Bynd Artisan co-founders Winnie Chan and James Quan have great synergy. At home, the couple are parents of two children, who are turning 23 and 21 this year, and are typically cheerful and pally with their grown-up children. At work, their fervour keeps them going at new ideas that have led them to create on-trend leather products.
Between themselves and their veteran craftsmen, numerous concepts have been sparked for new, innovative products. Just recently during this Covid-19 pandemic, Chan bought hand sanitisers for her staff, and it occurred to her that a leather-bound hand sanitiser holder would be really handy and classy. One of her senior craftsmen then took to the task of designing it.
Bynd Artisan’s experiential retail concept is also known for its artisanal workshops, including some conducted in collaboration with different artists.
Chan’s grandfather started a small bindery workshop in 1942. For the craftsmen to keep up with the times, the couple created Bynd Artisan in 2014 to offer an experiential retail concept where their craftsmanship was being worked in its open concept for shoppers to appreciate. Quan always jokes that it is their third baby. Besides the couple’s own passion for the business, the five craftsmen inherited from Chan’s family business also push them on.
“My grandfather Chan Koon Song started Singapore’s first bookbindery in the 1940s in a small shop house along Mohammed Sultan Road. Today, my grandfather’s spirit of artisanal excellence lives on through the work of our craftsmen at Bynd Artisan. Besides paying tribute to this heritage, we also celebrate our craftsmen, many of whom have spent their whole lifetimes learning and honing artisanal skills — skills lost to the digital age if we do not rekindle the interest in traditional craftsmanship. I have worked with some of our elderly artisans for 30 years! These are our pioneer generation who have seen Singapore go through ups and downs,” says Chan.
Despite the current work-from-home arrangement, the flow of creativity and refreshing ideas from the team, young and old (the oldest craftsmen among them is 78 years old this year), keeps coming in waves.
For instance, to commemorate Mother’s Day this 10th May, Bynd Artisan launched naturale leatherette bound parenting journal with the words “My Beginnings” stamped on the cover. The leatherette cover mimics the look and feel of real leather, while being waterproof and does not fade with age. There’s also the option to engrave one’s name on it, of course.
Parents can use the journal to document the growth of a new child, or simply to pen down their thoughts and memories of their grown children. The journey starts from “My Mum & Dad” to “Me In The Womb”, “My Arrival” and “My First Year”. A variety of activity pages are lined, printed with fill-in-the-blanks, created for milestones, and filled with charts for tracking growth. There are even pockets of spaces for pictures and handwritten notes to document precious moments — memories that can be passed on for generations.
The journal also comes with two pregnancy guide books on pregnancy expectations and shopping options, thanks to the support of friends, obstetrician and gynaecologist Ann Tan and founder of Motherswork Sharon Wong. In addition to being available on the Bynd Artisan website, the journals are also available at Motherswork stores and Dr Ann Tan’s Women Fertility & Fetal Centre, located at Mount Elizabeth Orchard, besides Bynd Artisan ateliers.
30 of Chan’s influencer friends have already started on their journaling — they held a Zoom party on 24th April 2020 during its launch to share how they’ve personalised this book that documents their journey as parents.
Among these influencer-friends, there are former TV producer from Shanghai, Jamie Wu Qian Qian, who now lives in Singapore with her husband; multi-business entrepreneur Lynn Yeow; and CEO of baby bottle and breastfeeding pump brand Hegen, Yvon Bock.