The Little Drom Store @ SOTA. 2014.
Today we speak to Stanley and Antoinette, founders of The Little Drom Store from Singapore.
Yanda: Please tell us what do you do?
Stanley and Antoinette: We run an art & design driven retail store, called “the little dröm store”.
We aspire to bring people from all creative walks of life, to promote and share their work with the rest of the world.
How did it all started?
As graphic designers, we would always bookmark websites and dog-ear magazines of things we like and found inspiring.
So we wanted a place where we could retail such products, and we had this little desire in wanting to shake things up a little in our creative landscape. And in our own little efforts, we wanted to provide a shopping option for alternative products in Singapore.
Has it been fulfilling so far?
What were the challenges starting out?
The main challenge definitely had to be finances, we almost emptied our savings from working full time when we started out.
It was extremely challenging, especially mentally and morally when we had literally zero sales on some days, and rental in Singapore as we know ain’t cheap at all.
Who do you think your target audience are?
They are people who appreciates tasteful and well designed products.
So it is more for the niche and not the mass market?
(this is a long reply, but its one of our best eureka moments)
We must admit that we were quite self indulgent & naive when we first started out, only wanting to sell things that were designed by obscure and independent designers or artists from overseas, and even produced in limited edition! Which brought us to realise (as hard truth), that in reality not many people cared much about such details. If a product doesn’t relate to them, they’ll simply walk away from it.
But what opened up our perspective was when we were invited to showcase our series of Mosaic Playground photos for the M1 Fringe Festival in 2011 – in conjunction with that showcase, we designed and produced a series of mosaic playground brooches, as our own efforts of keeping these playgrounds close to our hearts while the actual ones were slowly being demolished. This was our first series of self designed and produced products.
And after launching them at our shop, the reactions that came from our customers were priceless! Because of these brooches, many of them started sharing their own personal memories with us, and us with them, and word got around and more people came to buy them. These exchanges were so precious because for the first time, we felt such great satisfaction and appreciation from our customers. Our customers were really generous with their words of encouragement. This had really opened up our perspective because we realized and understood the importance of authenticity and relatability in a product.
Back then, customers would comment that our store was quirky & interesting but not many made actual purchases. And this series of playground brooches kinda turned things around.
We had learnt that for the little dröm store, is to innovate and not imitate.
To innovate by bringing out the best from what we have in Sinagpore, as Singaporeans, and not strive to want to be like shops that we admire from overseas.
So in a nutshell, we had learn that we just want to design products that are honest, tasteful and hopefully bring about some smiles. So in that sense, we believe everyone deserves products that are tasteful & well designed, and we cater to anyone who appreciates them.
What was totally unexpected?
People from overseas having heard about our store and writing in to say how they had loved what we do and to encourage us! Sometimes even mailing gifts from overseas, that was very sweet. What was even more unexpected was when some of them eventually visit Singapore and our store!
Was there actually a business plan from the start?
To be totally honest – No, we didn’t when we started out. It was out of pure and childlike faith in wanting to change Singapore’s creative landscape and make it more exciting, to create a platform for creative exchanges.
Our plan was more of an idealistic one, without much practical business wisdom, but we had learnt a great deal over the years, especially from failures and discouragements.
The Part In The Story Where We Lost Count Of The Days is an artist book and monograph that reflects on the artistic practice of Singaporean artist Heman Chong. Acting as both maker of objects and facilitator of situations, Chong’s work sits at the intersection of multiple genres: visual art, performance, writing, installation and science fiction. Through commissioned texts and explanations of Chong’s selected projects, this publication seeks to engage and unravel these categories as well as to highlight their overlapping and circuitous nature.
Edited by Pauline J. Yao and designed by H55 in Singapore, The Part In The Story Where We Lost Count Of The Days features new texts by Nav Haq, Ahmad Mashadi, Claudia Pestana, and Tirdad Zolghadr, and an illustrated project index by Amanda Lee Koe.