While everyone has different views when it comes to patriotism, it’s undeniable that supporting homegrown brands and products is one clear sign of support. Some of these brands are also high quality and well designed in their own right and have expanded and gained popularity overseas.
Conceptualised and brought to life by spirited Singaporeans, our local brands definitely deserve the Made With Passion brand mark, a national initiative that’s jointly led by the Singapore Tourism Board and Enterprise Singapore.
Here are 8 homegrown local brands to support this August — we bet you’ve heard of many (or all) of them!
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Birds of Paradise
Birds of Paradise might be the name of some gorgeous winged species and plant, but in Singapore, this name is synonymous with a gelato shop that specialises in…you guessed it…literally cool botanical-inspired creations!
Founded by diehard ice-cream fan and former engineer Edwin Lim who just wanted to make people happy through ice-cream, the very first Birds of Paradise Gelato Boutique opened in Katong in 2016. The brand quickly became known for its fragrant thyme cones, iconic shop mural, and unique ice-cream flavours such as White Chrysanthemum and Strawberry Basil. The flavours are delicate on the palate and refreshing in our eternal summer.
Today, Birds of Paradise Gelato Boutique has four outlets, including the original at Katong, as well as at Jewel Changi Airport, Craig Road and Beach Road.
Address: 63 East Coast Road #01-05 (Katong) / 78 Airport Blvd, #01-254 (Jewel Changi Airport) / 53 Craig Road #01-01 (Craig) / 263 Beach Road (Beach)
Awfully Chocolate has become a household name today, with a network of stores in Singapore and overseas outlets in China. Indeed, this wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of founder Lyn Lee, who left her career as an attorney behind in 1998 to pursue her dream.
From humble beginnings of perfecting a “daily” chocolate cake that won the approval of her boyfriend’s mum and mahjong posse, Lyn managed to grow her fanbase and business from her first shop in Katong. Expansion only began in 2004 when she knew the business downpat and had accumulated profits.
Today, Awfully Chocolate has grown from a store just selling one item, to an established chain of stores and bakery/cafe concepts that specialises in a wide range of chocolate desserts and gifts.
Address: 13 outlets in Singapore, including 131 East Coast Road (original) and 10 Bayfront Ave, Marina Bay Sands, #01-75
The Paper Bunny
The Paper Bunny, a beloved homegrown brand in the stationery and lifestyle space, just bounded into the brick-and-mortar world with its first physical store in Orchard last year, in 2021 — eight years after it was founded in end-2013 as an online store.
At the helm of The Paper Bunny is founder and designer Jamie Lee, who is also a qualified lawyer (and also a mum!). The other half of The Paper Bunny is her husband, Justin Tan. Another part of The Paper Bunny’s business is providing custom stationery design for clients who seek to add a personalised touch to their wedding or important event.
Today, in addition to the launch of the first TPB store, these designed-in-Singapore bags, planners, and wares are also sought-after by fans overseas, including South Africa and The United States. Oh, and the local brand is also big on sustainability…bonus points from us!
Address: The TPB Everyday Store, 391 Orchard Road, #B2-38A Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Ngee Ann City
Beyond the Vines
You might have seen an eye-catching design studio during your jaunt in town, with the curious name, Beyond The Vines, and all sorts of everyday wear and bags. Although the current iteration of Beyond The Vines only began in 2020, the label itself was conceived in 2015 as an e-commerce venture.
Using “vines” as another name for clothing, the founder couple Daniel Chew and Rebecca Ting felt that the name was perfect as they also wanted to go beyond just apparel. Starting out as a womenswear label, Beyond The Vines decided to make the bold decision to pivot — during the Covid-19 pandemic, of all things — and thus the one-of-a-kind design studio concept for all was born.
Today, there are Beyond The Vines boutiques in Singapore’s key shopping malls; they also have a presence overseas. Beyond The Vines also serves as a soapbox where budding designers can showcase their designs and take flight.
Address: 391 Orchard Road, #B1-42/46, Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Ngee Ann City / 107 North Bridge Road, Funan #02-08 / 2 Orchard Turn, #B3-11. ION Orchard
By Invite Only
Singaporean Trixie Khong started jewellery brand By Invite Only in 2009 with just $500. In fact, the brand was a “happy accident”, started by the then-undergraduate looking for a way to earn some pocket moolah and hoping to pay it forward at the same time. How it happened: She learnt jewellery-making skills from a craft supplies store she often visited, and after a logo design sesh with a friend, her business began.
Back then, her designs were statement pieces, but today, they’ve since evolved to become less in-your-face, more minimalist everyday accessories that are known to be suitable for sensitive skin. Following her success as an indie brand, in 2017 Trixie opened her first physical store and was on the road to expansion when Covid-19 hit just a few years later.
Today, after navigating tough times and bleeding six-figure sums at one point, By Invite Only is back on its expansion track, yet never losing sight of the need to constantly improve, as well as its mindful, sustainable philosophy.
Address: 2 Orchard Turn, #B3-04 (ION Orchard) / 313 Somerset Road, #01-K (313@Somerset) / 200 Victoria Street, #01-HylamSt-K1 (Bugis Junction) / 1 Harbourfront Walk, #01-K19/2 (VivoCity) / 23 Serangoon Central, #01-K9 (NEX)
Sing your hearts out, because you’ll 100% recognise this family-oriented entertainment brand…and it is probably the oldest on this list.
Starting out in Katong Shopping Centre in 1989, Teo Heng KTV began life as a karaoke equipment wholesaler. To help business along, founder Dato’ Seri Mr. Jackson Teo Ngiang Heng (PBM) — then at the tender age of 24 — would croon with his friends outside the shop as part of their marketing and sales efforts, or even show up at kopitiams with his trusty portable karaoke machine.
The natural-born salesman started the first Teo Heng KTV studio in Katong Shopping Centre, where his office and equipment showroom was. Then, it wasn’t his core business, but he simply established KTV outlets out of his love for singing and a belief that the social hobby is healthy for all, especially teens.
Unfortunately, KTV took a critical hit during the pandemic, which resulted in the closure of most of the Teo Heng KTV outlets and heavy debts. Total closure was also considered. Today, as normal life is resuming amid Covid-19, Teo Heng KTV is determined to bounce back better than ever…welcome back, graduation penguin!
Address: #03-380/381/382, 3 Temasek Blvd (Suntec City) / #05-01, 1 Woodlands Square (Causeway Point) / #03-14/15/16, 2 Jurong East Central 1 (JCube) / #01-23/28, 1 Vista Exchange Green (The Star Vista) / 1 Stadium Place #01-64A/65 (Kallang Wave Mall)
Parents will be familiar with Hegen, which is a made-in-Singapore brand that strongly supports breastfeeding through its innovatively designed bottles, teats, pumps and storage solutions. It was founded by Yvon Bock, who proudly breastfed her four children over the span of a decade.
Driven to create the perfect baby milk bottle to support other mothers, she started Hegen in 2015, under Fitson Singapore, run by her dad, Chan Ching. Fitson operated as a contract manufacturer for international baby brands, and had decades of expertise in the process, from design to manufacturing.
Yvon’s decision to start Hegen stemmed from a 2010 situation that involved the sudden discontinuation of a client’s product. To deliver the goods, Fitson had already committed plenty of resources to the project. This made them determined to create their own brand and line of products…a journey that took 5 years and was almost lost to leaked designs.
Today, Hegen is well-known for its simple yet intelligent one-hand Press-to-Close, Twist-to-Open mechanism, and easily swappable modules for mothers who need to efficiently convert a container from pumping container to storage to feeding bottle.
Where you can buy Hegen: Mothercare, Kiddy Palace, Mummys Market (Suntec City), BHG Bugis Junction, Metro, OG, Motherswork, TANGS, Takashimaya, Isetan and Thomson Medical Centre pharmacy
Did you know that Pearlie White is one of the more popular brands…in the United States? The homegrown brand is also the only oral care brand here that has oral care manufacturing facilities in Singapore, and the family-owned brand’s heritage dates back to 1869 to Dr Cheong Chun Tin, the first certified dentist here. Pearlie White is also the flagship brand of Corlison, a local distributor, which is being steered by Andy Ong, who also wears a second hat as the founder of Pearlie White.
Wearing the Singapore brand loud and proud with an apt lionhead logo on the packaging, Pearlie White prides itself on its natural products that are all made on this sunny island and adhering to high standards.
Some of Pearlie White’s popular products include the Active Remineralisation Toothpaste, which make up 9 out of 10 products sold in the US. Another factor that has led to the brand’s innovation and growth is the willingness to listen to feedback, from dentists to customers.
Where you can buy Pearlie White: Available in health and beauty stores, supermarkets, departmental stores, convenience stores, clinics/pharmacies and online retailers.
There you go! Did some of these homegrown brands surprise you? It’s definitely time that we paid more attention to our local founders.
Speaking of local brands, did you know that M1 is Singapore’s first digital network operator? It’s true! And like all the other brands right here on this list, they’re here to support you – by supporting your mobile devices.
Plus, as an mPowered reader, you can get a total $15 off your first month! And for this month only, you’ll also get a $5 GrabFood voucher when you register. Now that’s a deal we should kiasu about – hurry and register for your M1 SIM-only plan now!