Carolyn Kan, 42
Founder of Keepers
She isn’t just the founder of famous local jewellery brand Carrie K. Carolyn has also become the champion of Singapore designers and artisans.
Last September, she brought them under one roof at Keepers: Singapore Designer Collective, a pop-up store that has had an impressive run at Orchard Green. Originally slated to run for five months, it surpassed expectations with 90,000 visitors in that span of time, instead of the 5,000 they had expected. Because of this, Keepers’ lease has been extended until January 2016.
Before it was a fully fledged store, Keepers started as a quarterly open-to-the-public affair hosted by Carolyn at her jewellery workshop in Bukit Timah. She curated a mix of designers and artisans, from hatmakers to mixologists, to suit different themes. The reason? To encourage people to interact with independent designers. “When you pop into someone’s atelier and spend time talking to the craftsmen, you’re able to appreciate the work so much more,” she says. Last year, she took things a step further by teaming up with the Textile and Fashion Federation (Taff ) Singapore, so she could work with local designers like Dzojchen, Peirwu and Gin Lee, who were starting to have an overseas presence. Carolyn wanted to introduce these designers to Singaporeans, and with the support of government agencies Singapore Tourism Board and Spring Singapore, the Keepers store was born. Taff takes care of Keepers’ operations now, while Carolyn focuses on curating the brands.
At Keepers, you’ll find brands like Arc, Aijek and In Good Company, bag label Ling Wu and hatmaker Heads of State Millinery. Prices range from $50 to $400 for clothes.
Designers are thrilled with the impact that Keepers has made. Labels like Elohim by Sabrina Goh and Whole9Yards have had more visitors at their workshops and online stores, and Keepers has even become a venue where Taff and the Design Singapore Council hold business crash courses for designers, offering lessons in fashion merchandising and overseas expansion.
Carolyn isn’t stopping here. She’s working on a permanent location for Keepers, and on fostering even more local support. “My longer-term goal is for people to be proud to say: this was made by a Singapore designer.”
Photography: Winston Chuang, Art direction: Evon Chng, Hair: Ann Lin/Athens Salon (9003-0865), Makeup: Ginger Lynette, using Dior, Clothes and accessories: Carolyn’s own
This story was first published in Her World magazine July 2015.
Love supporting home-grown brands? Here are 5 Singapore fashion designer brands to add to your wardrobe for work!