Chairish Community Column
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Chairish Community : Kai | a Minimaker
By Chair-ish the Moments | 23rd Apr, 2020
Sustainability: Celebrating Earth Week
Amid our global climate crisis, is there one thing each of us could do to make our homes greener? The answer is simple. Change begins at home, and taking action is vital. Starting with awareness, we can then pick one thing to work on. Choosing just one thing isn’t overwhelming, and every little action helps. Sometimes, changing just one small thing has a ripple effect that translates into bigger changes along the way.
A simple change would be to swap out single-use plastics in the kitchen, for eco-friendly alternatives. For example, a beeswax wrap can replace the use of clingfilm to wrap food, and the former can be used over and over again. We at Chairish have been using and loving the beeswax wraps from Minimakers, a homegrown company started by Kai. These artisanal wraps are aesthetically pleasing, and come in a variety of lovely patterns. The wraps are effective and versatile and come in a range of sizes. They can be used to cover food, to wrap up a loaf of bread or a block of cheese, or even to pack sandwiches. Using them is simple since you only need to rinse and air-dry the wrap after each use, after which they can be folded and stored.
We sat down with Kai to find out more about how her brand Minimakers was formed, as well as her process of creating the wraps, and came away with a deeper appreciation of how much work goes into making these beeswax wraps.
Chairish: When did you sit down and come up with the idea of developing an eco-brand? What was the initial path you took?
Kai: In 2018 I left my job of 8 years to care for my health, the initial three months was a big adjustment as I learned to create my own structure and re-organize my life and things around the house. As part of this reorganization, I looked into how I can replace single-use items with reusable alternatives as I have always felt guilty about my single-use plastic consumption. When I read about beeswax wraps I was curious, and thought ‘I can make this!’ Needless to say, it was not as easy as it looks (laughs)! I failed miserably as I did not have the right fabric and blend. After many months of trial and error I finally developed a formula I was happy with and did my first pop-up event. I was so encouraged by the reception that I decided to start the company and commit to it full-time.
This was the beginning of Minimakers.
Chairish: How did your previous experience/job help inform your aesthetic?
Kai: I reflect to my husband often that Minimakers is a culmination of all my past experiences and interests. My work experience has mostly been in sales & operations. While that does not really help with aesthetics, it helps me think about how to continuously improve my quality and production process. The aesthetics come from my lifelong interest in art.
Chairish: The style and designs of your wraps are incredibly meticulous, and at the same time, quite nostalgic! Behind those wraps that evince a feeling of playfulness, lightheartedness, and fancy, how has it been collaborating with local designer “The Patternholic”?
Kai: When the name Minimakers was conceived, our vision was to create a place where small makers can work together to share their passion for craft with a wider audience. We are so grateful for our partnerships and the faces behind these brands.
Our capability is continuously advancing and we are now able to partner with local designers like Beatrice from The Patternholic to turn her beautiful fabric designs into wraps. Beatrice has been nothing short of amazing to work with. Her designs are fun, cheerful and it is unbelievable that she accomplished this part-time. Our goal is to help raise awareness for more local makers/designers and to hopefully connect them with other businesses we work with.
Chairish: Tell us about the process of creating a Beeswax wrap, from conception to production.
Kai: It’s a 3-step process.
- Fabric Preparation– Prepare and cut the fabrics, each piece is meticulously checked for quality.
- Waxing– Coat the fabrics with beeswax blend and bake.
- Packaging– Once the wraps are cooled, each piece is quality checked before folding and packaging.
Every wrap is made to order to ensure each customer gets the freshest and best quality wrap.
Chairish: What materials do you use? Tell us how you go about sourcing them.
Kai: Our wraps are handcrafted in Singapore made from four ingredients: cotton fabric, beeswax, tree resin, and jojoba oil. Beeswax and tree resin has antibacterial properties. It provides a protective and breathable layer that keeps food from getting wet or wilted while locking in moisture, flavour and freshness.
We go as close to the source as we can so there is transparency in the production process and quality. We do not compromise or assume the purity of our beeswax suppliers. They are carefully evaluated to ensure no additives, fillers or wax-like substitutes like paraffin.
Chairish: We love that you also introduced a “Sourdough + Beeswax Wrap” Workshop! Who are the people coming to you for lessons? And what does your class cover?
Kai: I partner with my friend Ee Jia who’s a talented sourdough baker. She teaches the basics of sourdough. It’s a hands-on class where participants bake and bring home their own sourdough + starter. Sourdough is a slow-living craft so while we wait for the dough to rise, participants will be designing and printing their own fabrics with me. We then turn these fabrics into beeswax wraps for them to take home along with their bread.
The majority of our participants are women. They come to our workshop to experience and learn something new, most come with their friends and colleagues. It’s a nice way to spend their Saturday, the workshop is conducted in the privacy of my home so it’s super chill and relaxing. Occasionally we get couples, it’s always extra lively when we have the men join us!
Chairish: Do you have any tips on how to encourage people to use more environmentally-friendly products?
Kai: It is helpful to untangle an environmentally-friendly lifestyle from purchasing environmentally-friendly products.
We can choose to live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle with what we already have at home that can be reduced and reused. Personally, I reuse glass jars that I collect from my friends for bubble tea, tiffin carriers for takeout, and adopt second-hand goods from family and friends. This does not incur added cost, but requires some pre-planning and additional effort.
"They get people engaged in a new lifestyle and a new way of thinking about the zero waste movement.” Sometimes buying an eco-friendly product acts as the first stepping stone towards leading a more sustainable lifestyle, so why not take that little step now?
By purchasing eco-friendly products over single-use products whenever possible, you are sending a message to manufacturers that you want to see more of these products on the shelf. It is a numbers game; the more demand or interest there is for these products, the more store owners will want to stock them, which would eventually result in more eco-friendly products being made available in the market.
Aside from choosing greener products, try to support local. Buy from your local independent store, the little shops in your neighbourhood, thrift shops, or small businesses on various shopping platforms in Singapore, before you head over to shop on global sites such as Amazon.
Make a better choice for the environment. Choose well.
Minimakers products are available via their stockists and online at https://minimakers.sg/
170 Upper Bukit Timah Road
#03-56 Bukit Timah Shopping Center
Tanglin Mall #03-06A
Holland Road Shopping Centre #03-01
Little House of Dreams
58 Seng Poh Road #01-15, Singapore 160058
My Little Green Dot
Two Sisters Pantry
50 E Coast Rd, #01-43 Roxy Square, Singapore 428769
Your Sustainable Store
The Art Faculty
Follow Minimakers on:
If you wish to drop Kai a note, you can email her at email@example.com
Posted by Chair-ish the Moments on
Chairish Community: Artpreneur | Dorothea
By Chair-ish the Moments | 2nd Apr, 2020
Any business is built upon relationships, and it is no different for us at Chair-ish the Moments. During this time where anxieties run high, we want to take a step back, and engage in conversations with those around us, as a form of encouragement to others. This is the reason behind our community column, and what better person to kickstart this than our artist behind our 'Birds of Singapore' Prints?
Welcome to the world of Dottieshop. Dorothea, is a stay-at-home-mum who enjoys creating art that inspires others to dream big and live meaningful lives. Dottie was one of her many nicknames growing up, and being a florist was one of her childhood dreams. In time to come, she figured that she enjoyed wielding the pen and paintbrush more than a pair of gardening shears!
In 2015, Dorothea started @dottieshop_sg, offering custom artwork and paper floral arrangements for weddings and other events, as well as a range of ready-to-purchase prints for the home and office. She also runs regular workshops in collaboration with various partners, and has worked with SCAPE Singapore, Bold At Work and Singapore Writer’s Festival. By sharing tools and knowledge, Dorothea’s workshops help to form a collaborative community of makers, where people with different experience levels are given an opportunity to start working with their hands.
CTM: What work do you most enjoy doing?
D: I love to teach! Although I never had plans to become a teacher, I have discovered that I really enjoy coming alongside my students and guiding them to master a new skill. I really like meeting new people and being able to journey with some of them as they take up a new hobby - in calligraphy, weaving or watercolor painting.
CTM: How did you get started in this art business?
D: Back in 2013, when my older boy began preschool, I began having more time to explore personal interests. I had always enjoyed making cards and such, so I dabbled in various ad-hoc card-making projects here and there, to raise funds for charity. I also did several customised projects for weddings, like guest books and ang pow boxes. I was happy to do most of these projects for friends for free, and earning an income from my craft wasn’t something I had considered yet.
In 2015, just for fun, I signed up for a couple of art workshops to learn brush calligraphy and botanical watercolor, and that was when I discovered my love for lettering and watercolor painting. I was hooked right from the start! With regular practice and encouragement from friends, I improved in my penmanship and painting and began making commissioned pieces for friends. I really enjoyed what I was doing, but still there was no plan to turn this into anything more at the time.
Around March 2016, I met Jae from Artify Studio when I brought my son to attend their children’s art class. As we got to know each other, I mentioned that I also enjoy art a lot and showed her some pictures of my work. Mind you, I had no agenda to “market myself” at the time, but as it turned out, Jae was looking to support local artists at the time, and asked if I would consider teaching a workshop for adults at Artify Studio.
This idea was completely new to me, and I was very hesitant at first. I had no experience in any kind of teaching, and I felt like I wasn’t good enough an artist to begin teaching, looking at all the amazing artist feeds you can find on Instagram.
But, “Why not just give it a try?” Jae encouraged me.
I prayed about the decision and discussed it with my husband (who was and is super supportive!), and decided to give it a shot. And so, I spent the next few weeks furiously working out what I wanted to teach and how I would teach it, and then conducted my first ever watercolor floral workshop in May 2016 with a small group of ladies (I think there were 4-6 pax?) at Artify Studio.
Fast forward to today, and I have now conducted over 200 workshops over the past almost-4 years. Along the way, I have celebrated personal victories, improved in my craft, cried over spilt milk and people problems, struggled with inadequacy and rejoiced at answered prayers. When I look back at the journey thus far, and the people who have walked with me to where I am today, I am truly humbled and thankful.
CTM: What does your work aim to say?
D: I believe that all of us are born with a creative’s heart. It’s just that we create in different ways – some of us craft computer programs, some of us whip up amazing meals, and some of us build tall skyscrapers. My work seeks to create beauty in the way God has wired me to create. My prayer is that every artwork I put out, whether it be a commissioned piece or a personal project, speaks to someone’s heart, and reminds them that they are known, loved and worthy.
CTM: What’s your strongest memory of your childhood?
D: Taking walks with my grandfather around my grandparents’ house! They were staying near a Kampung when I was very young, and I remember seeing chickens and stray dogs roaming around, and plucking jambu fruit from the trees to eat. Sometimes, my grandpa would carry me on his shoulders for these walks. One time, I was naughty and ran too fast, and fell into a drain – one of those big roadside drains that are not so commonly seen in Singapore today. I was badly frightened and scraped my legs. After that, I was always very cautious when walking near drains again.
On weekdays, I would go to their house after school, and in the evening, I would sit on my grandpa’s lap to watch the daily sitcom on Channel 8. That was probably when I learnt to read fast – I would be speed reading all the subtitles instead of listening to the Mandarin being spoken. That’s probably why speaking Mandarin has never been my strong suit!
CTM: Is there an artwork here you are most proud of? We were so happy to collaborate with you on our ‘Birds of Singapore’ series!
D: Well, at the moment, the 'Birds of Singapore' series is actually the artwork I am most proud of! It’s certainly the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken, and my first collaboration with a local business. I thoroughly enjoyed the illustrating process, and gained so many valuable lessons in editing and marketing through our times of discussion. Seeing our birds morph from pencil sketches to watercolor illustrations, fine-tuning the layouts and alignment and text, and then seeing the finished pieces hot off the printer… it’s just very satisfying to see our dream come to life! All those late nights and long whatsapp chats were worth it. And last but certainly not least, I really love looking at the finished products – both the poster and the postcards – and feel really glad that we persevered to complete them!
CTM: Who are your biggest influences?
D: When it comes to words, I love Kristen Kiong’s (@kristenkiong) style of watercolor calligraphy and Charis Cheam’s (@giftsofgracedesign) brush lettering. I am always inspired by the beautiful flatlays done by artists like Charis, and sometimes wish I had a better handle on how to take such gorgeous photographs! As for watercolor painting, I love the works of so many different artists, really! But if I had to pick just a few, they would be Pearlyn Kim (@pearlynkim), Emma Chong (@fleurabbit) and Ruth Chou Simons (@gracelaced). I also like the lovely paper florals done by Eileen Lim (@misspetalandbloom)!
CTM: Is there a particular art piece you like the most?
D: My favourite piece of art was done by my boys then aged 1 and 3 years old. I distinctly remember the day when I let them get totally messy with a box of finger paints on a roll of Ikea MALA drawing paper taped onto the floor. Within seconds, their hands, tummies, legs and diapers were all covered in paint. And then one of them decided to walk onto the paper and little painted footprints started going around the room. At that point, about five minutes in, I did think of stopping the party there. But then I remembered that they are young only once, and that the paint is fully washable, so I decided to let them carry on. Half an hour later, I had a very colorful living room floor and a gorgeous one-of-a-kind piece of art for our home. It stills hangs on our living room wall today!
CTM: What memorable responses have you had to your work?
D: I was really encouraged when different people told me that the bird illustrations were very lifelike and frame-worthy. I’m also thankful for those who have sent me private messages or commented on my social media posts before, to tell me that a particular piece spoke to them or caught their eye. These one-liner responses really make my day!
CTM: What is your dream project?
D: My dream project would be to create a collection of prints from A-Z that combine a cute illustration and a quirky but impactful quote! I’ve had this idea for some time now, but just haven’t had the bandwidth to really plan out and source for matching quotes and creature – but now that I’m taking a break from workshops in the month of April, maybe it’s time to get started on that…
Chairish Closing Thoughts:
We were really glad to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Dorothea on our 'Birds of Singapore' prints. Collaborations require mutual respect, open communication, and the willingness to work things out. It is a joint effort - a collective exploration. But add a creative partner (or two) to the mix and you have enough knowledge and experience to spark a multitude of creative advancements and power a successful partnership. Together, we were able to draw on everyone’s skills, experience and perspective to create the 'Birds of Singapore' prints, and we are certainly proud of what has come from this collaboration.
Dorothea’s last thoughts: “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine this happening when I started watercolor painting a short five years ago.” It is our hope that we can continue to dream big dreams when it comes to creating something!
Here’s where you can find Dottieshop:
Stockists (Birds of Singapore) -
Chair-ish the Moments:
Woods in the Books:
Stockist (Coloring Books) -
Follow Dottieshop at: