All About Love
All Planned Out, Or So We Thought
The seeds for the All About Love collection were first planted 4 years ago. Back then, I was President of the Association of Women Doctors, Singapore. Li Ying, of Ying The Label, and I were spit-balling about fund-raising ideas. However there didn’t seem to be the perfect time to launch the perfect collection. As time went by, the collection morphed according to our collective experience and inspiration.
Finally, we decided to go ahead and launch it on Valentine’s Day of 2020. We had the perfect event planned with a list of all our guests, speeches, fashion shows, the works. It was gonna be lights, camera, action! In particular, I wanted to invite friends from KKH, the pediatric hospital I had just resigned from. In my mind, it would be a wonderful farewell party to show my colleagues the new adventures I would delve into.
We Need A Plan B
The day before we sent out the invitations, the Covid-19 pandemic took a turn for the worse. Even now, more than half a year later, in Singapore, DORSCON Orange Is The New Black. My department asked me to stay on until the middle of the year as the country was in lock-down. Consequently, Ying The Label & I decided to put our plans on hold.
Eventually we took a leap of faith and launched All About Love on 31 July 2020, International Friendship Day. Our fashion capsule consisted of a tee-shirt, a blouse, a shawl and a twilly scarf in various colors and designs.
Challenges And How We Overcame Them
1. Launching A Collection In the Middle Of A Pandemic
Initially we worried that the pandemic would cast a pall on our collection. As it turns out, our theme, All About Love, resonated with the community. Our friend, actress Oon Shu An said, “It is a cycle, between blooming and wilting. It all depends on how we see its beauty.” James & Winnie, the power couple who run Bynd Artisan, declared, “Love means the knowledge of knowing we can get through anything- together.”
2. Zero Foot Traffic Due To Safe Distancing Measures
We were blessed that the new online culture made it even more normal to shop online. People are now used to Zoom conferences from home for work and apps like Google Hang-out & House Party for online social interaction. Consequently the thought of asking friends to check a collection out online didn’t seem as callous as before when you’d invite them personally to browse in-store.
3. Overcoming The Fear Of What Others Would Think Of Me
Having spent all of my life in public hospitals and leading philanthropic efforts, I was initially worried that people would not accept this new facet of me as a designer & entrepreneur. Coming from a career where academic exams mean everything, I wondered if people would ask for me to pull out a certificate in design or a degree in business before they would take me seriously. I felt too embarrassed to talk about it in the judgmental and unforgiving world of social media.
So I asked myself, a series of questions. Why is this All About Love collection so important to me? I realised that after 4 years of dreaming, I really needed to see it to completion. It would be the first of a multitude of possibilities. What I would lose if I kept my mouth shut. Well, that’s obvious, I would sell nothing, it would be a loss-making venture from start to end. Perhaps I would also lose a chance to connect with other budding creatives. And what I would gain if I was more open about this amazing project? Sales, clearly. But also a wealth of experience, including the joys and sorrows that come with the whole gig.
So we made a video, discussing our collaborative efforts. We involved our friends and asked them to share their stories of Love during this difficult time. I wore the All About Love collection to all of my interviews including this one by Singapore Pocket Opera Theatre: https://youtu.be/cG3lvwMF4M0. And it was a wonderful campaign.
What I’m Grateful For
1. Colouring Outside The Lines
After years in a zone of cold clinical science, where everything is dichotomised into black & white answers, it has been great to dabble in the colourful world of the arts. I love the concept of wearable art and living out one’s dreams. I appreciate the chance that Ying The Label took on this collaborative project with me.
2. Family & Friends
By chance, my youngest daughter was involved in the campaign with Ying The Label & me. That Li Ying embraced her being part of our team allowed me to spend time with my daughter while at work. Even now as I write this blog, she’s peering over my shoulder, advising me to discuss various aspects of the collection.
Photos of All About Love were all over social media. My heart shines when I see our designs on god-families, primary school-mates and medical school friends. It truly feels like the ties that bind us are stronger when we show support for one another during an international crisis.
3. Wellness Beyond Physical Health
During this pandemic, everyone has been worried about their physical health. And there has been a lot of education on physical health. What Ying The Label & I connected on was that we wanted to highlight something beyond physical wellness. For Ying, who hand-painted the hearts that are key to our design motif, the emotional wellness that comes with love is important. I wanted to take the opportunity to spread reassurance, allay fears and focus on mental wellness. For these reasons, we decided to donate 10% of our proceeds to Pangdemonium, a local theatre company run by Adrian Pang. I have enjoyed so many shows put up by them that focus on mental illness and caregiver stress.
Next week marks the end of our 8 week All About Love campaign. I can’t wait to tally up the contribution we will be making to our adopted charity.