For Edwin Low, the leap from design lecturer to business owner required more than a few hail marys to keep design-centric lifestyle store Supermama from insolvency during its first few years of operations.
When the business began in 2010, its first month revenue was a demoralising $600. The second month fared a tad better, at just over $1,000.
“My design friends said I had gone to the ‘dark side’ when I first started the store, while my business friends said I made a lot of unwise decisions,” he recalls. “For example, there were some product designs that I knew were not going to sell, but they told a good story so I still produced them—a businessman wouldn’t do that.”
It took four years for Supermama, lovingly named after his wife, Lee Mei Ling, to eventually turn a profit. And today, the brand has managed to achieve what most only covet: a cult following of devotees who have embraced Supermama’s unique genre of contemporary ceramic products designed locally with a distinct Singaporean identity, yet made to the highest standards of traditional craftsmanship in Japan.
It was a marriage of culture and aesthetic the country had not seen, with Supermama collaborating with more than 100 designers and artists to date, and even snagging the President’s Design Award in 2013.