10 Local Bespoke Artisans (Part I)

From the craze over recent and upcoming flea markets, farmers’ markets and art fairs organized by The Local People, Public Garden, Naiise and so on, it is hard to deny that local bespoke artisans and their products are not only gaining more recognition from Singaporeans ourselves, but also, gaining grounds in various local industries. From food and beverages to leather goods companies, they have been attracting countless fans and followers, receiving plenty of good reviews, appearing on feature articles of various magazines and newspapers. What made their products so popular and attractive? Well, not only do most of them insert in local flavours into their products, they also inject creativity and lots of hardwork into them. In fact, as a bespoke artisan, most of their products are handmade and also, made locally. Yes, each of their products contain their efforts, their creativity and probably, even a story behind it. Yet, besides going “awwww” at their products and purchasing them, how many of us really know the artisans, their stories and their hardwork behind these products?

We unravel to you part 1 of our journey of local bespoke artisans – their stories, their hardwork, their products:

1. Geargina (Founder and Director of Printstone Pte Ltd)

printPRO650Q: Please share with us a short introduction and 1 fun fact about yourself.

A: I am the Founder and Director of PrintStone Private Limited and we are a company that does 3D printing and commercial prints. One thing you will notice about me is that my name is spelt wrongly ‘Geargina’ instead of ‘Georgina’. The story behind is this – my parents did not check the birth certificate when the nurse was typing in my name and the father’s handwriting is not what I would call ‘readable’ .

Q: What was your inspiration or motivation to set up your own business?

A: Earlier this year , I was at the crossroads of my career deciding if I should continue climbing the corporate ladder or take the leap of faith to start something which I can call my own. It was simply a thought and it wasn’t enough to prompt me into action. It was an accident that happened to a close friend of mine that spurred me and affirmed me that life is short and that we should live life courageously, not just comfortably. Deciding which business to go into came easy since my family has been in the traditional printing trade for over 20 years. Yet,  I wanted to focus on something more modern and fun and I recall my dad talking about 3D printing the year before. With that in mind, I took a flight to New York and visited a 3D printing conference held there, did some research and decided this was the right time to do something that I am familiar with and also have ample room for creativity and fun.

printpic650

Q: What are the hardships you have faced and who or what have been your greatest support and motivation all along?

A:  Starting a business comes with its challenges both mentally and financially. This is especially true since I was in a corporate environment for 5 years. Transiting from a monthly salary to not knowing when your next paycheck will come in scares me, and at one point I did question if I have made the right decision. It helps to be surrounded with like-minded entrepreneurs who understand your struggles and challenges. I made really good friends who went through the same experiences as me when they were starting up and we encouraged each other to keep our spirits up! Educating the public what 3D printing is and what it is capable of doing takes time, which is why we also host 3D activities for events. Seeing and experiencing the machine give them a better understanding of the technology. It is quite different from mainstream printing where your end product is just a click of a button, there is more work to be done in 3D printing. I am fortunate to have very supportive family and friends who not only gave me moral strength and support, but also started recommending my business to their contacts. This helped kick start my business despite the fact that I have not done my official grand opening or much publicity for that matter.  My biggest motivation is to work towards a life like no others in the future, and that hard work is needed to achieve that desired outcome.

Q: What are your future plans for this business and what you hope to achieve for this business?

A: We plan to expand into other types of materials such as wood and flexible materials. We will also be partnering other 3D printers to develop products which are cost effective and appealing to the consumer market. On the commercial note, we recently pushed out a type of light-able poster (only .035cm thick) which allows advertisers /marketers the ability to choose where the audiences should focus on the poster. For example if the focus is the company logo, we are able to selectively light up only the logo. For PrintStone, we hope to achieve not just being recognize as a local brand, but also to go global.

Q: Any shoutout to the readers?

A: Think of Printing, Think of PrintStone.


 

     2. Ng Wei Lieh (Founder of Infuusa)

infuusaPRO650Q: Tell us more about yourself Wei Lieh.

A: I’m a product designer by day and start up entrepreneur after work.  I also teach spin (indoor cycling) once a week.  In short, I keep myself extremely busy.

Q: What was your inspiration or motivation to start up your own business?

A:  I was frustrated by the lack of choices in exercise hydration when I taught spin classes. Students drank either plain water or sugary sports drinks in my class.This was crazy because a sports drink had too many calories and chemicals; drinking it during class was like ‘driving a Ferrari to buy groceries’. Water on the other hand, just didn’t taste very good. I set out to solve this problem by creating a beverage that was refreshing, low in calories and made with natural ingredients. After lots of experimentation, I designed a cold-brewed tea that could be made without hot water and infused in minutes – just pop a sachet into a water bottle, shake and drink in minutes. My students loved it, so that was how Infuusa was born.

infuusaPIC650Q: What are the hardships you have faced and who or what have been your greatest support and motivation all along?

A: The hardest thing is social pressure unknowingly created by friends and family (who are not entrepreneurs) but who try to give you advice. Let me explain. I find questions like ‘So when are you going to retire?’, ‘Have you recouped your initial cost?’ and ‘Why are you working so hard for such risk?’ stressful to deal with.  It’s even worse when these questions comes from close friends and loved ones. This is because the answer to the questions are ‘Likely never’, ‘No’ and ‘It’s the challenge’. Moreover, countless conversations with non-entrepreneurs just let me realized that they don’t understand this. I feel much more comfortable talking to other start up entrepreneurs because they understand what you are going through. My wife has been a great source of support and motivation. This is because she is also starting up her own business at the same time!

Q: Who are your targeted customers?

A: My customers are mostly women who are active, love staying fit and who believe there are no short cuts to great health. (Infuusa is not a detox tea)

Q: What are your thoughts on Singapore’s bespoke artisan industry?

A: Small but growing. This is because of Singaporean consumers becoming extremely savvy and realizing that local producers, makers and designers can create outstanding products that are good value for money. Of course, we all are still learning and improving as we go along, but I’m very grateful for Singaporeans who are now starting to judge a product for what it is versus where it came from.

Q: Any shoutout to the readers?

A: Ladies, Infuusa is sugar-free, anti-oxidant packed and helps you hydrate more. It’s great for after a workout or even to help you drink more water. Try natural, better hydration! In addition, I am introducing new flavours at the end of the year (check out infuusa.com in Dec!) Not to forget, I will be rolling out international shipping in early 2015 and marketing my product globally.


 

3. Janine Campbell (Founder of Nutteree)

nutPRO650Q: Let’s start with a short introduction and 1 fun fact about yourself.

A:  TV Producer by day and nut butter maker by night! When I’m not doing either of those things, I can usually be found gaming, upside down in a yoga studio or outdoors with a hula hoop.

Q: What was your inspiration or motivation to set up this business?

A:  About a year ago, I discovered that I had developed an intolerance to peanuts. When I eat them or products that contain them, I feel nauseas and quite bloated within minutes. Having eaten peanut butter on bread for years, I always figured that it was my gluten intolerance that was causing me to feel ill. Eventually, I realized that it that it was the peanut butter too. Thus, the search for alternatives began. I tried a few of the other butter options on the market but couldn’t find a taste I liked. Besides, the products available were quite expensive so I decided to make my own and things kind of happened naturally from there.

nutpic650Q: What are the hardships you have faced and who or what have been your greatest support and motivation all along?

A: It took a lot of courage on my part to finally put my nut butter on sale. I was really nervous to put myself out there (mainly because taste is such a subjective thing) but with the encouragement of friends and family, I shut my eyes, took the leap and here I am! Nutteree has been so well-received in general and I feel extremely lucky to be on this nut butter project. My entire family has been really supportive throughout  this whole process and were my constant guinea pigs as I perfected my recipes. Not forgetting, my husband – he’s the other pair of hands in Nutteree. He’s been there from the start, working on new ideas with me, encouraging me, helping out in the kitchen and designing our packaging and website.

Q: Who are your targeted customers?

A: So far, my customers range for young kids to the elderly and I love it. My favourite part of markets is watching people’s reactions when they try Nutteree for the first time. It makes me happy to be able to bring a smile to someone else’s face when they eat the food I’ve made.

Q: What are your thoughts on Singapore’s bespoke artisan industry?

A:  It’s growing every day. There are so many different kinds of products that you can find made right here in Singapore. And now that I’ve become a part of this industry, I’m even more aware of what’s around me. I’ve also taken the time to try other Made-in-SG products and I think they’re amazing!

Q: What are your future plans for this business and what you hope to achieve for this business?

A: That’s a work in progress. You’ll just have to see!  But in the short term, I hope to release a new flavour early next year. Am still working on the recipe so it’s a bit of a secret. Follow me on instagram.com/nutteree to find out what I’m up to next!


 

4.Ros and Juu (Founders of Operation Overhaul)

overhaulPRO650Q: Tell us more about yourselves

A:  We are Operation Overhaul (www.operationoverhaul.com), a craft-focused startup by Juu and Ros. We mainly run a website sharing DIY tutorials and craft inspirations, hoping to get more people interested in the craft and DIY culture. Our products are all designed and handcrafted by us. At the same time, we also offer craft services for events or workshops.

Q: What are the hardships you have faced and who or what have been your greatest support and motivation all along?

A: The hardest part for us is the fact that we started out from zero, with completely no business knowledge or help from anyone. We more or less stumbled into it, so it kind of made us felt like we were at a disadvantage at the start. Yet, it also really forced us to learn and find out how to do a lot of things on our own. You really learn from doing, so it isn’t too bad after all.

Q: Who are your targeted customers?

A: Our customers usually range from age 18 to 30s, mainly because this is the range we can target through our website and social media. However, we’ve observed that taking part in fleas and holding workshops really helps to extend our range of targeted customers! We get parents who come to buy accessories from us for their kids, or even workshop participants in their 50s. It’s very satisfying to see people of all ages enjoy and appreciate craft as much as we do!

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetQ: What are your thoughts on Singapore’s bespoke artisan industry?

A: Over the last two years, the bespoke artisan industry has grown a lot in Singapore. I think it helps Singaporeans to discover and accept this industry, changing their views on it. In the past, it seemed that people were more prone to feel that a handcrafted item is not worth as much money because they had the impression that the quality or design is not comparable to a product that they would purchased from a more commercialised brand. However, with the growth of the industry, we find that consumers become more aware of the works of it and look to buying bespoke products because they come to realize how these products are more exclusive and unique. I think it helps them to recognize the thought and effort put into creating each product, hence slowly learning to appreciate them.

Q: Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs out there?

A: “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”—Vincent Van Gogh. The most important part of it is to take that first step and start doing things. The scariest part of anything is always the moment before you actually start doing it. You can’t expect immediate results, but if you stay focused and keep trying, you will see it grow eventually. Baby steps!

Q: Any shoutout to the readers?

A: Hi all, we have an online store in the works at the moment and we are pretty excited to launch it, hoping to reach out to all our international readers. Over the last year, we’ve been invited to hold craft sessions at several corporate events as well, and we are really hoping to do a lot more of those, be it corporate or private. Do follow us on instagram and facebook @operationoverhaul for latest updates or simply catch a glimpse of projects we are working on! Our next flea will be held at the Public Garden Christmas Markets at TripleOne Somerset on 6-7 December and 13-14 December. We will be selling our usual handcrafted accessories and some exclusive Christmas products, think festive buntings and cards. Do come round for your Christmas shopping or simply just to say hi. We won’t bite, I promise!

 


5.Teresa Foo (Founder of Balm Kitchen)

balmpro650Q: Firstly, a short self- introduction about yourself

A: I used to work in the building maintenance department and I didn’t find it challenging. Thus, I went on to study Graphic Design (Visual Communication) and enjoyed the designing process and seeing your own designs on printed mediums and products but the hours were super long. Then, I had to be a full time stay-at-home mum as I do not trust others to take care of my children and have struggled to be a freelance Graphic Designer juggling domestic duties and career. In the end, I stopped being a freelance designer and concentrated on being a mother. Over the years, I have improved on my culinary skills and became a vegan for a few years (not on a vegan diet anymore) and took more interests in cleaner, healthier living, which I started to make my own household products. From there, everything just rolls into place and Balm Kitchen was born eventually.

Q: What was your inspiration or motivation to set up this business?

A: I have always been into natural living and have been making my own products, especially household products like surface and floor cleaning liquid, laundry powder, vegetables and fruit wash, hand wash, hand sanitizer, etc. I was frustrated in finding a plant-based lip balm that is both affordable and in flavours that appeal to me. Since I can’t find it, I decided to do research on how to make my own lip-balm. I also want to be assured about what I am putting on my skin, especially my lips, as I will be ‘ingesting’ the lip balm on a daily basis. I want everyone to have access to a good lip balm (plant-based!) and have beautiful lips!

Q: What are the hardships you have faced and who or what have been your greatest support and motivation all along?

A:  It has to be the R&D process that is time consuming and not forgetting, expensive too! In addition, educating friends and family about using safe, effective plant-based skincare can be quite challenging. I have learnt that there will always be people who are willing to make a change and there are those who are not bothered and don’t share my views. So, I am in this business to share with those who want to see changes or are ready to make a change in their skincare routine. My friends and family are my greatest support! Without them, I won’t be here as they are the first ones to test all my products.

Q: Heard that you have a love affair for lip balm. How crazy are you about lip balm?

A:  My love affair is that I can’t do without them and have to use them to prevent my lips from being chapped. Well I’m certainly not as crazy as some people I’ve seen who have drawers of lip balms and lip products! I do have lip balms in my bags and the bathroom. I must say I am still an amateur compared to the fanatics!

Q: What are your future plans for this business and what you hope to achieve for this business?

A: Balm Kitchen is still very new in this industry and there is so much potential for it to grow. I will be introducing more products in the future that I hope they can benefit everyone. I would be including more organic ingredients in my products. I am in the midst of studying Holistic Cosmetology and I hope my knowledge will help me to formulate more effective products using the ingredients that Mother Nature has provided for us. I am also planning to conduct workshops in the future to share with everyone how they can make simple homemade products for themselves and their friends and families. I hope that Balm Kitchen will become a household brand that many can rely on for natural, plant- based and vegan skincare. I also have a secret wish that the majority of women in Singapore will use my lip balms!

balmpic650Q: Any shoutout to the readers?

A:  Balm kitchen is where you can find natural, plant-based and vegan products that you can use effectively and we handcraft our products in small batches to ensure their freshness. We source the highest quality ingredients and also partner with local business (support locals!) like Tea Voyage who supplies their beautiful teas and flowers for our oils infusions and scrubs. All our products are proudly made in Singapore.

So, here concludes the first part of our journey of local bespoke artisans. Stay tune for Part II of the journey as we introduce to you 5 more local bespoke artisans- their stories, their products, their hard work.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *