Win-win situation

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Win-win situation
Former ad agency art director Iris Tan, owner of Clothes Curator.

Clothes Curator

2/F, 69 Tiong Bahru Road

6438 9622

Hours: 12pm-7.30pm (Mon-Tues, Fri-Sun), closed Wed

What's a budding entrepreneur with limited resources in a neighbourhood with rising rentals to do?

What every kampung dweller of yore would have done: share. Sequestered away on the second floor of year-old The Dispensary cafe in Tiong Bahru is the Clothes Curator, a four-month old clothes boutique run by former ad agency art director Iris Tan.

The Tiong Bahru resident of seven years was looking for a space in the neighbourhood to run her own business, but landlords were asking for frightful amounts in monthly rent for retail units in the rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood.

She then chanced upon The Dispensary, and struck a deal to carve out a 320 square foot nook on the 2,200 sq ft cafe's upper floor as a petite boutique.

Aside from two labels, Tata and Exotic by Hong Kong designer Carmen Wong, the rest of the mainly cotton and linen apparel in loose fitting forms and handmade jewellery and accessories are individually handpicked from South Korea by Ms Tan and her business partner, who also owns Oka boutique in Far East Plaza.

Prices range from S$40 for a t-shirt to S$189 for a dress.

The second floor space with no street-level visibility was no deterrent, says Ms Tan, who says most of her customers either heard about her through social media and by word-of-mouth recommendations from other shoppers.

Or they are cafe patrons who chanced upon the store accidentally.

Combining the two national past times of eating and shopping is a no-brainer, according to Ms Tan.

"When the women are shopping, the men can have a coffee or read the papers - it's a win-win situation for everyone," she laughs.


This article was first published on Oct 4, 2014.
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