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How Our Favourite Singapore Businesses Are Adapting To Covid-19 – And How You Can Help

Amidst the constantly changing Covid-19 advisories, one thing is for sure – businesses at every level are hurting. Some are better positioned to ride out this storm of course. But small, independent businesses and startups will most likely bear the brunt of this ongoing situation. Just how bad does it look? Veteran restaurateur Willin Low predicts that 88 per cent of restaurants here may end up closing their business – permanently – over the next 30 days, despite government grants and reliefs. We do not know the exact number for now but let us not allow the situation to ever reach those unthinkable depths, be it in the F&B industry or otherwise.

As no one wants to see their favourite bookstore, cinema, florist, cafe and countless others hobbled like this, we’ve reached out to some of our favourite local businesses across different industries to learn how they have been impacted, what you can do as a consumer to chip in and what these business owners are doing to boost their morale. If you are in a position to help, please do so by all means.

Humid House, botanical design studio
How has your business been affected by the Covid-19 situation? ‟In the past few weeks we’ve seen our events calendar just decimated by postponements and cancellations all the way into July. We’ve encountered operational roadblocks at every turn, from not being able to get our flowers (the global shipping network is paralysed), to projects stalling because landscape workers are unable to get across the causeway into Singapore. We are not unique in this situation and are very much in the trenches with all of our colleagues across multiple industries – events, floristry, landscaping, F&B, hospitality and retail.”     What are you doing in the face of this and how can customers still patronise Humid House during this time? ‟The silver lining in all of this is that for the past year, we have been working on a secret project that we’re now freed up to fast-track and sink our energy into. Come May, we will be launching a brand new e-commerce platform with floral arrangements using material that we’ve grown ourselves, right here in Singapore; a celebration of wonderful regional, non-commercially available flora that will be our deep pleasure to acquaint our current and future clients with. We will start with 20 per cent of our material locally grown, with the ambition of extending that to as much as 75 per cent by 2025.”     Heard of any other initiatives that you think could help the local creative community? ‟We know of the different support schemes listed here.”     What are you doing to keep your own spirits up and those of your team? ‟We will be having weekly ‘creative huddles’ on Zoom in the format of a show and tell session (held during cocktail hour). Each person will offer a little creative nugget – something they’ve been working on during the week. It could be an arrangement with material gathered on walks, a bit of research on plants / artists or even a haiku.”     – John Lim, founder of Humid House     Keep up to date with the latest developments at Humid House here. For more insights into how Humid House operates, check out our interview with founder John Lim.  The Cicheti Group, restaurant empire
How has your business been affected by the Covid-19 situation? ‟Yes, the impact has denitely been felt throughout our restaurant group. Revenue has taken a hit, especially in our CBD location where a bulk of our diners are working from home. Operationally we had to take drastic measures to consistently disinfect the premises across all our venues. A lot of attention has been dedicated to ensuring extra hygienic practices outside of the kitchen as well as upgrading existing kitchen protocols – the level of vigilance has increased tenfold.   There’s also extra emphasis placed on educating customers and our team. As the virus continues its trajectory, we are constantly made aware of new efforts to mitigate the risks in our premises. The attitudes towards dining out has also taken a sharp turn – people are extra cautious and as a business we have to respect and acknowledge that for the sake of our team and their health. I am however comforted by how our regulars have rallied behind us to spur the business forward and lessen the repercussions the virus has had on our industry as a whole. It has undoubtedly been a trying time, but I am very fortunate to be surrounded by such a supportive team of colleagues and customers that have been relentless in their support for our establishments.”     What are you doing in the face of this and how can customers still patronise The Cicheti Group’s restaurants during this time? ‟Absolutely. We are currently in the throes of getting our delivery menus launched across three platforms: GrabFood, Deliveroo and Foodpanda (note: you can now order from all of The Cicheti Group’s restaurants – Bar Cicheti, Cicheti and Caffe Cicheti – they’re doing deliveries islandwide seven days a week). Aside from this, we will be offering our ala carte menus for pickup orders. As a business, we  have historically had focused on our in-house dining experiences. And while having to pivot to delivery and takeout does have its challenges, it has also been an exciting time for us to explore and commit to an alternative business avenue.   That being said, translating the Cicheti experience across to our at-home diners has been at the top of my priority list. I am thrilled to announce that each restaurant has partnered up with the very talented DJ, Mr Has (@trustmrhas), who has curated an exclusive complimentary Spotify playlist for each outlet which diners will gain access to upon every delivery or takeout order. If we can’t have you with us in our restaurants, we hope to bring a little of our magic to you. Another exciting concept we will be offering is a wine paring option that sees our sommeliers pick out a bottle of wine to pair with your order. We are also flirting with the idea of a ‘Welcome Home’ bespoke feast that customers can pre-purchase and use once this situation blows over.”     Heard of any other initiatives that you think could help the local creative community? ‟A dear and long time friend of The Cicheti Group, Annette Tan (@fatfuku), is co-launching a movement called MyTreat that is built around kindness. It highlights some of the restaurants with delivery services during the pandemic to encourage people to purchase a meal and have that meal delivered to someone who they know is having a bad day. As we create social distance in the name of health and safety, a simple but powerful movement like this proves that we can still come together in spirit to share a meal, support a restaurant, and let someone know that they are not alone – all with a simple food delivery order.”     What are you doing to keep your own spirits up and those of your team? ‟I am by nature an optimist, especially when it comes to matters of business that involve my team. I believe that staying in a positive mental space while being well informed is paramount to having the tenacity to navigate a challenging landscape and to make the right decisions during a time when things are extremely unpredictable. It is my duty to create a safe space of security and calmness in times like these.   My two partners Chef Aun and Ronald have been instrumental in maintaining a ‘business a usual’ mindset and ensuring that each team member feels supported and cared for. They have been great sounding boards for me. Communication and transparency internally is extremely important. I share my thought process with my team, and refrain from springing things up on them. I am constantly keeping them in the loop with any regulatory updates that are relevant to us and remind everyone that I am only a message or call away. Being open and approachable as a leader has always been an important quality to have, but never as much as in a time like this.”     – Ong Liling, restaurateur behind The Cicheti Group     Keep up to date with the latest developments at The Cicheti Group’s three restaurants – Bar Cicheti, Cicheti and Caffe Cicheti.  The Projector, cinema operator
How has your business been affected by the Covid-19 situation? ‟The Projector runs a cinema, a bar and a venue for hire to companies for meetings and events. The deferment of large group events in Feb and the mandated closure of cinemas from March 28 has eliminated all these traditional income streams. While the enhanced government support for the month of April is very much welcome, we foresee that the impact of the Covid-19 on the market will last longer than previously expected, so we are putting in place plans, which cover us from now till at least the end of the year.”     What are you doing in the face of this and how can customers still patronise The Projector during this time? ‟With the indefinite period of closure, we are focused on cutting costs, skills upgrading and getting creative with generating new revenue streams. First is the online merchandising initiative. We’d been planning for a potential shut-down scenario (based on what was already going on around the world); it came a bit sooner than expected but thankfully we already had an online merchandising initiative almost ready to launch. Our team worked overnight to launch it immediately and it’s been doing well so far. We have seen strong community support through the purchase of memberships, pre-paid movie vouchers, MICE venue hire vouchers, Adopt-A-Seat opportunities and customised The Projector tote bags.   We have also launched a ‘Project-It-Forward’ initiative, which is very much in our spirit of inclusiveness, where members of the public would be able to donate movie vouchers to strangers. We foresee that with this crisis, people within our community or indeed outside it, may lose gigs and be financially worse off, but we still want to keep our movies and events accessible for creative stimulation and a much needed reprieve in tough times. With this initiative, anyone who needs a pick-me-up at the cinema when we reopen can pick up a voucher for free and watch a movie. No questions asked.   Then, there are the Vimeo-on-demand (VOD) options. The Projector has always stood for bringing people together. The interesting challenge for us now, therefore, is to figure out how we can still bring people together, without doing so physically. During this period of closure, we are also exploring opportunities to create a community experience, even in the times of social distancing. We are teaming up with local distributor Anticipate Pictures to explore VOD options with interactive post-show Q&A sessions. We have just launched Ken Loach’s latest movie Sorry We Missed You on VOD with all proceeds benefiting local indie distributor Anticipate Pictures and The Projector.”     Heard of any other initiatives that you think could help the local creative community? ‟We have received strong community support for our merchandising push. Filmmakers like Kirsten Tan have also reached out to host watch parties to keep our community engaged in this circuit-breaker period. From the government’s end, we welcome the new initiatives under the Enhanced Job Support Scheme, including the higher support levels and the longer support duration. We are also excited by the announcement of a new NAC fund to support digitisation of arts and culture content and look forward to the details to see how we can tap into that for exploring new ways to deliver digital entertainment to our audience.”     What are you doing to keep your own spirits up and those of your team? ‟We read comments on our social media. Our supporters have posted heartfelt messages such as ‘Love your work. Can’t wait until you re-open’, ‘omg must keep them running!!’, ‘Hang in there guys.  You’re all that stands between Singapore and the zombie apocalypse’ and ‘HANG IN THERE BUDDY/NATIONAL TREASURE’ which have gone a long way in boosting our morale in these difficult times. Besides working on exciting new digital projects which we hope to share soon, we have been spending our time making memes, watching Netflix, pestering our pets and exercising to keep sane.”     – Karen Tan and Blaise Trigg-Smith, co-founders of The Projector     Keep up to date with the latest developments at The Projector here.  Anticipate Pictures, film distributor
How has your business been affected by the Covid-19 situation? ‟As we rely on cinemas to release our films, having total closure of these entertainment venues basically reduced our revenue stream for April to near zero.”     What are you doing in the face of this and how can customers still patronise Anticipate Pictures’ offerings during this time? ‟We are releasing and highlighting the option to rent or purchase our past movies on platforms such as Vimeo On Demand and iTunes. We are also working with our cinema partners to release our newest films online as well, with a fair revenue split for every sale or rental we make. We do have a passionate social media fanbase, and we’re activating them by inviting them to participate in special events online such as IG Live and Zoom watch parties of our films.”     Heard of any other initiatives that you think could help the local creative community? ‟I think the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (Sirs) for self-employed freelancers of $1,000 a month for nine months is a huge boost to anybody who ever had to rely on work from companies like mine. While it is not a perfect scheme, and some have noted many will fall through the cracks, it is a good start and signals to workers in the gig economy that they are valued.”     What are you doing to keep your own spirits up and those of your team? ‟We pay everyone promptly as we promised, and keep all communications transparent with regards to our outlook on the coming months. My employees appreciate that and I believe this empowers them to make the appropriate adjustments to their lifestyle to accommodate the tough months ahead.”     – Vincent Quek, founder of Anticipate Pictures     Keep up to date with the latest developments at Anticipate Pictures here. Read our interview with founder Vincent Quek to get an insight into why he decided to go into the film distribution business. Telok Ayer Arts Club, multi-use space combining food, art, drinks and music
How has your business been affected by the Covid-19 situation? ‟It’s been hit rather significantly, and we’ve had to take a short break and cease operations temporarily. With new measures from the government in place being announced all the time, each day brings new challenges but we’re learning to be nimble.”   What are you doing in the face of this and how can customers still patronise Telok Ayer Arts Club during this time? ‟We’re using this short break to regroup and refine our offerings. We’re working on a (new) menu that we hope to launch when we re-open in May. We’re also working with artists to create free content that’ll hopefully inject some cheer to a rather bleak situation – such as fun comics by local illustrators, and digital content like playlists and interviews by artists.”     Heard of any other initiatives that you think could help the local creative community? ‟We believe the NAC is giving out grants to freelancers and self-employed individuals in the arts.”     What are you doing to keep your own spirits up and those of your team? ‟We just check in on each other from time to time, and keep each other inspired by focusing on the fun/creative aspects of the work such as recipes and ideas.”     – Anmari Van Nieuwenhove, arts manager at Telok Ayer Arts Club     Keep up to date with the latest developments at Telok Ayer Arts Club here. On how and what their arts manager Anmari Van Nieuwenhove gets inspired by, check out our interview with her here.  The Artling, online shopping platform and art advisory for Asia-based art and design objects
How has your business been affected by the Covid-19 situation? ‟The art and design world has seen numerous art fairs and almost all major events cancelled or postponed for the next few months, with these events being something that most artists and galleries rely on greatly to sustain themselves. For many galleries, art fairs represent close to 50 per cent of their sales revenue. In times of crisis, the arts can often take a back seat and be lower priority, but we believe that art is even more important now than ever as it has the ability to revitalize, inspire and bring people together all across the world. It may seem difficult right now, but there is an opportunity here to see how we can think about new collaborations and engage in a different level of dialogue.”     What are you doing in the face of this and how can customers still patronise The Artling during this time? ‟While The Artling has many offline advisory projects, we have an amazing reach via our online platform, with over US$140 million (S$198 million) worth of art and design listed with us. Through our main site and our various social media channels, we are able to reach a broad international audience, who are able to access the platform easily from wherever they are.   However with lockdowns happening in cities and countries across the globe, movement is being restricted and we’re seeing international shipments becoming cost-prohibitive and less frequent. In response to this, we have just launched #artinmycity to promote artists, designers and galleries within respective local communities. Customers will then be able to browse locally and see what’s available where they are, avoiding having to deal with international shipments and supporting their local art ecosystem as a result.”     Heard of any other initiatives that you think could help the local creative community? ‟There are many for-profit and nonprofit arts organisations pushing various online campaigns at the moment via Online Viewing Rooms, virtual meet-ups, Zoom calls and social media (mostly on Instagram). There are some hashtags to follow online, such as #artcanhelp #museumfromhome, #cultureathome, #artathome, #artistsupport, and of course #artinmycity. The Singapore government also announced a $55 million ‘boost to save jobs, improve skills and go digital’, which is a great start and very much needed.   Going online now will be more important than ever and as a starting point, we’re encouraging artists, galleries and designers to share more; take more images, post more, create content and figure out new ways to engage with the community online.”     What are you doing to keep your own spirits up and those of your team? ‟Luckily for us, we’re all on the cloud and are constantly connected via Slack and Zoom, which helps tremendously. We sometimes arrange for lunch or coffee catch-ups where we video conference each other for some non-work chat. We’ve also been doing trials of virtual meet-ups, where we’re using avatars in a virtual gallery space – watch this space.”     – Kim Tay, gallery director at The Artling     Keep up to date with the latest developments at The Artling here. Esse The Label, ethical and sustainable womenswear brand
How has your business been affected by the Covid-19 situation? ‟Our business has been profoundly affected by it. From temporary factory closures to delays in shipping due to lockdowns in many countries, this has added additional pressure in our supply chain. Retail sales have also slowed down due to the impact of the pandemic on the economy. As a brand without a physical storefront, we depend on pop-ups and shopping events to meet customers, but many of these have been cancelled due to government advisories and has further impacted us.”     What are you doing in the face of this and how can customers still patronise Esse The Label during this time? ‟We have tried to be as transparent as possible with our customers, updating them regularly, so they can understand the situation and the measures that we’re taking to ensure that everyone, including our makers, remain safe and healthy. The main thing that we ask of customers is to be patient with all local, independent businesses and to continue supporting them if they have the means to do so; so these businesses can continue to survive and keep the lights on during these difficult times. We know that everyone is trying to process the crisis that is happening, so we want to be a little beacon of light, and help to spread some joy during these dark times.    One of the ways we’re doing this is through a series of Instagram Live takeovers. Through these sessions, our community can still interact with independent brands and participate in workshops and activities while being responsible and staying at home. At the same time, small business owners, digital inspirers and girl bosses can utilise our platform to grow their own community and share what they do.”     Heard of any other initiatives that you think could help the local creative community? ‟Most Singaporeans might already be aware of the Singapore government’s Resilience budget for self-employed persons. The Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) will help provide direct cash assistance to the self-employed and they will receive $1,000 in cash every month for nine months. Also, the government’s Self-Employed Persons Training Support scheme will provide sustained support so self-employed persons can make use of this period to train and upgrade their skills. Up to 90 per cent of course fees will be subsidised, and from May 1, the training allowance will be $10 per hour.   For small businesses who have an online store on Shopify, they can check out some of the ways in which it’s helping small businesses. For example, Shopify has made physical and digital gift cards available on all new and existing Shopify plans. They are also hosting webinars designed to help businesses through these uncertain times. Last but not least, independent business owners can look to Facebook which is offering US$100million (S$142 million) in cash grants and ad credits.”     What are you doing to keep your own spirits up and those of your team? ‟We do regular check-ins with our team members and our makers, ensuring they feel connected and cared for. This also gives them the opportunity to reach out for any help or assistance that they may need.”       – Alicia Tsi, founder of Esse The Label     Keep up to date with the latest developments at Esse The Label here. Click here to learn why the brand is on our list of local sustainable brands to know. EOMM (Emporium of the Modern Man), lifestyle retailer and pop-up art space
How has your business been affected by the Covid-19 situation? ‟As expected, foot traffic has drastically gone down this year due to many more people staying home. Sales has been affected indefinitely, even with us pushing promotions and discounts on our social media channels.There has also been postage delays and shipping blocks for overseas orders and incoming stocks, which thankfully most of our customers are understanding about.”     What are you doing in the face of this and how can customers still patronise EOMM during this time? ‟While we are focusing most of our efforts with promoting through social media and other online platforms these few months for EOMM, we’ve also decided to set aside a budget to help creatives and artists by publishing an Open Call on Jalan Besar Salon (EOMM’s art initiative – applications open till April 15) The public can also contribute to local businesses by starting a follow/promo train, by tagging their favourite local businesses for F&B, retail et cetera so more people can support them online through deliveries and such. Every bit counts.”     Heard of any other initiatives that you think could help the local creative community? ‟We’ve been keeping up with the news and supporting other fellow creatives through this Facebook group.”     – Winnie Li, founder of EOMM     Keep up to date with the latest developments at EOMM here. Read what Li thinks about the retail scene in Singapore and how to improve it, here.  Kitchen. Label, record label
How has your business been affected by the Covid-19 situation? ‟As expected, the live side of our music business is bearing the brunt with shows and tours now either cancelled or postponed. For now, our digital music sales have increased compared to the same period of 2019 and it is just enough to offset the drop in collective income from physical music like vinyls due to disruptions in our distribution line around the world. As we stand, it remains to be seen how Covid-19 will affect expected audio streaming volume in the long run on digital platforms like Spotify. At the moment, we are also postponing big releases until the second half of the year as there have been major interruptions in the production and supply chains for our physical music media.”     What are you doing in the face of this and how can customers still patronise Kitchen. Label during this time? ‟We are preparing for some digital-only releases and to also ramp up on our digital contents such as releasing never seen before live footage from our archives to keep our supporters engaged and entertained. We are also in discussion with a few organisers to hold pay-per-view live shows which will be streamed on online platforms in the near future.”     What are you doing to keep your own spirits up and those of your team?  ‟During this downtime and period of uncertainty, music helps us make sense of emotions and connect with our inner selves. Now that live events across the industry are either canceled or postponed, the musicians in our label are currently writing and producing new music. This also presents us with an unique opportunity for more online collaborative music projects and to make meaningful connections across borders between artists.”     – Ricks Ang, founder of Kitchen. Label     Keep up to date with the latest developments at Kitchen. Label here. IndustryPlus, contemporary furniture and design objects producer
How has your business been affected by the Covid-19 situation? ‟We had to postpone ‘Eclecticism’, a showcase of new works by six local designers (including the pink marble chair pictured above by Nathan Yong) that we were planning to launch at this year’s Milan Design Week (now cancelled for 2020) , and bring to other design shows as well.”     What are you doing in the face of this and how can customers still patronise IndustryPlus during this time? ‟We’re in discussions to hold the launch later in the year and are keeping our plans flexible with the rapid developments of the situation. We’re focusing more on local contract projects and digital marketing. We’re also growing ‘Made-in’ (made-in-co.com), a showcase of and e-shop retailing indie design. By indie design we mean independent designers or design studios that produce and sell their work under their own brand.”     Heard of any other initiatives that you think could help the local creative community? ‟Some businesses are selling tote bags and other merchandise to raise funds to tide themselves through this dry spell. The government has also just dropped a solid Resilience Budget that provides support to self-employed persons such as freelancers. A few design events that were cancelled have maintained their support to designers by featuring the work online through images, interviews and podcasts.”     What are you doing to keep your own spirits up and those of your team? ‟We’re taking this time to reflect on the changing landscape of the design industry and recharging for the launch of the Eclecticism collection later this year.”     – P.C. Ee, co-founder of IndustryPlus     Keep up to date with the latest developments at IndustryPlus here. Biro, artisanal menswear label
Hve has your business been affected by the Covid-19 situation? ‟Our retail outlet at Orchard has seen a revenue dip of more than 50 per cent since February. The downturn has been rapid and furious.”     What are you doing in the face of this and how can customers still patronise Biro during this time? ‟We recently launched our F. Classic Drawstring Denim (pictured above) via a pre-order exercise and online shopping. This ensures that we are able to devote optimal time and resources into the actual production of a high-quality product. Producing on demand is also aligned with our sustainability effort and our vision to reduce wastage especially during this period.   Given this time it is also a good opportunity to let us focus on e-commerce, online content and awareness to boost our brand and to engage with our customers digitally. We work to bring the same DNA and aesthetics of our physical space and products to an online experience.”     What are you doing to keep your own spirits up and those of your team? ‟I think the best we can do now is to embrace what we are currently facing and see what we can do to make the best of it. Be resilient, keep going and continue to find ways that could be beneficial to the brand and business during this time.”     – Kenghow Chong, co-founder of Biro     Keep up to date with the latest developments at Biro here. On why the authenticity that comes with artisanal craftsmanship matters so much to Biro, here’s an insight to how they operate.  The Analog Vault, vinyl record retailer and specialist
How has your business been affected by the Covid-19 situation? ‟There has been a definite decline in walk-in traffic. Esplanade Mall, where we are located, has cancelled all concerts and events until the end of April, drastically reducing the number of people here. Tourists typically make up a fair portion of our customer base, but we have lost this as well due to the current situation. On the flip-side, the Esplanade, as a quasi-government institution, has been very supportive to us tenants during such a time. They have extended rental rebates to us in-line with what the government had announced.”     What are you doing in the face of this and how can customers still patronise The Analog Vault during this time? ‟We have re-strategised at the moment to focus on online retail, kicking off with a sale via our online store, which we rarely do. We have even offered free local shipping for the last two weeks of March this year. People can contribute simply by buying good music from us.”     Heard of any other initiatives that you think could help the local creative community?‟As a store, as payback to the creative community, we have historically sought to frequently collaborate with fellow creatives such as musicians, DJs, graphic designers, videographers and such. We continue to brainstorm on ways on how to further support our fellow creatives.We feel very much for the fellow creatives going through these hard times. We are aware there is a support group on Facebook for the creative industry to discuss and find ways to help each other as well as to connect and engage the relevant government bodies as a group.”     What are you doing to keep your own spirits up and those of your team? ‟We are actually currently in the midst of preparing for the launch of a new album via vinyl by the very excellent .gif, a Singapore indie-electronic duo – this has been keeping us very excited for a while now (watch this space for more details please). We launched our record label last year and continue with our aim to push out superlative music by local artists via the vinyl format.   At the same time – we are cleaning our store very thoroughly (while putting on our favourite records of course) – it’s therapeutic!. We are also staying entertained by the bevy of livestreams from our DJ community who are all put out of work right now.”     – Sharon Seet, co-founder of The Analog Vault     Keep up to date with the latest developments at The Analog Vault here. Supermama, design and crafts store
How has your business been affected by the Covid-19 situation? ‟Sales definitely dipped, especially our store in Jewel Changi Airport, there we see a 90 per cent drop in traffic and 70 per cent drop in sales. I foresee this will dip even further in April and May as tougher measures will be in place. Apart from sales, we were planning to participate in Palazzo Litta, during this year’s edition of Milan Design Week. As you know, the showcase was postponed to June and just today, I received news that it will be cancelled.”     What are you doing in the face of this and how can customers still patronise Supermama during this time? ‟Retail wise, we are asking our customers to shop online, and also in June, we will try to present an IG version of the showcase which we are supposed to launch in Milan. For our friends who love our mix of Japanese crafts, we will also present a ‘Takumi Sample Sale’ some time between April and May on our online store. There we will put up works, samples, even failed prototypes from different makers at a discount.”     Heard of any other initiatives that you think could help the local creative community? ‟Design Singapore has got this Good Design Research initiative which I think is apt for a time like this.”     What are you doing to keep your own spirits up and those of your team? ‟I’m trying to get everyone to look forward to 2021 man. If things picks up, even by 50 per cent, that’ll be an exciting year. ”     – Edwin Low, founder of Supermama     Keep up to date with the latest developments at Supermama here. Collective Minds Asia, music promoter
How has your business been affected by the Covid-19 situation? ‟We, just like any other business or individual, have been affected by the situation in a big way. We can’t just think of the situation in terms of profit or financial loss alone, we think about our country, our industry, our communities, and our families. Everyone is suffering.”     What are you doing in the face of this and how can customers still patronise Collective Minds Asia during this time? ‟We’re currently in discussions with many of our fellow community-minded creatives. We’re still open to renting out our venue space to those who will abide by the government’s laws and guidelines during this time as well as contribute to live-streaming endeavors. We urge the public to continue supporting musicians and creatives. Keep tabs on them via their social media channels. Stream their work. Pay for their work. Even though no one can support them by paying for tickets to their live shows at the moment, the least you can do is still show up for them and be there in any way you can at this very difficult time.”     Heard of any other initiatives that you think could help the local creative community? ‟We learned of the #SGStrong Initiative led by The Majurity Trust that’s offering grants to individuals and organizations who are taking the initiative to help their community during this coronavirus crisis. We’re sure there are others, and they’re all amazing. We need to stick together at this time.”     What are you doing to keep your own spirits up and those of your team? ‟We catch-up daily and hold video conferences whenever we can. We send each other heart-warming emojis to show our gratitude and appreciation for one another – it’s in the little things we do and we are taking each day as it comes.”     – Zaran Vachha, founder of Collective Minds Asia     Keep up to date with the latest developments at Collective Minds Asia here. Less Is More, hair salon chain
How has your business been affected by the Covid-19 situation? ‟Most businesses, especially the small and independent ones, are taking a hard hit by this downturn and ours is no exception. Coming in after a traditionally slow post-CNY month, the timing meant a prolonged slow period. With the circuit-breaker measures in place and services limited to just hair cutting, the coming days do not look rosy. Nevertheless we are thankful that we could still be able to provide haircuts for those who need them.”     What are you doing in the face of this and how can customers still patronise  Less Is More’s salons during this time? ‟Hairdressing is a traditional craft which hasn’t been able to transform itself much. We can’t do hair cuts or colour remotely like some other industries and it’s hard to scramble together a strategy in such a short time. So the most direct and effective way to raise revenue is through supplementary income such as sales of products. Products like shampoos are considered essential items and if our customers could support by buying from the salons, it would go a long way to help keep the business going.”     Heard of any other initiatives that you think could help the local creative community? ‟One of the most common initiatives I have came across is to appeal for pledges through community platforms like crowdfunding.”     What are you doing to keep your own spirits up and those of your team? ‟As I’ve just returned from the UK and am currently serving out my SHN at home, I have yet to have any opportunity to speak to the team yet. But the Japanese have proven to be resilient people and I believe for most of them a simple pleasure such as relaxing over a beer is a good enough pick-me-up. As for me, just knowing that everyone around me is healthy is comforting enough.”     – Tan Eng Chong, director at Less Is More     Keep up to date with the latest developments at Less Is More’s salons here and here. The Moon, bookstore, cafe and events space
How has your business been affected by the Covid-19 situation? ‟We’ve been affected quite negatively and seriously over the past two months. The Moon exists as a three-prong business; our entire business model has slowly been affected since the start of the Covid-19 situation. Prior to the circuit-breaker, we started experiencing a high volume of cancellations for bookings at our event space. The cafe was next to be affected, with dwindling tourists and then with the introduction of the social distancing measures, reduced capacity for customers for dine-in at the cafe. On the book’s side, it’s been up and down. People are definitely more interested in reading following the announcement of the circuit-breaker but due to the stay home initiative, we’ve seen a decrease in sales almost every week from the end of February.”     What are you doing in the face of this and how can customers still patronise The Moon during this time? ‟Prior to this global event, we had never considered going online as The Moon was created to be all about the physical experience – from entering the store to browsing the books, getting recommendations by our staff, to getting a coffee at the cafe and to attending our various community events. We have tried to move online, however, and are trying to do our best to recommend books and encourage people to read more during this period. At the moment we will continue to monitor the situation, and try our best at community-building efforts that we can all manage from home.   We have launched a new service on our website called The Moon Mystery – it’s quite simple, you fill out a form and you get a personalised book recommendation from the selection we have available which we will then mail to you. Unfortunately as an independent local business, we’ve reduced our multi-faceted business into one single aspect – the retail of books. We do hope that people would continue purchasing online via our e-store and to follow us on Instagram to keep up with what we have to offer. We might be programming some online events via IG on wellness, so keep your eyes peeled.”     Heard of any other initiatives that you think could help the local creative community? ‟Yes we are, we are participating in chopeandsave.com, a local initiative to get people to get gift cards. Our gift cards work on our e-store only as such we encourage people to buy books online and ship it to their friend’s house as a small surprise.”     What are you doing to keep your own spirits up and those of your team? ‟I’m trying my best to breathe, and stay present in my body and in the moment. I’m generally a big fan of working out, journalling and reading to help centre myself but unfortunately that hasn’t really been working for me much and I’m distracting myself by cleaning different parts of my house. I hope I’m able to eventually settle into a routine and get back to doing the things that I know bring me joy. For The Moon team, we’re keeping discussions between our team live on our Slack channel, sharing memes with each other, and trying to work out ways to encourage each other to stay healthy – both physically and mentally. These are hard times but we can get through it together.”     – Sarah Naeem, founder of The Moon     Keep up to date with the latest developments at The Moon here.