Close to Culture, Close to Creativity, Spot on Asia.

Articles tagged “entrepreneurship

The negotiation with pirates. Illustrations by Ng Weng Chi

How My Dad Fought Pirates

Posted on June 5, 2013

 

Illustrations by Ng Weng Chi

 

I want to tell you a story. One of courage, compassion, fear and cowardice.

It is about how my dad fought pirates.

My father would relate this story often to my friends. Making the same exclamations and the same hand gestures for dramatic effect. He wouldn’t miss a beat on the story because it happened during a significant time for him—a time of great struggle. This period had taught him many great things and telling this story was his way of passing his own life morals to others.

In a nutshell, my father is in the shipping business. Buying and selling boats, he is a person made of suits, glasses, old-Chinese-cinema honour and old-fashioned perceptions of integrity. He would come across almost like a stereotyped Asian father. Protective, firm, proud of his work, and most of all, endearing in unexpected ways. But like any long-time entrepreneur, his stories and life experiences run deep.

It was a tough year for anyone. Economy was down and business was just not going well for anyone. But my dad finally got a buyer. The ship was ready to be moved from the origin of production down to the determined destination. It would take about four months and a few days for the whole journey. The trip was smooth sailing and everything seemed to work out perfectly.

But on the last day of travel, my father got a call. The ship, and its crew, were caught by pirates.

My dad lifted his hand and smacked it on his forehead. “Oh shit. What do we do now?”

0 Comments

+Read more

How BooksActually Actually Makes Books

Posted on May 13, 2013

IMG_4720

It seems that if you’re a bibliophile and you live in Singapore, then you can’t help having a crush on BooksActually.

BooksActually is probably the most innovative indie bookstore in this small country. In the past few months, they’ve pulled off some charming feats of marketing. They organised a string of pop-up stores, including ones at Hotel 1929 and Blackmarket (Orchard Central). In April they held their “24-Hour Bookstore Event”, featuring discounts for books, free drinks sponsored by Red Bull and an overnight programme filled with literary bohemianisms. And before that, they hosted the Monocle Season Shop, a retail event that was part of the magazine’s The Monocle Asia-Pacific Tour.

BooksActually also promotes its own gutsy catalogue at these events, a selection of quirky books produced through its publishing imprint, Math Paper Press. Current titles include Red Dot Irreal, a collection of “equatorial fantastika” stories by Jason Erik Lundberg; Sonnets from the Singlish by Joshua Ip, basically an exercise in writing 44 sonnets in Singapore’s street English dialect; and Ayam Curtain, edited by June Yang and Joyce Chng, a compilation of bizarre microfiction inspired by local culture.

1 Comment

+Read more

The value of personal side projects

Posted on April 23, 2013

In the early summer of 2005, a man walked the streets of New York City, wearing a grey wig, a beard, a pair of ski goggles, and carrying around a stack of stickers. The stickers, each shaped like a speech bubble, would be carefully peeled and pasted on advertising billboards inside train stations and bus stops. He did this ever so subtly and carefully, so as not to alert anyone—especially the cops—of his illegal activities.

Source: Flickr, The Bubble Project

Source: Flickr, The Bubble Project

Curious onlookers would question the man on what he intended to write on those speech bubble stickers. “Nothing,” he nonchalantly replied and quickly moved on.

Over the next few days, these stickers would be filled with handwritten messages; some were witty, others were suggestive, but all commonly written by public civilians. The stickers quickly gathered media attention and interest from around the world.

The man behind the stickers (and the wig-beard disguise) was Ji Lee, a creative strategist and director at Facebook. At the time, he was working as an art director for a major advertising agency, Saatchi and Saatchi. The project wasn’t part of a commissioned campaign but rather a passion project that sprouted from Lee’s frustration of corporate monologues in advertising and churning mundane work for some of these clients on a daily basis with very minimal creative freedom.

A disguised Ji Lee with one of his many Bubble Project subjects on the streets of New York April 9, 2008.

A disguised Ji Lee with one of his many Bubble Project subjects on the streets of New York April 9, 2008.

As Ji Lee stood on stage recounting his past experience in a CreativeMornings talk in 2011, he remarked that the project lead to a few fines for vandalism, several lawyer’s letters and a job at Droga5, one of the world’s most respected advertising agency known for advertising campaigns that are disruptive and viral in nature.

0 Comments

+Read more

The Imaginarium of littleoddforest

Posted on March 12, 2013

Photo: Lynda Lye

Photo: Lynda Lye

Lynda Lye, SINGAPORE

Founder/Designer of littleoddforest™

Tucked in a quiet room within Lynda’s cozy residence lays a mini-showroom and workshop filled with the handcrafted creations of littleoddforest™. Some might see it as an imaginarium of odd wonder, while for others a cumulation of a lifetime worth of work. As a sole entrepreneur who built an entire business thread-by-thread and dollar-by-dollar, Lynda is no stranger to blood, sweat and tears.

Tell us about your brand and the idea behind it?

Founded in 2004, littleoddforest™ is a quirky, whimsical, independent lifestyle fashion accessories label, whose nature, fairy-tales and wanderlust-inspired creations include limited edition, one-of-a-kind quality handmade bags, purses, pouches, plush cushions and toys, home decor, wearables, and various other accessories including sleep eye masks, indoor footwear, baby goods and so much more. littleoddforest™ goods are all as honestly produced as much as I possibly can ensure; made with lots of love and in limited numbers, with many one-of-a-kind creations, both in my tiny Singapore home-based studio and our very own fair-wage labor workshop in The Philippines, which was set up almost 8 years ago. We are the anti-orthodoxy of big brands, shiny leather bags and all things flashy. Many things in our mass-produced world tend to be too de rigueur, slick and cold, and my wish is to make good quality and usable goods that are fun, quirky, odd, and colorful with personality. I make only what I like and my unbridled passion is in pervasive creativity — I will lay my hands on everything if I could!

Tell us about your previous working situation and did you have a background in design?

I’ve worked in both the United States and Singapore as a Graphic Designer after graduating from The School of Art Institute of Chicago with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communications. Even while schooling in the Science stream, I’ve been making pencil cases, hand-sewn cards and soft toys for friends, with rave reviews, ever since my Mum gave me her very retro-looking vintage Singer sewing machine (it was part of her wedding dowry!) when I was 13, when we had to start our Home Economics classes in Secondary One. It came as no surprise to me when some of my favorite classes in art college in Chicago eventually turned out to be Fashion Accessories Design and Packaging Design, which I took for 2 semesters.

Sewing Machine from Lynda's Mum

Sewing Machine from Lynda’s Mum

What is your favorite part in the process of designing accessories

I enjoy conceptualizing and prototyping because I can go wild with ideas while sketching, and then transforming that drawing into a raw working craft piece excites me, even when a particular idea doesn’t work out eventually (and this happens more often than not!).

0 Comments

+Read more

Think like a Designer, Act like an Entrepreneur

Posted on February 26, 2013

Photo: Alecia Neo for SingaPlural

Photo: Alecia Neo for SingaPlural

Kimming Yap, SINGAPORE

Co-Founder/Designer at Creativeans

People working in teams understand that team dynamics can either make or break a project. Habits that help to bring order to spurts of creativity while rotating leadership roles ensure that no egos are bruised. A high level of trust and respect for your teammates seem necessary but may not be enough, according to award-winning design firm Creativeans. Formed by 3 students and an industrial design lecturer, there is something special about the story of their business partnership, which was born right in the schoolyard, has weathered many stormy years and is setting sail for greater adventures.

Tell us about your brand and the idea behind it?

Creativeans is an award-winning design firm based in Milan and Singapore. We help our partners develop game changing brand, innovation and design. We believe in challenging the status quos to create innovative and meaningful solutions; mixing the right blend of art and pragmatism to concoct great experiences. We are a service provider, which started our line of lifestyle goods in 2010 through self-initiated projects.

As designers we constantly feel the urge to create. We decided to start our own line of lifestyle products as we noticed such strong interest in Asian design from the international design community whenever we would exhibit in Europe.

Tell us about your previous working situation and did you have a background in design?

I initially had my industrial design training at Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore. After which, I then decided to get a Masters in Design in Italy’s Domus Academy. I worked in Italy for a few years with a Japanese firm before moving back to Singapore to set-up Creativeans with 3 of my friends.

Studying and working in Italy changed the way I see design.

0 Comments

+Read more