topThere are a lot of ways to educate our kids to look after the planet, but first and foremost we need people they can look up to – who can inspire them to do good in innovative ways. These are the people that have made it their lives work to get us to change our habits – to avoid plastic packaging, to buy products that are produced sustainably and fair and who care about that what we eat and drink is both good for us and the planet. Meet the eco-warriors behind three recent initiatives in Singapore. Our Second Entry is: The Social Space.
The Social Space
6 months ago there was nothing at this 333 Kreta Ayer unit, not even an electricity socket. A table was imported from Bali and Daniel started making his own chairs, all while learning how to be a coffee barista! Cheryl, who was running her nail business, had to work out how you run a retail shop while doing the paint job in the unit. Today, the café/shop/nail salon is full most of the day and The Social Space has had an overwhelming response and already earned a reputation with regulars and the media.
A deserved reputation. Everything you see in the Space is done by the couple Cheryl Ou and Daniel Yeow and whether it’s the food, drinks, nail treatment or the products you buy, all has been carefully chosen from social enterprises or/and products made from natural ingredients.
But, The Social Space nearly didn’t happen. While Cheryl had been working on the idea for a while, she was faced with so many obstacles on the way, that she nearly gave up. Simultaneously, Daniel had been offered a new job with his employer Singapore Airlines in India, so running this type of business long distance seemed too much of a challenge.
But then Daniel, whose heart was always in conscious living – but who’d never run a kitchen or done retail before, made a tough decision. One day he simply said to his wife: “I’ll help you”, and quit his job.
Needless to say, Cheryl was happy:
“I had run the Nail Social for a while, but always dreamt of a bigger space where you could also have coffee and buy products. I’d initially teamed up with a partner who pulled out, and while living in Bali at the time + the prospect of moving to India, I’m quite sure I had given up if Daniel hadn’t stepped in. Thankfully Daniel was already keen to start up on his own, and I think the combination of his environmental interest and my people interest has been a great combination when creating this Space”.
Cheryl was already running the socially responsible business The Nail Social. Before this, she’d ventured into starting up a successful backpacker hotel, but the partnership with the investor went nasty and ended up in a 1-year lawsuit, where she was left with nothing. Consequently she ventured into selling jewellery made by local artisans, but despite now working with a project close to her heart, this also proved too difficult in Singapore. The Nail Social came about when she looked at how she could use her own competences best:
“I thought, what am I good at? Nails. I’d worked in that industry previously, and surely there are a lot of people who struggle or single mothers who I can help by training and hiring them, so I can combine a nail business with social responsibility “, she says.
The Nail Social, which is now in both Haji Lane and The Social Space has of course toxic free nail polish, but going 100% organic is unfortunatley not possible with a product like this, Cheryl adds.
Using your compenteces while following your dreams have worked for Daniel and Cheryl, but having a conscious business does not mean that they as owners are 100% conscious and responsible in their own lives:
“We do out best here, but we’re on a journey too, and are by no means perfect ourselves. We try and hopefully this can be inspiration to others. There are no pointed fingers, we don’t want to scare anyone off who’d like to visit our Space”.
Get a tour of The Social Space and hear Daniel and Cheryl explain the stories behind some of their favourite sells. We paid a visit on the day The Nail Social opened for business in the Space: