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4 minute read

How Small Businesses Flew the Flag by Coming Together During Circuit Breaker

From jewellery designers to bubble tea vendors, these local entrepreneurs found strength in each other by collaborating during tough times

Coming together to face adversity usually benefits everyone. This appears to be particularly true when it comes to local small businesses. With the onset of Covid19 earlier this year and the introduction of necessary Circuit Breaker restrictions, many of these businesses were affected in the country, where small businesses form the beating heart of the economy.

However, these tough times also brought out the best in them. With resolve, ingenuity, and flexibility, some of these companies found support in each other to weather the storm. It was not only a case of strength in numbers, but also good business sense. 

By working together and collaborating with like-minded small businesses in innovative ways, these firms managed to serve their customer base, expand their product portfolio, and continue to generate revenue. 

Here are some of the local companies and entrepreneurs that proved their mettle by succeeding through clever collaborations during Circuit Breaker.

Image credit: Instagram (left); (right)

Double down, not shutdown 

JeannieRichard is an online local jewellery design company founded by husband and wife duo Jeannie and Richard. The pandemic hit as the ‘slow-jewellery’ label, which emphasises on less waste and more sustainability, was planning to set up its first physical pop-up stores. So what did they do? They went on the offensive. The brand collaborated with other local retailers such as Jo Kilda, Tria the Label, and Nodspark by offering discounts of up to 15% and giveaways such as earrings to entice new customers. The label also boosted its presence on social media, especially on Instagram Stories, which helped build a “closer and more sincere relationship” with clients that continues to pay off even after the end of the lockdown. 

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“While we were fortunate to experience high returns during the circuit breaker, I believe it’s not the discounts that were the main attraction for our customers,” said co-founder Jeannie Yeo. “It was because they appreciated the concept of ‘slow jewellery’ and were supportive of local brands during these challenging times.”

Image credit: Liho (left)

Thinking out of the bubble

As the Circuit Breaker came into effect, Bubble Tea vendors – considered a “non-essential service” – were forced to close. Some of them such as LiHo Tea came up with an innovative strategy to partner with F&B outlets in order to stay in business. In LiHo Tea’s case, they teamed up with sister company Paik’s Bibim to offer bubble tea with food deliveries. They also collaborated with Gong Yuan Ma La Tang outlets, Woo Ricebox,and Tino’s Pizza. It was a win for all parties with LiHo Tea being able to access these restaurants’ customer base and in return introduce its own bubble tea-thirsty clientele to the partners.

Image credit: Youtube (left)

Hitting the right note

If anyone knows how to collaborate, it’s musicians. With live events and performances indefinitely cancelled, some of Singapore’s acclaimed and popular artists made sure that the show goes on by collaborating on new music. Among them are singer-songwriters Gentle Bones a.k.a Joel Tan and Charlie Lim. They teamed up to provide both their fans a dream collaboration with the song ‘Two Sides’. This star-powered track made available via most music streaming platforms ensured that the two musicians stayed in the limelight during hard times. It is also a testament to the importance of finding the right fit for successful collaborations.

Image credit: Torasho Ramen (left); Ristorante Luka (right)

Food for thought

They couldn’t have been a more disparate pairing, except for the fact that they both serve up delicious cuisine. Torasho Ramen & Charcoal Bar is known for its bowls of Japanese noodles, while Ristorante Luka serves up contemporary Italian food. When the Circuit Breaker came into effect, both F&B merchants turned to each other to create a special collaboration delivery menu. The move resulted in the creation of fusion pizzas and burgers, among others using the best of both restaurants. The new offerings were not only an opportunity to up-sell to existing clients but also increase sales by attracting new customers at a time when restaurants were open only for delivery.

“The initiative was well received and a lot of our customers want us to continue with the collaboration,” said Mr Tora Widjaja, owner of Torasho. “We have also seen an increase in followers on social media and in our overall reach.”

Standing united

As seen above, collaborations are a great way for small businesses to overcome the hurdles and obstacles of running a business during tough times. They offer opportunities to not only get through the rough patch but also — when done right — increase sales and market share. That’s usually a challenge even during the best of times. But this difficult period has proven that our local companies do truly epitomise the spirit of #TogetherStrongerSG. 

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