Friday, 14 April 2017

Artbox Singapore Shines A Torch On Social Entrepreneurs

A Marketplace Of Passionate Craftsmen
If you had been to the original Artbox, the biggest hipster creative market in Bangkok, and spent hours trawling through fascinating finds created by home-grown designers filled with passion for their craft, you will be pleased to know that Artbox Singapore has made its debut this weekend here at Marina Bayfront and would take place from 14-16 April and 21-23 April.   The event, sponsored by DBS Bank, features 300 international creative entrepreneurs selling items from handcrafted bags, handmade cards, jewelry, organic cosmetics, kitchenware, one-of-a-kind decorative items, plants, food and more.  

If you were visiting Artbox Singapore with the intent of taking a stroll through a “glorified pasar malam peddling over-priced ‘toot’” just to kill time before heading to your over-priced dinner somewhere else, you would  not be embracing Artbox Singapore in the right spirit.   First and foremost, do take a step back and remember why Artbox in Bangkok was created in the first place.  It was set up as a market place for talented souls to express their creativity.  Artbox in Singapore would be no different.  The passionate vibes of these creative souls were wafting through the event.  To top it all off, there were several social enterprises participating at Artbox Singapore who braved the torrential rains to showcase how creativity and social entrepreneurship came together to create a more inclusive society.  So please visit Artbox Singapore with an open heart and mind.

When Joel and I decided to pay Artbox Singapore a visit during its opening day, it was raining so heavily and the crowds were dashing across the aisles like ‘Whacky Races’, into the vendors’ tentages to get shelter.  Some of the vendors’ displays were drenched by the rain, and some experienced ponding within their booth space.  However, their spirits were not dampened at all.  I was impressed.  So many I spoke to, were enthusiastically explaining their respective stories behind their craft.

Anything that was handmade and locally designed by homegrown creative talents always got me really excited.  So let me introduce you to some of my favourite participating entrepreneurs 

Flora Woods

How would you like to come  to work each day to a touch of nature on your desk that could add a spark of positivity throughout the entire day as you navigated back to back calls, meetings and a heavy workload?  Isabel Bei of Flora Woods could customize little table gardens in a tin for you that sprinkled so much seeds of positivity.  Her stall was one of the prettiest.  I would be biased because I love nature and greenery.  You could choose your tin colour, choose a plant (she would pick the right one for you if you were unsure), then choose your own little accessories to dress up your table garden.  More positively green ideas can be found at @florawoods



Ummu Nabilah from Ummuramics has the magical hands behind her one-of-a-kind ceramic wares.  I loved that these ceramic pieces were unique, raw and edgy. They did not look too off-the-department-store polished at all.  Do check out more of her work at @ummuramics

Troops On Print
These bags have been brandished with whimsical prints that were hand-painted. Within their range of hand-painted accessories, are cards, iron-on patches, pin and more.  Do check out more pretty designs at @troopsonprint

Chou Chou Handcraft
Who could resist these cute handmade hats from Chou a Chou Handcraft?  These hats shout "I am fabulously cute!"  Best part about them was that these hats came in different sizes, suitable for both kids and adults.  Some of my friends with young kids who enjoy 'twinning' their clothes with their little ones should not walk past this stall without getting a couple of hats. I made a mental note to alert Susan from @ajugglingmom who might be able to find a couple of hats just right for herself and her little Sophie.  More hat designs can be found at @chouchouhandcraft

Wow! I was blown away by Olivia from OCD who described herself as the "Comics Destroyer".  All her accessories were made by cut-outs from old comic books.  I could hear the painful groans of some of my friends who collected comics, read them from cover to cover since they were young and preserved them in a pristine state throughout their adulthood.  If I might offer a perspective to my comics-obsessed friends, Olivia, the Comic Destroyer did not quite destroy comics really. She preserved them in a different way by repurposing them into handmade jewelry like rings, pendants, earrings and cufflinks.  The Goddess in me was about to snap up all her Wonder Woman accessories.   Do follow Olivia at @madebyocd

 Red Dot Crafts
Ching from Red Dot Crafts stopped me in my tracks as I was strolling down past her booth.  She pointed out to my hand-sewn patchwork bag which I was carrying then and asked if I loved handcrafted accessories.  Of course I did! She said that her accessories from pouches, purses, satchels, and totes were all handmade, and she ensured that they were made with good, durable materials. I bought a quilted tote which was perfect for carrying my lunch in at work everyday.  More of Ching's beautiful handiwork can be found at @reddotcrafts


Candescent Box
Who could resist the delicious scent of  hand-poured candles made from soy wax? I knew avocado had a taste but never knew avocado had a scent suitable to be made into candles!  Do visit aspiring artisan Amira and her Mom at @candescentbox

Social Entrepreneurs
Yes, I loved anything and everything handmade, locally designed and even better if they served a social good.  I met a few social entrepreneurs selling a range of handcrafted accessories that supported a variety of causes.  I would urge you to have a chat with them about what drove that passion behind their respective efforts towards these causes.

 Indie Mama
Li Ying (I hope I got her name right) left an advertising job to pursue her venture, Indie Mama which teaches people from low income families to sew and create these beautiful statement accessories. These skills ensure that they have a sustainable way of making a living and lead productive lives.

Remember these Good Morning hand towels from the days of old which were used in granny's kitchen or at hair salons? Some of these were cleverly used to make clutches, pouches and purses. Vibrant batik material were magically turned into rice dumpling-shaped purses and cushions. Crochet bags and Jewelry that she sold were so unique and vintage-looking, almost like right out of granny's closet.  You can check out more pieces of hand-sewn accessories at @indie_mamashop

 Teddy Thotz
I stopped by Teddy Thotz to hug these Happy Bears, handmade from material with  vibrantly coloured prints and played with some of these cute Amigurumi toys.  I managed to have a chat with socialpreneur George who told me that everything at Teddy Thotz was made by the elderly, the poor and disadvantaged, single women, and indie designers.  He believed that Teddy Thotz was a place where creativity and social enterprise merged to create handmade and homemade quality stuff that represented the true creative passions of the crafter while being socially beneficial. 
More handmade fun and whimsical toys and accessories from Teddy Thotz can be found at


Center Pottery
Besides shopping and eating anything fun, creative and hip at the Artbox Singapore, you could also sign up for a pottery workshop with Center Pottery and know that part proceeds would go to helping mental health patients who had been taking up pottery classes as a form of therapy. Former national sailor Joan Huang founded Center Pottery, which worked with psychologists to combine the science of modern psychology with clay art to create a structured therapeutic curriculum for the general public and mental health patients. More information about these workshops could be found at @centerpottery

 There were a lot more social enterprises at the Artbox Singapore but I was not able to visit every one of them.  I would however encourage you to visit some of these social enterprises and support their respective causes because their efforts have contributed to the creation of a more inclusive society by offering commercially sustainable solutions to social issues.  This would ensure that those at society's margins could lead productive and rewarding lives. These social enterprises were championed by DBS Foundation.
*Artbox Singapore would be delighting an expected crowd of 400,000 people with so much creative vibe, at Marina Bayfront, across 2 weekends, between 14-16 April and 21-23 April.  

About The Writer

The writer of this blog post is a Marketing and PR professional for over 20 years.  She is a passionate observer of life bent on inspiring others to live life positively through her writing as she pays tribute to moments worth celebrating every day.   Due to her ardent love for sports especially boxing and MMA, she is also a freelance sports writer on the side, contributing articles to several sports media when time permits.  She works in partnership with her husband, David Ash, who is an avid sports photographer from  She enjoys Boxing and nurtures a dream to fight competitively one day when her coach stops making fun of her.  She is also a psychic intuitive by birth and runs a consultancy that does tarot and numerology readings under her brand, Sun Goddess Tarot.  This blog is affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" as she is married to one, although she has not yet explained to THE Ang Mo that when translated, he has been labeled  “the bloke with ginger hair”.  

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