SINGAPORE – When we came across a boutique that feels like browsing through a friend’s extensive wardrobe with every item calling out to you, we know it's a winner. Housed in the airy and spacious Yong Siak location, Nana & Bird is just the place to venture to when you need retail inspiration or a chat with the friendly owners, Georgina Koh and Tan Chiew Ling.
Besides its namesake clothing label, Nana & Bird, the homegrown multi-label boutique also houses both local and international brands. In the past 11 years since their debut as a weekend pop-up store in Georgina’s Tiong Bharu apartment, the brand is constantly addressing its customers needs by introducing relevant and thoughtful items on top of providing engaging store experiences. From their roots in clothing merchandise, the fashion brand has branched out into accessories, kidswear and items for the home. True to their innovative spirit, they recently launched three lines: Momentum, Essence and Re/love. These three new launches cover their fifth capsule collection, in-house scent and homecare label, as well as a pre-loved segment.
Borne from a tough year the entire world has been through, the aptly named Momentum is “inspired by the proposition of regaining one’s momentum in 2021 after surviving the uncertainties of 2020”. The founders seek to inject a sense of hope and positivity by bringing lightness and forward momentum. The fifth capsule, a 30-piece collection, comprises easy-to-wear mix-and-match outfits, featuring funky prints and a colourful colour palette. You will find tops, bottoms, outerwear and dresses made with working from home (wfh) in mind. Not quite loungewear, the Momentum collection is made for zoom-ready wfh situations, with a touch of elegance thanks to luxury materials such as jacquard.
On the one item every woman should own during this pandemic, Georgina shares her pick of a relaxed blazer that will allow her to breeze through online work meetings. Chiew Ling's pick goes to a pair of comfortable house pants that can dress up or down easily, which is also iron-free.
Prices start from S$115.
A single scent can conjure memories and inspire emotions. The same can be said of the signature Nana & Bird scent. After years of feedback from regulars who adore the boutique scent the founders created, the brand’s bespoke store scent “RENEW” is born. Developed with Singapore-based essential oils company Ollie, RENEW is formulated with pure, natural essential oils from lavender, eucalyptus and tea tree. Working with farmers and distillers worldwide, customers can rest assured and bring this familiar chemical-free blend into their homes. Calming, relaxing and yet refreshing, Nana & Bird’s unique blend is sure to come in handy during this pandemic.
The “RENEW” range includes a room mist (S$25 for 50ml), essential oil (S$25 for 10ml), aroma roller (S$18 for 10ml), and the ESSENCE RENEW Kit (S$60 for all three products).
In these uncertain times when people are starting to reevaluate their priorities in life, the founders recognise that circularity in fashion is timely. Just as how the curation of products came to be due to the founders shared passion for fashion, the founders’ wish is for their fans to build a modern women’s wardrobe that can withstand the test of time. This is done by injecting newness in a sustainable way. To the founders, each item under the Re/love category is about celebrating moments, an item that grows with you over different life stages and is set to remain relevant in the years to come. The curation of rare, timeless and authentic second-hand pieces from marquee luxury brands at accessible price points is so much more than owning a luxury piece. It is also about giving a new lease of life to each of the items.
“The fashion industry is at a crossroad evaluating its footprint and impact on the environment. As parents, we think about the world that we want to create for our children. But as consumers ourselves, we cannot deny the joy of discovering new brands and products too,” says Chiew Ling. “We believe the dichotomy between the two can be resolved by promoting the circularity of fashion. We can purchase with intent, use carefully and circulate responsibly.”
Customers can follow the brand’s Instagram account, @relove_by, and make an appointment to view the items in store.
Overcoming challenges together
The creative duo makes entrepreneurship look achievable to anyone thinking of doing the same. Take note that both of the founders hold full-time jobs and are each mother of two. So how did the two hit the jackpot with their boutique? Far from luck, the success of Nana & Bird is a culmination of various factors, a large part of which lies in their chemistry and a belief in themselves.
Their 25 years of friendship is built on solid grounds, having met each other during their junior college years. Together with their promise to put friendship above business from the get-go, their mutual respect has allowed them to build on each other’s strengths. But most importantly, both have their unique ways to use time to their advantage.
A guardian of your time
For Chiew Ling, compartmentalising her time into untouchable slots meant for her children, husband, and business have worked wonders. “You have to be conscious about blocking out your time and establish the barrier”, the guardian of her own time enthuses. The dynamic entrepreneur even manages to carve out time for her daily K-drama fix. Imagine having a full-time career, a flourishing retail and online store on top of juggling a family with kids, yet still enjoy me-time. Go figure.
Georgina is conscious about taking care of her energy levels and being present at whatever she is doing – be it focusing on work during working hours, spending quality time with her family or working on Nana & Bird’s operations and formulating business plans. This trait about being present has allowed her to zero in on matters at hand and for her to give her 100 per cent on whatever she is doing. She reiterates that when she switches off, she means it. “You need to be deliberate about how you use your time”, the multi-tasker shares. While her business partner catches up on K-dramas, Georgina enjoys winding down with a glass of wine with her husband at night after the children are asleep.
Naturally, both entrepreneurs credit their supportive and patient husbands who willingly take up the bulk of childcare duties, especially during the weekends. Thankfully, the duo has worked out an am/pm slot, so they can relieve each other and enjoy precious family time over the weekends.
Women lifting women up
On tips for aspiring women entrepreneurs, the founders would like to appeal to fellow women to embrace their ideas and actively seek out ways to manifest them.
“Don’t be afraid to have ambition. Don’t dwell on your ideas, do it. Honour that energy and gut feel. Never doubt your instinct, protect it and see how it grows”, Chiew Ling shares.
Georgina concurs, “We should support one another. Women should not be critical of other women but lift one another up. People are more than willing to share. When you are stuck, talk to someone. Put your trust out there and reiterate your ideas along the way.”
The Nana & Bird community
On how they wish to bring Nana & Bird into the next decade, the founders have big plans. Recognising that women are multifaceted, they understand that having a strongly curated offering is just the tip of the iceberg, their offerings must be sharp and different as well. Their dream for Nana & Bird is to build a strong community of women who will come together to a space to relax, even with their children in tow. A one-stop destination where women get not only their fashion fix but also a place for their beauty needs. Most importantly, Nana & Bird will be a space where women can gather and support one another.
We look forward to seeing Nana & Bird soar.
Nana & Bird
1M Yong Siak St, Singapore 168641