Denise Taojo Kaur, Living DNA

Denise Taojo Kaur, Living DNA | Interview | Travelshopa

Setting up the house as a newlywed prompted founder of Living DNA (formerly Departures & Arrivals), Denise Taojo Kaur, to open a shop with the concept of a well-travelled home in 2015. After a few years in the business of retail, Denise felt she wanted to focus on the mindfulness aspect of the collections she creates and curates. With a new brand and store location, Living DNA takes pride in telling the stories of the pieces being made by real people, and the love and attention that goes into them. Denise is a firm believer in consciousness and wants us all to feel a deeper connection with what we buy, affordably. Here we chat with Denise about her journey as a retailer.

How did you get started in retail?

I was once in a banking job. Setting up the house as a newlywed couple, my husband and I struggled to find home furnishing that’s carefully designed, made with substance and yet affordable. So we made use of frequent business trips to stuff our suitcases with unique pieces. It sparked the idea of opening an online store for conscious design lovers like us.

What inspired you to relaunch your brand?

I enjoy the multicultural provenance of our rugs and homeware, and the Departures & Arrivals concept of a well-travelled home will continue to be our signature look. But I felt a stronger need to emphasize the mindfulness aspect of our collection. This is what the new brand Living DNA is all about. We tell the story of our pieces being made by real people, and the love and attention that goes into it. Being conscious of what we consume and buy creates more joy.

If asked to describe your store to someone unfamiliar with it, what would you say?

Homeware with soul and substance. Inspired by culture, but easily matched with the modern home.

What makes your store unique?

The way we apply modern colours on traditional handiwork. Our homeware comes from all over the world, yet they don’t look like a typical tourist souvenirs. They are elevated pieces. They blend harmoniously with your modern furniture.

We don’t stop at looks. The piece has to be produced in a special method or with a special material. Objects with stories are enjoyed for a longer time. Buying consciously hones us to live mindfully.

Who are your customers?

People come to us when they want something unique yet goes beyond trends. They’re the kind of people who aspire to live mindfully by careful lifestyle choices.

You now focus purely on rugs and homewares. Can you tell us a bit about the brands you curate? And why?

Since our boutique first opened in 2015, we often encounter customers who want a rug but don’t know how to select one. They share with us they’re looking for something extraordinary at the same time reasonably priced. And then they always end up going home happy with one (or more) DNA rug. That’s when we realized we could really offer people a valuable service by being their one-stop rug shop, complemented with homeware not found anywhere else.

What are your best selling products?

Rugs definitely, including the low maintenance bath carpets. Next bestselling are the Japanese clocks. They embody the Japanese perfectionism and love for natural materials.

Where do you look for inspiration?

Travel! I am blown away by traditional craft especially in fabrics, everyday practical objects and even food preparation. I get a high from stumbling upon colour combinations that challenge my conventions. Elements of architecture like tiles, doors and windows are a wealth of patterns. As I move across climates, I pay attention to the vegetation and changing landscape. When I like a particular hotel, restaurant or house, I try to understand what makes it different and make a mental note of it.

How has the Internet/digital marketing impacted your business?

Thanks to the growing awareness of how products are being made and the shareability of information on social media, people are now more conscious than ever that their buying choices count. It started with fashion and beauty, now with homeware as well people are beginning to understand why natural materials and earth-friendly production methods are not cheap but are the only way forward.

What do you think the future holds for your store and shopping in Singapore?

Craft will endure. The faster our technological advances will be, the more we will crave for authenticity, for the human connection. Sustainable materials will not just be a trend, it will be a necessary way of living. We’re excited because these are the very values we stand for.

If you could give one piece of advice to the youth, or someone starting out in their career, what would you say?

Nurture all your interests, even though they don’t seem to connect at first. Once they do, you become a truly unique creative force. Every experience in life builds you up for the next – no experience ever goes to waste.

Denise Kaur, Living DNA | Interview | Travelshopa
Denise Kaur, Living DNA | Interview | Travelshopa
Denise Kaur, Living DNA | Interview | Travelshopa
Denise Kaur, Living DNA | Interview | Travelshopa

Michelle Boyce, Maissone

Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa

Photographs by Maissone

Since 2015 Maissone has been a leading the way within a cluster of some of Singapore's coolest cafes and independent boutiques in Tiong Bahru. The contemporary homeware store offers a beautifully curated mix of scandi and tribal pieces that are sure to impress. After recently winning an international retail award, New Zealand-born founder Michelle Boyce shares her retail journey and let us in on her healthy obsession with design and interiors.

How did you get started in retail? What were you doing before you opened your store?

Before I opened Maissone I travelled and cared for my children. I saw a large gap in the Singapore market for contemporary homeware and that’s how Maissone came about. We started in 2014 as an online business based at home and in 2015 opened a showroom, soon after we moved within the same street to a larger location.

What inspired you to open your store?

The love of interiors inspired me. Friends would always ask where I got unique items I collected on my travels. There was an unmet consumer need for contemporary homeware and bedlinen in Singapore and decided to use my drive and passion to make Maissone what it is today.

If asked to describe your store to someone unfamiliar with it, what would you say?

We are located in the unique and diverse district of Tiong Bahru. We carry various brands from across the globe with product ranging from Scandinavian to tribal designs. Maissone is a virtual business card and portfolio for the company – its online home.

What makes your store unique?

We only carry brands that are not readily available in Singapore that are sourced globally. We also pride ourselves on working with small businesses and integrating strong international brands, with a local presence so that our customers have the best of everything available to them in one place.

Congratulations on winning IHA 2017-2018 Global Innovation Award for Retail Excellence South-Eat Asia. What does the win mean to you?

Thank you! Winning the IHA Global Innovation Award for Retail Excellence in South East Asia has definitely been one of our biggest achievements. The award is both a meaningful accomplishment for myself and the team, as well as an important milestone for the brand. For a small business, recognition on an international scale based on innovation and excellence is a significant success for us. Exposure at a global level has been beneficial for brand strengthening and awareness.

You have customers (in Singapore and beyond) that have been shopping at your store since it opened. Who are your customers?

Our customers are both expats and locals of all age groups. Some customers have been visiting since Maissone opened and some are brand new. We love meeting new people, from all walks of life and catching up with our regular customers when they stop by.

Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa
Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa
Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa
Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa

You have a very minimalist / Scandi aesthetic. Can you tell us a bit about the brands you curate? And why?

We prefer to work with boutique brands we know personally. It’s really important to us to support other small businesses; we like to be familiar with the faces behind the brands and foster close relationships. With our expansion over the last few years, we have been working with more European brands while still actively sourcing in Australasia. With regards to our aesthetic, we keep away from mainstream materials like plastic and prefer well-made ceramic, wood, metal and glass products designed by industry creatives.

What are your best selling products?

Products from all lifestyle categories – Most of our product is unique and sourced in small quantities, so it never hangs around for too long!

Where do you look for inspiration?

We look for inspiration firstly and most importantly – through feedback from our customers. We also consult social media, books, magazines, travelling and trade fairs. We travel several times a year to trade fairs around the globe to source unique product, gather inspiration and check out seasonal trends.

How has the Internet impacted your business?

The Internet allows us, as retailers, to connect with potential customers and to express our brand in new ways. A synergy of online and brick and mortar allows us to reach our customers through different outlets. Technology is the way forward and it is transforming our customer’s shopping experiences.

What do you think the future holds for your store and shopping in Singapore?

Millenials are currently dominating the workforce in Singapore. Given their upbringing in a digital age we have to adjust and evolve to keep up the pace and needs of our consumers. It is important to evolve with technology and not rely on one particular platform.

If you could give one piece of advice to the youth, or someone starting out in their career, what would you say?

You need to be a motivated thinker and a self-starter. You really have to invest your time and effort in your passion to make it succeed. Perseverance is key.

Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa
Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa
Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa
Michelle Boyce, Maissone | Interview | Travelshopa

Shop The Story

Leather Butterfly Chair | Maissone | Travelshopa

Maissone

Leather Butterfly Chair

Landscape Throw | Maissone | Travelshopa

Maissone

Landscape Throw

Meraki Body Lotion Cotton Haze | Maissone | Travelshopa

Maissone

Meraki Body Lotion Cotton Haze

Explore more about Maissone
Maissone
38 Eng Hoon Street
169783 Tiong Bahru
Singapore

 

Stefanie Hauger, Vanilla Home

From industrial designer to interior architect to luxury retailer to fine artist, Stefanie Hauger clearly loves to work on new techniques and push boundaries. Here she talks to us about her journey, works, VANILLA HOME and retail in Singapore.

Stefanie Hauger, Vanilla Home | Interview | Travelshopa

Stefanie Hauger describes her life as an immersion into the world of art and design in one form or another. Her lifestyle emporium in Singapore, Vanilla Home, was a natural extension of her work as an interior architect. The retail space is a platform for the artists and designers that Stefanie has curated since 2002.

While Stefanie’s brush with art has been life long – her mother was a painter and she studied fine art at college – she felt that she should give herself the opportunity to explore this field in more depth. She explains it to be “a loud calling”. And in 2011 Stefanie followed that inner voice by returning to fine art. She has spent the last six years depicting many of her experiences in the works she creates, whether it be paintings or sculptures.

Her experimentation with techniques won her the prestigious 2013 UOB Southeast Asian and Singapore Painting of the Year awards, and her work has been shown in numerous exhibitions, fairs and solo exhibitions. Evidently, she is not afraid to push boundaries in any form.

Stefanie Hauger, Vanilla Home | Interview | Travelshopa

How would you describe your signature style?

I have always worked with very fluid paint to see where I can push boundaries with the medium. Years of experimentation have led to a particular style which is called Biomorphic Abstract – this describes living organisms set into an abstract context in art. Much of my work now revolves around nature, texture and life on a molecular or microscopic level.

How did this come about?

Years of experimenting with differing liquidities of paint and how they react with one another led to the fine tuning of certain techniques. I always want to push to the next level, never be stuck in just one technique, constantly find new ways to move people with a work of art.

My dominant art influences are the abstract impressionists who broke through the traditional confines of painting to show us new possibilities, not without their critics, and who thus opened up new realms of acceptance within the artworld. They also invented the ‘all-over painting’ where an entire canvas is filled with the same rhythm or texture or technique which is very much the way I work.

Stefanie Hauger, Vanilla Home | Interview | Travelshopa

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished / Stefanie Hauger

What’s your favourite subject to paint?

Nature, texture and living things in an abstract form. For the last 10 months I have also been working with combining the canvas with metal fashion spikes which creates a multi-dimensional, interactive experience that is a heady mixture of the fluid art and the rigidity of the metal.

What types of techniques have your explored?

I have explored many different techniques, most notably thick impasto paintings and paintings that are created purely through manipulation of the canvas instead of using a brush. In fact I generally use a brush only to mix the paint, after that it is up to my physical interaction with the canvas that determines the outcome. It is sometimes like a dance and other times like a wrestling match.

What do you do when you feel uninspired?

I am rarely uninspired, I don’t really get artist’s block. If anything I have to stop myself going off in too many different directions, I am constantly having to pull myself back to what I am currently working on and sticking to one theme and a series. But when I am stuck I read about artists that inspire me and this gets me going again pretty fast.

Stefanie Hauger, Vanilla Home | Interview | Travelshopa

Adopt the pace of nature… / Stefanie Hauger

Art is a huge discipline; it is hard, hard work and requires massive concentration and perseverance. And there are many times when the results are not what one might have wished for and a ‘good artist’ will work through that with courage and determination and perhaps a small, healthy dose of self-belief. Fearlessness is another important factor in being a good artist, without that you will never make an unexpected stroke or think outside of the box.

Who are your top three creatives to follow on Instagram?

I love following @agathodee, @siemonandsalazar and @indiamahdavi… but there are hundreds more of course (@nacitopak for instance, he is a ceramics lecturer in Turkey)

How do you curate brands for Vanilla Home?

We select brands based on quality, craftsmanship, timeless elegance and their particular artisanal style. In other words we buy from small manufacturers and workshops who make a few products to an exceptional level, people who share our deep passion for the finest things in life that a customer will keep for life.

In your opinion, what’s the future state of the retail industry in Singapore?

For Singapore to once again become the premier shopping destination in South East Asia will require a huge joint effort from both the Government and retailers. The Government need to regulate high retail space rental costs, lower manufacturing costs in the industrial sector and address the very high number of shopping malls in Singapore all selling the same thing and offering a very similar experience.

Retailers are already doing their part. In order to survive against increased rivalry regionally, constant competition from eCommerce giants and the drastic change in demographics of shoppers they are embracing the power of digital and will be providing customers with a truly unique first-class 360-degree shopping experience. Success in the future will be had by those who provide the very best customer service, deliver a customer experience that seamlessly moves between online and bricks and mortar and by those who sell exciting, exclusive, good quality, well priced products. Sounds easy!

My advice for aspiring creatives is: fearlessness, courage, hard work, discipline and perseverance. Also train yourself to see the world through your ‘artist lens’, your interpretation and your mind’s eye, if you don’t take what you see around you too literally then your artistic self will have a chance to emerge. And don’t take yourself too seriously, sometimes when are having a real slump the best thing is to throw the painting on the floor and dance on it and see what happens next.

Stefanie Hauger, Vanilla Home | Interview | Travelshopa

Nature does not hurry… II / Stefanie Hauger

How would you describe the style/vibe of Singapore?

Singapore’s style is one of constant change due to it being a young country and a truly multicultural one. Singapore and Singaporeans are constantly adapting to incredibly fast changes made both to their urban landscape and population demographic. We’ve seen this lead to constant diffusion of new styles and creative hubs that need time to develop properly to become authentic cultural markers for Singapore. There is one constant however, and that is a Singaporean’s love for and affinity with luxury branded goods! A true marker of Singapore’s style.

Where is on the top of your travel bucket list?

At the top of my travel bucket list is actually India. I have never been even though my house is filled with Indian artefacts, textiles and furniture. Perhaps I have never gone because I know I would bring half of India home with me…

In 5 years you will find me…

probably doing exactly the same things I am doing now. I truly love everything I am involved in and have no desire for change.

Stefanie Hauger, Vanilla Home | Interview | Travelshopa

Ingeborg van der Hoek, Elements Concept

Meet the Indonesian furniture brand that is quickly making a mark in Singapore due to its affordable elegant tropical-style pieces. We chat with co-owner of ELEMENTS CONCEPT, Ingeborg Van Der Hoek, about what inspired the team to launch in Singapore, a new collection, and the exciting times that lie ahead for this sustainable brand.

Ingeborg van der Hoek | Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

When Ingeborg van der Hoek walked into one of Elements Concept’s Jakarta stores in June 2016, she immediately fell in love with the brand. Who can resist a standout collection of hand-woven homewares and furniture made with natural materials by talented craftsmen and women?

Elements Concept was founded in 2015 by Dutch designer Bastiaan Spil. The designer – who grew up in Indonesia – is no novice, coming from a family who has been making furniture and home accessories for many popular stores for over 30 years. Bastiaan, together with his team, is heavily involved in the design process and manages everything from sourcing raw materials to producing the pieces in his factories and workshops.

Today, Elements Concept has two stores in Indonesia, outfits cafes, restaurants, hotels and beach clubs all over Indonesia and exports products and franchises its concept to Europe, the US, Japan and Australia.

The team felt that Singapore could use a high quality, natural furniture brand that ties in with its yearlong tropical vibes. It didn’t take long before Ingeborg – who currently resides in Singapore – became the co-owner of Elements Concept.

Ingeborg tells us all about the positive reception the brand has received as she runs the Singapore branch and shares her all-time favourite pieces as well as new additions to look out for from the latest collection.

How did the Elements Concept come about?

The brand was founded in 2015 by Bastiaan Spil. Bastiaan is a Dutch designer who grew up in Indonesia. His parents moved there 30 years ago to start a furniture workshop with local craftsmen. Since then, they have been making furniture and home accessories for stores all over the world, including two of the most popular furniture and home decor stores in The Netherlands. In 2015, Bastiaan started his own brand under the name Elements Concept from this workshop, creating his own designs.

Who is behind Elements Concept and what roles do they play?

First of all, our talented craftsmen and -women of course! They are the ones making the fabulous pieces, all by hand. Then there is Bastiaan Spil. Bastiaan studied at the Art Academy and Economics & Law in The Netherlands before returning to Indonesia to use what he had learned to set up Elements Concept. Bastiaan designs the furniture and home accessories, runs the business (including two stores) in Indonesia, manages commercial projects (like hotels & restaurants) and exports to countries all over the world.

I am co-owner of the brand in Singapore. I run the Singapore branch, manage all sales & marketing, operations and projects. Before collaborating with Bastiaan I ran a tiny furniture business in Singapore, doing mainly custom made items on a very small scale.

How did you decide to be a part of Elements Concept?

In June 2016, after a tip from a friend in Singapore, I walked into one of the Elements Concept stores in Jakarta and immediately fell in love with the brand. I loved the natural feel of it, the tropical touch and just really gorgeous designs. Bastiaan and I met up for a coffee and decided there and then to work together.

Ingeborg van der Hoek, Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Founder, Bastiaan Spil

"I walked into one of the Elements Concept stores in Jakarta and immediately fell in love with the brand. I loved the natural feel of it, the tropical touch and just really gorgeous designs. Bastiaan (the founder of Elements Concept) and I met up for a coffee and decided there and then to work together."

Ingeborg van der Hoek, Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Elements Concept’s Jakarta store

What inspired the team to launch in Singapore?

We really felt that Singapore could use a high quality, natural furniture brand with a tropical vibe that is quite easy on the wallet.

Have you faced any challenges while launching the business in Singapore?

Up until now, it’s going quite smooth actually…

All items are made by craftsmen in your factories and workshops. How does this play a part in your design philosophy?

Yes, all items are handmade in our own workshop, which gives every single piece its own character. Though, a lot of the smaller rattan pieces are braided by craftsmen and –women at their homes and are collected once a week. This way they can stay with their families and earn a living at the same time.

The team is heavily involved in the design process. Tell us more about it from concept to finished product.

We keep our designs as close to nature as possible, using natural materials we source ourselves – like sustainable teak, rattan, bamboo, marble and brass – and authentic techniques. Good craftsmanship and only the best materials form the base for all our designs. We aim to finish a collection every three months, that’s the time it takes to create a new collection.

Elements Concept also furnishes many cafes, restaurants, hotels and beach clubs in Indonesia. How do you choose these projects/collaborations?

Correct, we are really proud of the projects we have done in Indonesia and actually we are also working on a few in Singapore as well. In these projects, we work together with interior designers who bring in a lot of creative ideas.

Ingeborg van der Hoek | Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa
Ingeborg van der Hoek | Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

"My old time favourite is the Paul Arm Chair, which was originally designed as part of our project for the Katamama Hotel (Potato Head Group) in Seminyak, Bali. Or is it the Straw Parasol…? Or the Palm Lantern…? Or the huge rattan pendant lamps…? So hard to choose!"

What are some highlights the brand has seen recently?

The launch in Singapore and the way the brand is welcomed here is a huge highlight. Also the collaboration within The Attaby Collective is something we’re really excited about.

Tell us about the collection. Do you have a favourite piece? Any exciting pieces/collections coming down the pipeline?

After a very successful launch of Elements Concept in Singapore in February of this year, it’s time to introduce the second collection to our enthusiastic customers in the little Red Dot in June. With this second collection, we continue to build on Elements Concepts principles of high-quality, beautifully handcrafted furniture and home decor made of the best materials in up-to-date designs for a price that doesn’t hurt your wallet too much.

New in this collection is the addition of a butler trolley, a perfect eye catcher in your interior. And big trendy plant pots to bring the green jungle in your house. Furthermore, Elements Concept added a wider variety of cabinets, dining tables, lounge chairs, sofas and accessories.

But my old time favourite is the Paul Arm Chair, which was originally designed as part of our project for the Katamama Hotel (Potato Head Group) in Seminyak, Bali. Or is it the Straw Parasol…? Or the Palm Lantern…? Or the huge rattan pendant lamps…? So hard to choose ; )

There are also some things we make just because we think it is cool. Like our unique Volkswagen van from the sixties completely covered in rattan. We are now working on a boat and in the process of building an Elements Villa in Lombok, which will function as a small retreat to relax and inspire.

Elements Concept is now available at TheAC (The Attaby Collective). How did this collaboration come to be?

I met the founder of TheAC, Claire Chahil (also the founder of the fashion brand Attaby), through a friend. Claire told me about her plans to collaborate with different independent brands to open a boutique department store where customers can discover a wide range of products from different brands. That sounded like a marvellous plan.

What can visitors expect to see in the store?

A thoughtfully curated selection of independent brands offering unique designs from women’s, men’s and kids’ fashion, active wear and jewellery to furniture and home accessories.

You can read more about TheAC here.

Shop The Story

Coffee Chair in Black | Ingeborg van der Hoek, Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Elements Concept

Coffee Chair in Black

Butler Trolley | Ingeborg van der Hoek, Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Elements Concept

Butler Trolley

Summer Baskets | Ingeborg van der Hoek, Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Elements Concept

Summer Baskets

Moambique Pot TerraII | Ingeborg van der Hoek, Elements Concept | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Elements Concept

Moambique Pot TerraII

Elements Concept is available at TheAC | 420 Joo Chiat Road Singapore 427641 and at these locations in Jakarta.

All images courtesy of Ingeborg Van Der Hoek.

Claire Chahil, TheAC

Imagine a boutique designed with Singapore’s tropical climate and lifestyle in mind. Meet TheAC. Find out how its founder CLAIRE CHAHIL is going beyond curating independent, local designers for this new retail space.

Located in the heart of Singapore’s historic enclave of Joo Chiat in a traditional Peranakan shophouse, The Attaby Collective (TheAC) is not your average multi-label boutique. It is a retail incubator featuring a curated selection of independent designers and brands.

What started as a pop up in 2016, this new retail space is now the permanent home of 11 fashion, home, kids, accessories, activewear and art brands. The space showcases familiar names like Elverd Designs, Eysse & I through to new arrivals like InZone5, Big Blue Company and Elements Concept. Each curated brand is independent with a focus on responsible and fair production practices. Their shared passion for what they do and design shines through in the fun and tropical-inspired setting.

We sat down with the founder Claire Chahil, who is also the owner and designer of Attaby, to hear all about the idea behindTheAC, her stand on retail in Singapore and what’s in store during challenging retail times in Singapore. 

I wanted a disruptive retail model that would offer the opportunity for emerging brands to grow their following, be housed in a permanent retail space but without the usual consignment model pitfalls.

 

Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

Image: Founder, Claire Chahil

As the fashion designer of Attaby, what triggered you open TheAc?

With over 10 years experience in fashion and retail, I wanted a disruptive retail model that would offer the opportunity for emerging brands to grow their following, be housed in a permanent retail space but without the usual consignment model pitfalls. Attaby sits within the collective as an in-house fashion label.

What has been the biggest challenge with being a creative in business?

I’ve always debunked the myth that creative practitioners are not natural business people. On the contrary, running a business is about finding solutions and putting ideas into practice every day, which is the remit of a designer. The biggest challenges in this context can become your biggest opportunities.

What’s next in store for you?

I’m planning on two levels at the moment. I have immediate plans to foster the existing group of brands and the current space because I absolutely love the energising feedback from our customers. I also have a secondary plan for the future of TheAC that is on a much larger scale, which is all in the strategy stage at the moment.

Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa
Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

In your opinion, what’s the current state of the retail industry in Singapore?

Retail can often be volatile and we can certainly see huge challenges both here and on an international level for many reasons. The traditional business models are being revised and TheAC is proud to be part of this disruption. Singapore has gone through a rapid Internationalisation project but now people are looking for a little more specialisation and something that is not so mass market. Our brand leaders are always actively engaged with our core customers and this is what leads us to success.

How do you think the situation will change in the future?

Many people talk about the death of traditional shops but I think people will always want to experience shopping as a leisure activity and feel the product before they buy. So the challenge is to make the traditional shop a desirable and inspirational place to visit. In this sense, the TheAC is not simply a shop. We are a boutique, a brand discovery centre and social space where we host events.

What advice would you share with aspiring store owners?

Firstly make sure you like your shop as you’ll be spending a lot of time there! You need to be proud of what you create to give it positive energy. With my business hat on I’d say do your research on what exactly you will offer in the marketplace and try to gather a following before you take the plunge.

Many people talk about the death of traditional shops but I think people will always want to experience shopping as a leisure activity and feel the product before they buy. So the challenge is to make the traditional shop a desirable and inspirational place to visit.

 

Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa
Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa
Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa
Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

How would you describe Singapore Style?

I think Singapore is a mix of city chic and beach resort – after all, it is a banking centre with a corporate edge yet is also a tropical island where flip flops (or thongs/slippers) and kaftans can be day wear. One thing I love is that you can dress in anything from a traditional sari to a pencil skirt and blouse or shorts and a t-shirt and people are perfectly accepting of this. Once I even found myself in full white tie dress eating noodles at a roadside hawker with hardly an eyebrow raised. I love that mix.

How has style changed in Singapore in the last few years?

There is a real confidence in local designers that has developed over the 6 years I’ve been here, which has changed the style landscape. More options exist at all levels of the market so people can dress according to their style aesthetic more easily. It’s an exciting time to be part of the Singapore fashion scene.

What’s the best time to visit Singapore?

Anytime is a good time to visit Singapore!

Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa
Claire Chahil, TheAC | Behind the Seams | Travelshopa

TheAc is located at 420 Joo Chiat Road Singapore 427641.
Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 8pm | Sunday, 11am – 3pm

All images courtesy of Claire Chahil and Louise Hill Design.

Leah Lambert, Glamorous Giving

Leah Lambert, founder of Singapore's fashion, accessories and homewares clearance sale event, Glamorous Giving, shares how it has evolved over the years, the reasons behind the event’s massive success; and what to look forward to as it takes on a bigger location and more brands than ever.

 

 

Leah Lambert, Glamorous Giving | Travelshopa

Who would have thought a clearance sale would emerge as one of Singapore’s most glamorous charity shopping events? Probably not Leah, who organised the first Glamorous Giving event in January 2014 – with just 15 brands. Today, the founder of Singapore-based jewellery label Stones that Rock, has a waiting list of companies wanting to participate in the clearance sale.

Back for its seventh edition on February 14 and 15, 2017, Glamorous Giving will host some of Singapore’s top independent local designers and boutiques. Shoppers will be able to snag great deals at irresistible prices – end of line, end of season and sample stock at up to 70% off and starting as low as $5. The brands will be selling their products in support of the Singapore Committee for UN Women.

We sat down with Leah to learn all about the new location at The Ballroom at Orchard Parade Hotel, some highlights and the brands to look forward to – plus some tips on how to make the most out of attending Glamorous Giving.

Let’s go back to the beginning. How did the idea behind Glamorous Giving come about?

Stones that Rock has always organised small clearance sales. At the end of 2013, we decided to make our sale bigger and promote it more broadly. At the same time, we thought it would be a fantastic idea to use the event as an opportunity to raise money for a cause we believe in and so began our partnership with the Singapore Committee for UN Women.

When did you decide to organise this event?

The first Glamorous Giving was held in January 2014 at a Black and White house in Ridley Park with the owner kindly agreeing to open her home to 15 brands and hundreds of bargain-hungry strangers. In organising the first event, we reached out to Renee Lodens, the Founder of Travelshopa to increase awareness of the event.

GG has seen a successful 3 years. Why do you think the event has been such a huge success?

I am very proud of the way the event has grown and become so popular with customers and vendors alike. I believe there are several reasons for this: firstly we raise money for an organisation that does immensely important work. We are very proud of our association with the Singapore Committee for UN Woman and clearly, people are happy to support such a worthwhile cause.

Secondly, reducing surplus stock can be a problem for small businesses, particularly in a limited market like Singapore. By creating a low cost of entry event for brands to sell their products, the brands, in turn, are able to offer bargain prices before they release their new collections.

Thirdly, the atmosphere is always fun and festive as it’s usually the first sale event for many vendors and shoppers after the big Christmas and summer holidays – so people are very happy to see one another and catch up.

Leah Lambert, Glamorous Giving | Travelshopa

Do you see a difference between the first and latest edition? If so, how has the event changed over the years?

After the success of the first GG, we moved the event to the Hollandse Club and doubled the number of vendors. We were able to offer a greater spread of brands and bargains, which meant shoppers really started to take notice of the event and even started planning their shopping around it, for example buying in September for Christmas. 

Vendors started to notice us and we began to get enquiries from brands wanting to participate. Now we have a waiting list of companies wanting to join us. We are also being approached by organisations wanting to be associated with the event, which in turn has allowed us to grow and reach more potential shoppers.

GG has been in support of the Singapore Committee for UN Women. How has the organisation benefitted from GG over the years?

Besides benefitting from the donation we give them after each event, which further funds the invaluable work they are doing with leadership development, economic independence, and helping women live lives free from violence and abuse, I think UN Women has benefitted from an increase in awareness across new segments of the population as well as an increase in membership.

Representatives attend each event and have the opportunity to talk to shoppers about the work the Committee does which encourages new membership.

Leah Lambert, Glamorous Giving | Travelshopa

The atmosphere is always fun and festive as it’s usually the first sale event for many vendors and shoppers after the big Christmas and summer holidays. People are very happy to see one another and catch up.

GG has moved to a new location at The Ballroom at Orchard Parade Hotel. Tell us about the new location.

After five fantastic GG events at the Hollandse Club, we thought it was time to grow the event and bring it “downtown” to Orchard Rd, hence the move to the newly renovated Ballroom at the Orchard Parade Hotel. 

The increase in space has meant we have been able to invite another 20 vendors to join us, which has broadened the mix so we now offer a really eclectic range of brands. The Hotel has also come on board as a sponsor, which we are delighted about, together with our other sponsors, Travelshopa, Expat Living, TTG Wines and Urban Remedy Asia.

What are some highlights of the upcoming seventh edition?

The opening night falls on Valentine’s Day, so we hope shoppers will kick off their evening with a quick “stop and shop” at Glamorous Giving where they can enjoy complimentary wine from our wine sponsor TTG Wines and canapés.

We’ll have great offers from our marketing partner Urban Remedy, free magazines from Expat Living and a host of brilliant bargains. Prices will start from $5 and many brands will be discounted by up to 70%.

What are some brands shoppers should look forward to?

It’s very difficult to choose as we are represented by so many wonderful brands but some of the crowd favourites are: Ria Shoes Menorca, Shiva designs Bespoke, Simply Silk, Desti Saint Handbags, Inzone5 and of course, Stones that Rock.

I know shoppers are going to really enjoy some of our newest partners including Bohemian, Base Athletica, Fair Price Antiques, Hacienda Blue and Anna Rainn.

Any advice for first-time attendees?

1. Save-the-date & clear your diary
2. Come early
3. Take your time
4. Bring cash
5. Bring a big bag
6. Make a list of all your favourite brands so you don’t forget to visit them

Leah Lambert, Glamorous Giving | Travelshopa
Leah Lambert, Glamorous Giving | Travelshopa

All images courtesy of Leah Lambert and Sandra Macheroux.

Click on the banner below to learn more about the participating vendors. 

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