Love, Local

In the past few years, local brands have been thriving in our retail spaces. We speak with Winnie Chan, CEO and Co-founder of Bynd Artisan, to find out more about what it takes to grow a business locally, and spotlight some local brands you should check out.

Our malls have a wide array of global fast fashion brands, restaurant chains, and more, but over the past few years, a rising number of local brands have been popping up in almost every industry, from F&B to fashion, homeware to accessories. Of course, this isn't new to us. After all, we’ve grown up alongside the ubiquitous neighbourhood bakeries and hardware and mama shops. These days, the local businesses that we’re seeing more of are helmed by the younger generation, who are pushing out contemporary products and putting their own spin on once traditional offerings. We’d consider this as a welcome sight, because if there's one thing that we Singaporeans love, it’s our local brands, both new and old.

In 2020, the Singapore Tourism Board launched the Made With Passion initiative to promote local lifestyle brands that embody the Singapore spirit of turning possibilities into reality. Since then, the initiative has seen hundreds of local brands applying to join the lineup of curated brands on the list, while the selected Made With Passion brands have seen an increase in visibility and support from local consumers. In fact, some of these businesses have even gone on to become global brands, setting up shops in countries all around the globe.

That said, we’re curious to find out just how some of these brands have continually grown over the years, so we sat down with Winnie Chan, CEO and Co-founder of local paper and leather goods company Bynd Artisan with stores at Raffles City and ION Orchard, for a chat about the brand’s eight-year-long history and counting. 

For the uninitiated, Bynd Artisan was founded back in 2014 by husband and wife duo, James Quan and Winnie Chan. Image courtesy of Bynd Artisan.

1. Before starting Bynd Artisan with your husband, James, you worked in your family’s paper and leather goods business, Grandluxe, for 22 years. What gave you the push to start your own business after all that time?

Having grown up in a family of book binders has definitely sparked my interest and love for old-school stationery products since I was a little girl. In the past, my grandfather’s business focused on traditional paper and leather goods in a wholesale business format—designing, printing, manufacturing, and distributing to wholesalers.

However, as new technology surfaced and the state of digitisation became indispensable, I started noticing that more and more businesses were incorporating technology in their business models to keep up with the times. My family's business was also slowly decreasing in demand, so I saw the need to come up with a new business model to adapt.

I wanted to preserve the artful craft of bookbinding, letter-type pressing and leather making, while also ensuring that our sunset industry could be viewed in a different light. Hence, I started Bynd Artisan with my husband, James Quan. James has a strong background in corporate gifting spanning over 20 years, so coupled with my experience in the paper and leather goods industry, we were confident that we could make the business work.

We wanted to engage our audience in the process of creating the perfect gift by offering customisable leather and paper goods that are suitable for everyone, for any occasion. We’ve even gone on to incorporate ceramics, textiles, wood, and other natural materials in our product offerings. We also host crafting workshops, and offer bespoke gifting options for corporate settings. At the end of the day, our purpose is to create experiences that bring joy and deliver emotions for our customers and community.

Even after eight years of growing the business, the option of customisation remains one of Bynd Artisan’s top selling points. Image courtesy of Bynd Artisan.

2. Bynd Artisan now has three physical outlets in Singapore, including a collaborative experience store at ION Orchard alongside local dessert company, Sunday Folks. Can you tell us a bit more about how this collaboration came about?

Before we moved into our current location at ION Orchard Level 4, we were occupying a space on B3. However, it was too small and did not allow us to engage as much as we would have liked with our customers, or showcase all our products. Business just felt very transactional at the time, so when it was time to renew our lease, we asked our landlord if we could have a bigger space.

The Bynd Artisan + Sunday Folks ION Experience Store provides a comfortable space for customers to shop, try their hand at a workshop, or relax with some coffee and desserts. Image courtesy of Bynd Artisan.

As fate would have it, our current location on Level 4 was available for lease, and it also happened to be where we held our first pop-up four years ago. However, as it is located on the F&B/Restaurant row, we needed an F&B partner to join us in the space, and Sunday Folks came to mind.

We’ve been neighbours with the Sunday Folks team at Chip Bee Gardens since 2015, so we’re good friends with the founders. We share the same ethos about crafts and a mindset of excellence, so when we approached them about this collaboration, we created a joint vision for the store to be a space where traditional craftsmanship and contemporary culture meet to create a new, original experience with sensory appeals for customers of both brands.

The Bynd Artisan + Sunday Folks ION Experience Store collectively showcases the evolution of both brands through an integrated space, as opposed to having two standalone brands in a segmented space. At our experience store, it’s not about making or consuming more, it’s about making and consuming better. Here, we invite customers to leave the noise of daily life at the entrance and enjoy the journey of customising a handmade gift of their own, pick up a new skill at our crafting workshop, and savour seasonal artisanal dessert creations, complete with a cup of specialty coffee.

In the near future, we hope to grow Bynd Artisan beyond Singapore's shores. In fact, we recently launched our Australia site and have plans for a pop-up in the US soon.


The Uplifting Leather Tags and Leather Immunity Guard Atomiser (LIGA) with Strap are two of Winnie's favourite products in the Bynd Artisan catalogue. Image courtesy of Bynd Artisan.

3. Can you share some of your personal favourite items from the Bynd Artisan catalogue?

My personal favourite would be our Uplifting Leather Tags, which has been such a great way for me to entertain guests at home. I invite each guest to choose their intention for our gathering, and then I use the leather tags to label our wine glasses with words like “Gratitude”, “Joy”, “Wisdom”, and “Dream. It sets the tone for a warm dining experience and helps everyone feel good and positive.

Another personal favourite would be the Leather Immunity Guard Atomiser (LIGA) with Strap. It features a non-toxic, scent-and-alcohol free disinfecting mist, and comes with a leather strap for easy attachment on bags or pouches. I love how it makes the process of disinfecting so accessible.


Growing a business to keep up with the changing times and evolving needs of consumers is no easy task, whether it’s a restaurant chain like Song Fa Bak Kut Teh, or a leather and paper goods brand like Bynd Artisan. This is why we’re firm believers of supporting local wherever and whenever we can, by purchasing pieces from or patronising local stores.

If you don’t know where to start, or are looking to discover new local businesses, we’ve got you covered with this little shopping guide for any and every occasion: 

For hosting gatherings at home

Level up your hosting game by serving up delicious refreshments from local brands, on stunning tableware from local brands. Brew a fresh batch of Osmanthus Dong Ding tea from A Tea Grain Company and serve them up chilled in one of these snazzy Hay Tint Glasses from The Editor’s Market.

Images courtesy of A Tea Grain Company and The Editor’s Market.

For a day out and about with that special someone

Dressing up for date night could be as easy as slipping on a pleated Ivy dress from GINLEE, which is both flattering and fuss-free, and a pair of Metallic Tip Strappy Sandals from Charles & Keith. Add a Gold Twisted Pop Ring from By Invite Only for good measure, and you're good to go.

Images courtesy of GINLEE, Charles & Keith, and By Invite Only.

For the men, throw on a Tencel Pocket Shirt and a pair of chinos from Benjamin Barker for a put-together yet versatile look for a day at the museum or a night at the bar

Images courtesy of Benjamin Barker.

For family day

You know what they say, when it comes to supporting local, you should start them young. Plus, there's nothing cuter than getting the fam all decked out in coordinating outfits.

For pieces that are equal parts functional, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing, look no further than Beyond The Vines. With jumpsuits for moms, dads, and kids, it makes for a great family uniform, or a fun look for a family photoshoot.

Images courtesy of Beyond The Vines.

Pair that with the Ebba Gingham Bag from Love, Bonito for an extra casual look, and some extra space for family necessities.

Of course, there are plenty of local brands that we could rave about, but half the fun is discovering them for yourselves. 

So go ahead and spend a day out at the malls, and you might just find your new local favourite.

Image courtesy of Love, Bonito.

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