrepreneur, Savina Chai is no exception. The intrepid traveller and founder of womenswear label, Eight Slate fondly cherishes her mornings spent at the hawker centre, tucking into a hearty breakfast of eggs, kopi and kaya on toast. A certified Singaporean indeed! A peek at her very flawless Instagram account tells us that she is also fond of luscious overflowing brunches and the minimal aesthetic that’s all the rage right now. Intrigued yet? Read on for her personal pick of brunch spots, local boutiques and chill hangouts in Singapore!
Singapore is a vibrant, fast-paced city with rich culture, dynamic people and delicious food. The streets are always busy, the people are driven, hardworking and warm towards one another.
Favourite thing about Singapore…
I love that we are a multi-racial country. It means that we are always supportive of one another, welcoming to everyone and most of all, diverse and yet unique in our own special way.
Least favourite thing about Singapore…
The weather… We have an eternal Summer due to the geographical location of our city, which is a downer for me because I love to dress according to the seasons.
Fun fact about the locals…
We are the fastest walkers with the fastest walking speed.
Best time to visit…
August. It is a cooler time of the year, which might not make a great difference if you live in a 4-season climate but it does not exceed 31 degrees (celsius) in the afternoon.
Must know local tidbit…
You must try our tropical fruits – durian, jackfruit, mangosteen etc.
What to pack…
SUNBLOCK, and I cannot stress how important it is to use a good hydrating sunblock that does not make your face shiny with facial oil but keeps the skin hydrated at the same time.
SINGAPORE BLACK BOOK
Gardens By The Bay – It is the core of our garden city with amazing garden sculptures and the most beautiful plants and exotic flowers.
Universal Studios – Every holiday or getaway is not made complete without a trip to an amusement park right? This takes you away for the day as it’s enchanting, thrilling and makes an exciting trip for the family.
Orchard Road – For the city girl like myself, Orchard Road is the best place to shop with everything and anything laid out along the same stretch of road. From departmental stores featuring local designers to big luxury designer houses, you will be shopping for hours to come.
Tiong Bahru – is a heartland that features many interesting cafes, Chinese restaurants and shophouses if you’re a foodie like me.
The Ritz-Carlton has the most amazing and beautiful marble toilet overlooking the whole of Marina Bay. Boutique hotels like The Club at Ann Siang and Lloyd’s Inn are affordable places nestled in the heart of Singapore. The interesting décor and design make them both Instagram-worthy stays.
I like multi-label boutiques such as Revolte x SheShops at Raffles City Shopping Centre, which features up and coming digital fashion labels, established local designers as well as Asian designers. Other stores include Robinsons at Heeren which curates great local labels.
Check out hawkers centres like Bedok 85 for minced meat noodles, Newton Circus or Maxwell Food Centre for seafood and a variety of local favourites. For restaurants, Margarita’s at East Coast is my favourite Mexican restaurant. With rich flavours and interesting textures in its foods, I always accompany it with their signature Margarita.
I love to visit our ArtScience Museum for different art installations, perfect for couples. I also like clubs like Kyo and Zouk for a night out with my girlfriends.
You can’t leave Singapore without…
Supporting local labels which can be found around Orchard. They are mostly in multi-label departmental stores or boutiques.
FOLLOW SAVINA CHAI ON INSTAGRAM @SAVINACHAI
IMAGES COURTESY OF SAVINA CHAI.
In a time when sophistication has becomes a main driver of people’s spending habits, independent retailers like Gifts Less Ordinary have found the winning formula. Bespoke and personalisation are key ingredients to this.
The idea for Gifts Less Ordinary came to its founder, Amy Read, when her best friend sent her a gift that contained a personalised baby blanket and a pair of shoes with her newborn son’s name imprinted on it.
“The gift came in a beautiful Tiffany-esque box. I was so overwhelmed with how beautiful and personal it was; it made me realise that we needed these kinds of gifts to be available in Asia,” says Amy.
First launched in Singapore and Hong Kong, Gifts Less Ordinary has recently expanded its reach to include Japan, Australia and the U.S. Its calling card remains its unique gifting concept — personalised luxury ‘giftables’ so popular, they’ve been picked up by The British Royal Family. Well if they’re fit for a royal, they’re good enough for us. We take 5 with Amy Read to understand how to take a independent brand and make it a global business.
I wanted everything to be personal and unique, from the products we deliver to the customer service we offer. I wanted to create an online shopping experience that was likened to shopping at a luxury boutique, handpicking only the most beautiful and unique products to feature on the site.
We are very selective about the brands we feature on the site, the most important thing for us is that the products are unique, and if they are bespoke and personalised, then even better.
Typical products on the site include luxury embossed cufflink cases, to personalised jewellery and beautiful embroidered blankets with a new baby’s name and date of birth.
We also try to find the very best locally themed gifts, whether it be typographic or personalised vintage maps, to redesigning historical objects of interest to create unique pieces of jewellery.
The Knack of Gifting
It’s all in the presentation and demonstrating that special someone means the world to you, whether it be by gifting an embossed necklace with a personal message or date on it, to gifting a new born a personalised blanket that they will treasure for life.
We focus on our niche. For us it’s all about personalisation or offering something unique. We really wish to own the gifting market, so we will always be the first brand someone would consider when trying to find something that is that bit different.
Secrets to Growth
Growth has firstly, come from our ability to scale and enter new markets quickly. Our operating model transcends all markets and we recognize that the demand for unique and personalised gifts is global and not just limited to Asia.
Secondly, for us it’s all about retention. We recognise that when we exceed a customer’s expectations in terms of delivery, quality and uniqueness of the products, that they will come back to us for all their gifting needs.
When we launched we had online stores in Singapore and Hong Kong. In June, we rolled Gifts Less Ordinary out to three new markets; Japan, Australia and the U.S.
When we launched our Australian online store, we issued a press release with a picture featuring one of the products on the site, a robe that was worn by Prince George when he met President Obama earlier this year. Within a day, a few major media publications including the Daily Mail, Women’s Weekly and Marie Claire featured the story, and within 5 minutes we had oversold that robe. We then had to go back to customers and apologise, which is when we recognised that we needed to sync stock and products uploads with some of our best selling partners, so this could never happen again.
When you start a business, you have to be open to change and resilient to the knocks you may encounter on the way.
I feel fortunate enough to work with an amazing team, who are as passionate and dedicated as me, and without them we wouldn’t be where we are now as a business.
It’s also important to make quality time for family and friends, as they are the ones who pick you up when it gets rough, and help you celebrate in the good times.
We are continuing to seek out the most unique brand and products we can feature on the site, whilst trying to increase brand awareness across all markets in which we operate. We will also continue to roll out to new markets over the course of the year, as we recognise in the international world we live in today, customers wish to ship globally.
We are also working with CrescoData to sync stock levels and product listings with Partners so we can better manage high surges in demand for select products.
SHOP THE STORY
Glamourised mirror selfies, top-down shots of latte art and fashion week paparazzi snaps… Instagram has its fair share of clichés. Sad that your Instagram feed doesn’t excite you anymore? Perhaps these inspiring individuals will bring back that much needed spark. Cue the creative geniuses who are constantly raising the bar on Instagram. We’re talking astonishingly multi-talented creatives with killer style. Fashion is their preoccupation and travelling their passion. Ahead, three stylish jetsetters you need to follow on Instagram.
Kim Jones | @kimcamjones
About. Kim Jones is the brains (and pretty face) behind fashion blog Miss Jones. The Brit-Filipino is a creative go-getter whose talents include everything from styling and writing to art directing, modelling and TV hosting. For that, she has been named as one of the top fashion and travel influencers in Southeast Asia with 523K followers on Instagram and growing.
What you can expect. Blessed with a natural style-savviness, Kim mixes and matches her outfits with finesse. Often dressed in local Filipino and Australian fashion, her #OOTD images could easily grace the covers of just about any magazine. Pair that with breathtaking travel snaps (we’re still gasping at those shots of Yosemite) and you start to see why she’s courted by a growing number of top brands.
Why we follow. Thanks to an insatiable lust for travel, Kim keeps us guessing where she’ll touch down next. Somehow she always manages to look impeccable and we can’t help but nix a few fashion tricks from this style maven.
Yoyo Cao | @yoyokulala
About. Born in Macau but based in Singapore, Yoyo Cao is a fashion force to be reckoned with. The streetstyle muse’s unique and head-turning looks have been captured and documented all over the world – most notably by Scott Schuman, The Sartorialist himself. She’s also the founder of cult fashion boutique Exhibit, whose second collection showed at Singapore Fashion Week 2015.
What you can expect. Leave it to Yoyo to keep our sartorial senses spinning. Her steady presence at all the major fashion weeks provides fashion observers with a constant channel of inspiring looks to model themselves after. She is a master at mixing high and low, expertly infusing designer items with a streetwear edge and is particular adept at balancing the masculine with the feminine.
Why we follow. We like someone who has fun with fashion and Yoyo’s dressing is playful and irreverent at times while being fierce and feminine at others. Try as hard as we might, we just can’t keep up with this savvy fashionista.
Marianna Jamadi | @nomadic_habit
About. The very definition of the word ‘nomad’, Marianna Jamadi leads a life most of us can only dream of. The photographer and creative storyteller is one half of El Camino Travel — a travel company peddling authentic travel experiences with depth and soul. The Finnish-Indonesian has backpacked around the world, documenting her travels through emotionally charged stories and vivid imagery.
What you can expect. Expect to be whisked away to faraway destinations like Colombia, Nicaragua and Mexico City. Life through the lens of Mari is one of wild abandon, yet fortifying, uplifting and incredibly real.
Why we follow. Marianna’s stunning images surge with an incredible life force both warm and magnetic. Not to mention, Mari has got the fashion nomad look down pat (She swears by Matter Prints pants and scarves).