By Janis Zhang
A lover of crafts, visual communication graduate Mindy Alethia Chow from the School of Art, Design and Media (ADM)'s Class of 2016 discovered her flair for entrepreneurship while in school. The young Mindy would paint on white shoes and carve stamps from erasers to sell to her friends, and when she was eight, Mindy was creating trinkets and toys to sell to her younger brother.
Today, Mindy is the founder of SOAMI (pronounced as "sow me"), a made-in-Singapore lifestyle jewellery brand that runs from affordable stainless steel and 18K gold vermeil jewellery to bespoke fine jewellery. SOAMI is a word blend of the phrase "so am I", which - according to the brand's website - suggests that "we have more in common with each other than we'd like to believe".
Founded in 2017, SOAMI offers engraving services on most of its products and in January this year launched its flagship store at the Raffles City shopping mall.
We ask Mindy about the inspiration behind SOAMI, the challenges she faced, and her advice for entrepreneurs starting out on this journey.
What led you to launch SOAMI and what are you currently working on?
I started SOAMI as a brand that would tell stories and I have always been adamant that it would retain the customisable aspect of our jewellery pieces.
I am currently working on our solid gold line with gorgeous modern artisanal pieces, glistening diamonds and clear stones. Within the next two years, I aim to establish an overseas presence too.
What inspired you to start your own jewellery boutique?
I love creating, connecting and jewellery, and I am passionate about meaning and intention. My background is in branding and design, so naturally, there was no better way to do both than to channel all that chaos into a brand of my own.
Did you face any challenges in this journey and how did you overcome them? Any lessons learnt?
This is only our first year in a physical boutique in the heart of town, so we are swimming in deep waters with floats. We strive to understand the customers here and adapt as we go along.
Customisation is labour-intensive and to be able to build a team of dedicated, meticulous individuals is a huge blessing. Retail is unpredictable, but we work with what we have and do what we can. We educate customers about the products, are attentive to the market, create stunning visuals, make good public relations decisions, organise events, get creative, and think out of the box.
What is your greatest achievement in this venture?
Opening this store is by far, my greatest achievement.
How did your education in NTU's School of Art, Design and Media help you in your business endeavour?
I had the privilege to learn from some of the most inspiring professors. Astrid Kensinger and Galina Mihaleva are two professors among others who greatly inspired me and created the kind of space that pushes students to blossom.
These amazing women brought their creative worlds into the classes and demonstrated the power and influence that art and creation could have on people.
My time in Visual Communication has equipped me with the skillsets to design not just posters and magazines, but also the entire branding of SOAMI.
Now as an established entrepreneur, what advice would you give to your younger self?
Never underestimate the power of believing in what you're putting out there. When you start believing in it, others will too.