updated 18 Jul 2011, 19:51
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Tue, Mar 15, 2011
The Business Times
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Career shoppers work their niche
by Melissa Lwee

nana & bird

Block 24, Tiong Bahru Road, #04-131

Open usually on the last Saturday of the month, from 11am to 6pm

THERE is new life amid the quaintness of the Tiong Bahru area. Thanks to an array of cool lifestyle concepts that have opened there, the once quiet neighbourhood is slowly turning into a destination stop on the Singapore map.

One such business is the weekend-only store nana & bird - a monthly pop-up boutique that specialises in fashion and lifestyle products that was set up by best friends and shopaholics Georgina Koh and Tan Chiew Ling roughly one year ago.

"Chiew Ling and I really like to shop and so last year, we decided that it was time to focus our energy on something that we really love - nana & bird allows us to shop for a living which is a dream for both of us," says Koh who explains that the name is a combination of her nickname "Nana" and Tan's nickname which is "Bird".

"The store is more of a pop-up concept and typically takes place on the last Saturday of every month. Most of the time, it's held here in my house at Tiong Bahru but sometimes, we take it to other places such as Beauty Emporium in Dempsey where we've held a few sessions."

She adds that a weekend pop-up business model may be small but it works well as both of them have day jobs - Koh is a digital marketing consultant and Tan is a creative services director based in Shanghai.

"We are in the midst of looking for a permanent retail space and, of course, in terms of traction, things will probably be faster with a physical store that people can walk in and out of," she admits.

"But, for the time being, this one-Saturday-a-month model works really well for us. The overheads are lower and it gives us time to source for our products and design and produce a range of our nana & bird branded products. We are more keen to get into a position where we're comfortable with the inventory that we're bringing in and growing a regular customer base first."

As nana & bird approaches its one-year mark, Koh reveals that the response to the store has been encouraging - "especially given that we are not doing this full-time," she adds - attracting about 60 to 70 customers each time and that, moving forward, they are in the process of launching more collaborations with local artists.

"We're slowly expanding beyond just bringing brands in," says Koh. "For example, last year we launched a limited-edition run of 50 tote bags with local illustrator Celeste Anning which Chiew Ling helped produce in China, and we're also working with Jeremiah Ang of J.Myers Company who has produced a range of hand-stitched leather pouches, cuffs and belts for us. We will also be working with him to launch a series of leather clutches."

The next nana & bird event will take place next Saturday and, according to Koh, they will be focusing on a series of tote bags from Hong Kong label Handsome Bag Co that turns discarded taxi parts into items of fashion, as well as dresses from Ribbon and Roses by British-born, Singapore-based designer Marina Milburn.

"Initially, we wanted to have a different theme for each weekend, but then we realised that it's very limiting because if we had a vintage weekend for instance, not everyone might be into vintage and we may end up alienating customers," she concludes. "We have since decided that the best way to go would be to have a range of regular brands but have a different focus each week such as Ribbon and Roses this month and the range of clutches from J.Myers Company next month. We find that this business model works best for us."


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