As August draws near, while our counterparts in the Western hemisphere are gearing up for Autumn and homes are decorated with pumpkins and fallen maple leaves, Singaporeans are likewise donning our homes with red and white flags, showcasing our patriotism. August is a time where Singaporean pride is at an all-time high, with National Day approaching and Singaporeans preparing to attend all the National Day parties and festivities.
While National Day is a great time for us to feel an exceptional sense of national pride, how far do you know about the local home grown brands in Singapore that make us go “Singapore Boleh”? These immensely successful local “OG” home grown brands have come a long way since starting off as small brands with humble beginnings and blossoming into their well-known, well-loved brand persona today.
Now located at almost every shopping mall in Singapore, Bengawan Solo has not always had it so smooth sailing. The bakery started from a humble home bakery of Anastasia Tjendri-Liew when she moved from Indonesia to Singapore. Her interest in baking spurred her to start her own home business. However, she did not have a food-manufacturing license and was told to shut down the home operation in 1979. Her products were nonetheless popular among her regulars and her first shop opened at Marine Terrace. Her dedication to making kuehs received attention from newspaper reviews and soon after, the company expanded to five outlets in 1987. Being the first bakery to utilise a central kitchen, Bengawan Solo paved the way for its bakery successors to follow suit. To date, Bengawan Solo boasts over 43 stores islandwide. While the brand is built on its traditional routes, it still finds ways to constantly innovate for seasonal products like Mid-Autumn Festival and Hari Raya Puasa.
The next time you’re munching on your favourite kueh from Bengawan Solo, you’ll be sure to feel a strong sense of Singaporean pride for this local home grown brand.
We Singaporeans may love our Teh-Peng and Teh-Gao, but TWG Tea makes us feel pree-tea proud of its humble beginnings in Singapore! TWG Tea was only established in 2008 and within a short span of 6 years, the company has opened boutiques in 14 countries across Asia, The Middle East, United States, Europe and Australia. It is branded as the first and only upscale tea salon in Singapore, and its swanky interior never fails to transport us to another world with the marble details and floor to ceiling tea displays. The next time you walk past a TWG Tea store and wonder which European country this brand hails from, let your inner Singaporean scream “Singapore boleh”!
Charles and Keith
Charles and Keith is no stranger to any Singaporean, given its tremendous success not just in Singapore but also in other Southeast Asian countries and beyond. Charles Wong and Keith Wong, brothers, worked at their parents’ shoe shop in Ang Mo Kio to learn the ropes of managing a shoe business before opening their first store in 1996 at Amara Shopping Centre. They designed their own shoes, allowing the brand to gain brand recognition from their clientele from the get go. Charles and Keith has also attracted the attention of fashion giant Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) which invested a 20 percent stake in the company.
Did you know that Charles and Keith is the first company in Singapore to set up an e-commerce website? In 2004, an e-commerce website was created in the company’s efforts to expand its business beyond its brick and mortar store. It was the pioneer in e-commerce, paving the way for the thousands of e-commerce websites we have grown to know and love today.
ToTT is a homegrown kitchenware brand that hails from Singapore. Mr Tan Choon Boon started out as a sales assistant at Sia Huat, ToTT’s parent company in 1968. He was able to secure weighty brand partners by the 1980s, notable ones include Zebra, a household kitchenware manufacturer based in Thailand and pitched its products to department stores like Tangs, Robinsons and Giant. ToTT has received international accolades when it was awarded the Global Innovation Award by the International Housewares Association in the US that recognises excellence in houseware retail and design. To date, the company has constantly innovated and even opened in-store kitchens where they host cooking classes and birthday parties. The success of this local brand can be attributed to the gutsiness of the team to open up kitchen studios even when the concept was new and ToTT had no experience managing cooking studios. This less known local brand still makes us beam with pride for their gutsiness to try out a new business concept and boy have they succeeded!
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The birth of Qourier came about during a discussion over coffee about Mr Elston Yee’s experience in the post office which gave them the idea to start their own logistics company specialising in same-day delivery. They registered the company officially in September 2014.
Qourier’s founders Mr Yee and Mr Wong Yong Jie sought funding from investors and contacted Temasek Polytechnic’s Entrepreneurship Centre (TPEC) for help and advice on beginning their own start-up. TPEC worked together with the Temasek Polytechnic alumni and provided them guidance on their logistics business model and gave them important contacts to external parties, which was how they were connected to Mr Satheesh Thekku Veethil as they needed someone with IT expertise and knowledge. In 2017, Qourier raised S$890,000 (US$626,000) seed round to bolster its market share. Investors include Japanese technology company Startia Inc., and private investors including Alex Tam (Regional CIO, DB Schenker Asia Pacific) and Eric Dadoun (Impiro). To date, Qourier has about 9000 Qourier Heroes and counting.
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Happy National Day from all of us here at Qourier!