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This Singaporean Wants To Make Artisanal Crafts Hip Again With A One-Stop Platform For Just That

When it comes to hobbies, Joyce Tay is a late-bloomer.

“Growing up, I wasn’t artistically inclined and didn’t indulged in hobbies. I actually thought they were a waste of time!” She confessed. If it weren’t for her sister, there wouldn’t have been Nativgo.

Nativgo is Joyce’s creative brainchild. It is an open community working towards to promote and support the learning of artisanal craft and cultural arts not only in Singapore, but the whole world to boot.

“I only started pursuing artistic interests late last year when I was feeling low,” she reveals. However, the air of melancholy proved to be a break in the clouds when Joyce sister’s recommended her to pick up a new hobby as an outlet.

“She was spot-on, because they definitely provided me with a very welcome respite, and the satisfaction of creating your own work, however perfect or imperfect, was very fulfilling for me.”

Nativgo hand-lettering workshops
Image credit: Mye De Leon

Light-Bulb Moment

Since then, Joyce has dipped her toes into crafts such as calligraphy, bookbinding, film photography, and watercolor illustrations. After she started visiting art classes more often, she found herself checking out other workshops that are held overseas.

She discovered there were a great deal of activity booking sites, but there was one glaring problem: not one of them has a specific focus on the artisanal craft and cultural arts niche.

An inspiration bolt hit her, which led her to launch Nativgo.

“On one hand, it was to encourage people like myself to get in touch with their inner creativity through learning artisanal craft and cultural arts. On the other hand, [I wanted] to help promote these artists and what they do to a greater audience,” she adds.

Nativgo workshops
Image credit: Nativgo

Inspiring People Towards A Common Goal

Joyce wears many hats. Besides managing her creative community, she’s also working with an innovation lab; and part of Beam Singapore, a startup that nurtures connections amongst entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, and the media.

Joyce considers herself lucky to be constantly exposed to different industries and people by dint of her career. “I tend to observe and analyse what works and what doesn’t and apply what is relevant to Nativgo.”

Joyce values team spirit and integrity — qualities she hope that can help take Nativgo to a higher tier. “When you have people who believe in what you do and are willing to work together with you to help you achieve your vision and your goal, you have to make sure that you take care of them and give them ample opportunities to learn and grow.”

The same rule applies to making blunders in the business. “It’s okay to make mistakes, but what is more important is to acknowledge bad decisions, cut your losses early, reflect, learn and move on,” she shares.

Image credit: Nativgo
Image credit: Nativgo

Planning For Future Works

The workshops at Nativgo are a labour of love and reflection of Joyce’s favourite crafts.

For the month of September, the creative community will be organising workshops on activities such as brush lettering, modern calligraphy, and terrarium making.

“One thing I hope to be able to achieve is to introduce our users to unique crafts around Asia and for people to warm up to the idea that when you travel overseas, aside from sightseeing and eating local food, picking up a craft there can also be a part of your itinerary,” she says.

In the coming months, Joyce hopes to expands the number of cities and workshops they feature on the site. Content features and contributions from the artists themselves are also in the works.

“Sometime back I penned down a list of all the crafts I wanted to pick up. This would eventually form the initial list of workshops we introduced on Nativgo. Shibori dyeing, jewelry crafting and woodworking rank high on my to-learn list, which is always expanding whenever someone introduces me to something new.”

Nativgo LadyBoss Asia
Image credit: Nativgo

Strengthening Trust And Transparency

For Joyce, developing and maintaining trust amongst the users and artists are her top priority.

“We know users come to our site to find out about quality workshops where they can pick up a skill and have a great time. Before featuring the workshops on our site, we research on the artists and their craft and head down to their studios or drop in on their workshops so we can experience it ourselves first-hand,” she says.

A win-win for both parties, the practice gives Nativgo the opportunity to chat with their artists and craftsmen to get a deeper understanding how the community can help to promote them and their craft.

“An artist once told me this, ‘I can teach you the techniques, but I can’t teach you creativity. That is something you need to find within yourself.’ We want to create an environment where our users can be inspired and get creative through Nativgo.”

Featured Image Credit: Joyce Tay (pictured centre)

 

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