A new generation of local players in the home furnishing industry is taking over the reins to lift their family businesses to greater heights. Singapore Tatler Homes finds out who they are and their visions for the road ahead.

Jamie Lim

Jamie Lim

 

When Jamie Lim, 33, speaks about her father, the respect for her mentor is evident. A carpenter by trade, Lim Pok Chin established a small teak furniture business with his wife in 1978. Named Hawaii Furnishings, the business grew from a 400 sq ft store in Joo Chiat to a multi-store brand, Scanteak, which spans the globe. With over 100 stores worldwide, the company continues to set their sights on expanding globally.

Lim was pursuing a career in marketing films in the US when her father broached the idea of joining the business in 2004. At 25, Lim agreed on the condition that she be allowed free rein to run the business. Her father countered the demand challenging her to convince him of her abilities first. Starting from scratch as a salesperson, she then worked her way up.

Today Lim oversees the business in Singapore as well as the marketing efforts regionally, while her younger brother, Julian oversees the Japan market and the regional procurement efforts. The brother and sister team has a younger sister who has yet to join the family business.

Aside from her busy schedules as a director of the company and mother of a five-month-old girl, Lim is also pursuing an Executive Masters of Business Administration (UCLA-NUS EMBA) programme. Yet Lim has no qualms about going the extra mile. According to her, the satisfaction of knowing her degree will add value to the business, and improve her standing as a role model for her daughter, is what keeps her going.

 

The Prologue Collection from Scanteak, a collaboration between the furniture maker and local design studio Outofstock, features versatile designs suitable for apartment home living. Creations like this Duo coffee table help to optimise the use of floor space in a living room

 

Singapore Tatler: What challenges did you face when you first took over the management?

Jamie Lim: I had to convince my peers and colleagues, who have been working with my father since the founding days, that I have as much mettle as him. Even now, I believe I still have very big shoes to fill. My father leads by example so I have to the same and be constantly watchful of how I represent myself to the staff.

 

Singapore Tatler: What are your short-term goals for the next five years ahead?

Jamie Lim: I would like to increase the number of stores we have in Japan. Our business in Taiwan has grown significantly and we hope that Japan will have a similar success.

 

From left: Single-seater mono sofa, Duo swivel bench; both from Scanteak's Prologue Collection

 

Singapore Tatler: What do you think the local furnishing industry is lacking?

Jamie Lim: I think what we need is more ingenuity in designs. A few years ago, SPRING Singapore (a government agency dedicated to the promotion and growth of local industries) invited me and other industry players to Scandinavia to learn more about how the furnishing companies operated there, and that was an eye-opening trip.

I realised that it was possible to merge innovative designs with functionality in a purse-friendly way so that more people could afford them. That was one of the main inspirations, which prompted me to create the Prologue collection in collaboration with local cross cultural design studio Outofstock. It took two years for us to put the collection together and Prologue is designed and targeted for apartment homes in the city, where homeowners need to optimise their living spaces.

Mono sideboard from Scanteak's Prologue Collection

 

Singapore Tatler: How is the furniture industry landscape changing around the world?

Jamie Lim: Sustainability is becoming a bigger concern. We take environmental conservation very seriously in our business. For every teak tree that is cut down, we plant a new one. Some teak furniture manufacturers discard the smaller teak pieces for fear of instability in their products, but not us; because we use the finger jointing technique. It is more labour-intensive but minimises wastage.

 

 

Photos: Boonwei/Beebox, Scanteak

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