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Home-based businesses don't always need to stay as passion projects. Here are six Singaporeans that managed to take it to the next level.

Jae Chia  |  SG
Published 2020-12-22 16:17:38
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When Covid-19 struck us, we were forced to stay at home.

For those looking for an alternative stream of income to others working on passion projects, Covid-19 has made starting a home-based business more possible than ever before.

With the movement to support local brands, more Singaporeans have also been open towards patronising home-based businesses.

Home businesses have been making waves online for their home-made food items or trinkets.

Here are six businesses that not only started off as passion projects, but did so well that they expanded to physical outlets.

1. Love, Bonito

Rachel Lim, Co-founder of Love, Bonito / Image Credit: Ladyboss Asia 

Love, Bonito has become a popular homegrown brand over the years, and its founding story has been widely publicised.

The brand started off as a blogshop called Bonito Chico in 2005.

Back then, e-commerce was still at an early stage in Singapore, and co-founders Rachel Lim, Viola Tan and Velda Tan were some of the pioneers in the blogshop space.

Since they were still schooling, selling clothes online was a way for them to earn extra pocket money.

The three of them pooled in a total of S$500 into starting the business.

The home business quickly turned into a full-fledged one, with Rachel even dropping out of Nanyang Technology University when she was 19 to focus on building the brand.

In 2010, the brand ventured into designing its own original pieces, and also rebranded to Love, Bonito.

By 2015, the brand had expanded beyond Singapore’s borders — to Malaysia and Indonesia, and then Cambodia in 2016.

It also opened its first flagship store in Singapore in 2017.

The brand has since has since grown into a multi-million dollar fashion powerhouse, and currently has four outlets in Singapore.

2. Sugar(ed)

Sugar(ed)
Jasmine Yong, founder of Sugar(ed) / Image Credit: Sugar(ed)

Jasmine Yong started up Sugar(ed) in 2016 when she was just 27 years old.

Sugar(ed) is Singapore’s first body sugaring studio, and provides organic hair removal services.

With sugaring, the sugar paste is heated to body temperature. It is then applied onto the skin, and hair is removed in the natural direction of growth, picking up on dead skin cells.

The ex-SIA stewardess started Sugar(ed) as a home-based business, and told Vulcan Post in a separate interview that at the start, she only had five customers.

Thanks to the power of word-of-mouth, her customer base quadrupled in a span of nine months.

It gradually grew to 500 customers over three years — to a point where her house could no longer accommodate them.

She then opened her very first brick-and-mortar studio in 2016 in the heart of Bukit Timah and other subsequent studios with each passing year — Katong in 2017, Keong Saik Road in 2018 and Upper Thomson Road in 2019.

3. Nasty Cookie

Nasty Cookie
Image Credit: Nasty Cookie

The 23-year-old founder of Nasty Cookie founded the business for a simple reason — she wanted to raise funds for a trip to Australia.

Regine Sum told Vulcan Post in a separate interview that she wanted to give cookies a “modern twist” and embarked on a journey to create Levain Bakery-inspired cookies.

She launched Nasty Cookie’s website in October 2018, and managed to sell over 800 cookies barely two weeks into launch.

What was supposed to be a short-term gig to earn a little extra money turned into a promising business opportunity.

In 2019, Nasty Cookie opened its first offline store opened at Funan mall to much fanfare.

Subsequently, the gourmet cookie brand opened its flagship outlet at Kaki Bukit this year.

Called the Nasty Factory, the cookie shop’s flagship concept store houses its central kitchen, office, as well as its own retail cafe space.

4. Vintage Weekend

Vintagewknd
Eileen Tan and Eden Tay, Co-founders of Vintagewknd / Image Credit: Vintagewknd

Eileen Tan and her co-founder and partner Eden Tay were just 23 when they first launched Vintagewknd as a side hustle in 2015.

The duo started the brand as a passion project, and sold their carefully curated vintage pieces on Carousell.

Between 2016 to 2018, they both held full-time jobs. Aside from running Vintagewknd part-time, Eileen was working full-time at an oil and gas firm and Eden was completing his university degree.

In December 2018, the two of them took a leap of faith and launched Vintagewknd as a full-time project.

To date, Vintagewknd has re-homed over 36,000 vintage and reworked items.

A social media-based brand, the e-store has 28,000 followers on Instagram, with over 30,000 webstore visits per month.

Despite the virtual focus, Vintagewknd has made its rounds in the physical space. The brand has participated in ARTBOX, Geylang Bazaar, mall events, and monthly in-house sales.

5. Overrice

Overrice
Image Credit: Overrice

Drawing inspiration from New York City’s The Halal Guys, Overrice dishes out Mediterranean rice bowls.

Overrice was started by a group of four friends: Shaun Dominic Rishi, 37, Hakim Abdullah, 29, Wan Azhar, 27, and Zuhilmi Zailani, 28.

According to 8days, the business began during the circuit breaker, and the four founders had carry out R&D remotely.

Overrice ran as a home-based business, selling almost 100 bowls a day during its peak.

Thus, the four decided to take a huge risk and open a brick and mortar store during these uncertain times.

The F&B joint now has a physical store along the bustling Arab Street.

6. Bachelor Brothers

Senior Minister of State in the Ministry for Manpower and Ministry for Defence Zaqy Mohamad at the Bachelor Brothers store / Image Credit: Bachelor Brothers

During the circuit breaker, fashion designer Raffiey Nasir started a home-based business selling his bakes and a variety of other sweet treats.

According to Raffiey in an interview with TODAYOnline, the response he got from customers was “overwhelming”.

Thus, he decided to take the next step and open a physical store. In July, he set up the Bachelor Brothers takeaway joint along Joo Chiat road.

Bachelor Brothers now serves up a large variety of desserts and pastries, and is known as the ‘House of Cake’.

Home-Based Businesses Don’t Always Have To Remain Small

Many people do not start home-based businesses with the intention of expanding them to physical stores, or even regional brands.

However, these examples show us that if expansion is part of your plan when starting a home business, it isn’t a pipe dream.

From Love, Bonito to Nasty Cookie, part-time side hustles to earn more income became full-fledged brands.

This suggests that your passion project might just be the next homegrown brand so dream big.

Featured Image Credit: Prestige / Lady Boss Asia / CATCH Online / Bachelor Brothers / Overrice

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