The i’mable Collective by SG Enable is a cause for good that showcases the best of the talented individuals within a community of artists with disabilities. With the close collaboration of its enterprise partners, the i’mable Collective seeks to provide them with a platform to highlight and commercialise their skills. 

A s we enter into 2021, we are reminded of the good that shone through despite the global Covid-19 pandemic that has decimated the economy and destroyed livelihoods.

Among the good is the i’mable Collective, a multi-sectoral platform comprising partners in the public and private sectors who, together with persons with disabilities, are motivated to collaborate and contribute towards the development of a viable market for quality merchandise that is created by and together with persons with disabilities, supporting their meaningful vocation.

An initiative by SG Enable, an agency dedicated to enabling persons with disabilities, the i’mable Collective recently gained attention from President Halimah Yacob, who donned a silk-cotton scarf and enamel brooch specially presented by the i’mable Collective during the National Day Parade last year. Options speaks to several of the Collective’s enterprise partners and finds out why this cause means so much to them.

Alfred Fox

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Executive director and CEO, Aetos Holdings

Tell us about Aetos’s collaboration with the i’mable Collective.

I’d say about a year ago when we visited the Enabling Village, we were very taken and very enthused by the good work they are doing. So it was natural that we pledged our support, to work with the i’mable Collective, to come up with designs and to work together.

The thinking behind it is that we wanted to be a company of good, to do more than what we originally set up to do. We are a security company, and you’d never put security and SG Enable together. Yet in some ways, there is a correlation between safeguarding our people.

Working with the talents at i’mable Collective is a way of extending the work we are doing, and also to provide support to the artists and the talents and students who are doing very, very good work. I think our purpose really is to show that many more companies should come on board, which is why we’ve worked on Aetos’s corporate gift together; a specially-designed tote bag by a hearing-impaired artist Isaac Liang.

We were wondering what corporate gifts we’d give this year, and rather than the traditional type of gifts, we said “What better way than to work together on a design with the artist, that depict the work that our people were doing?”

What was the driving force behind Aetos’s collaboration with the i’mable Collective?

It’s an extension of what we do very naturally, we say we are safeguarding the people and looking after security and the future, as guardians. Aetos is committed to safeguarding the people, as well as securing and shaping an inclusive future as guardians; and one of the ways is to enable people with disabilities to showcase their work and abilities.

And I think this is the start of many more collaborations to come. I think I would be most happy when we give this out and people realise that the product and the gift is not just something we bought off the shelf, but was carefully curated with support from SG Enable and I get feedback from people that this is a very meaningful gift. I think that would be the most rewarding part of this collaboration. And then for us who tell Isaac, you know, so many people thought that your gift was meaningful.

That’s what we’re going for: To engender meaning and not just give a gift, but a meaningful gift.

Edwin Low

Founder, Supermama

Tell us about Supermama and about your collaboration with i’mable Collective.

Supermama is a local design store, and we produce lifestyle goods and gifts. My work with the i’mable Collective started some time before. My line of work enables me to sell gifts to lots of corporations and companies, and most companies have a budget for gifts — so why not make the gift meaningful?

Personally, I have a younger sister who is deaf and mute and so I grew up in a family where my sister [did not have it] easy. And perhaps in that way, I empathise with persons with disabilities. So in Supermama, in whatever we do, we always give thought to them.

We don’t try to sell it because it is made with differently-abled persons. With this collaboration — a ceramic plate featuring My Little Blue Merlion by artist Tan Bing Yao from Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore — it was particularly special. Last year, many retail businesses suffered.

But we realised many locals support local businesses. So I thought, “Why don’t we try to tell Singapore stories through our collection of plates and get people involved?” So we put together a project of 20 cobalt blue white porcelain plates, which centres on personal narratives and experiences of locals, from Singaporeans of all walks of life. We launched it last November, releasing five designs every week until Dec 11.

Why does this project mean so much to you?

It wasn’t easy for my parents with my sister, growing up. She also had a heart operation for a hole in her heart. As family members, sometimes all you want is for them to be happy. And if I can sell a piece of art or even commercialise it, it means the world to them.

For me it is a plate, but for them it is everything. What has been the most rewarding part of the collaboration for you? Just to see the family members of the artist (Bing Yao) happy. Because sometimes it’s not just rewarding for the artist, but for his or her family members as well.

I received a message from Bing Yao’s sister, and she told me his family members always collect Bing Yao’s works. I do urge companies to work with SG Enable and the i’mable Collective. I’d say i’mable Collective is perfectly positioned to help meet the needs of any company, and to match them with the artists.

Companies will always have a budget for gifts, and it’s about doing good — budgets need not be separate to buy gifts and to do CSR (corporate social responsibility) activities.

Nicolette Yeo

Assistant general manager, Teapasar

Could you share more about Teapasar’s and your personal experience collaborating with i’mable Collective on the mid-autumn project? How has your collaboration with i’mable Collective benefitted Teapasar?

We were honoured to be chosen as SG Enable’s partner on [last year’s] Mid-Autumn project. On this project, we worked closely with persons with disabilities including bakers from Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds) and Metta to create a meaningful product for this special occasion.

In your opinion, what are i’mable Collective’s capabilities? What are some of the benefits or and positive social impacts of collaborating with i’mable Collective?

Many persons with disabilities are capable of creating great products and gifts, but they may not be able to form the connections and relationships with relevant business partners — that’s where the i’mable Collective’s capabilities lie, in opening more doors for them, creating more meaningful job opportunities and highlighting their talents.

Would you recommend other enterprises to collaborate with i’mable Collective?

Definitely! The i’mable Collective is able to leapfrog many enterprises with the required knowledge and connections required to allow such enterprises to continue enabling persons with disabilities sustainably.

Rachel Hoe

Director, Royal Insignia

Could you share more about Royal Insignia’s and your personal experience collaborating with i’mable Collective on the Tie Clip project (an extension of the Utama Collection that was revealed at last year’s National Day Parade)?

Fresh from the excitement of the President’s brooch project for the Utama Collection, we are very glad to be working with the Collective again on another enamelling project. The tie clips brought along a whole new set of challenges, as we had to work with a considerably smaller surface which was challenging in incorporating the various design elements into a limited space. The small work surface also added complexities to enamel application and finishing. We are incredibly pleased with the final results.

How has your collaboration with i’mable Collective benefitted Royal Insignia?

As always, we’re very encouraged by the support the Collective has given for enamelling arts. For an art form to survive and flourish, it requires patrons who are willing to invest in its potential and allow it opportunities to be displayed on the national stage. Our collaboration with the i’mable Collective has no doubt shed much spotlight on enamelling as an art form, and we’re immensely grateful for the opportunity.

In your opinion, what are i’mable Collective’s capabilities?

The collective’s access to a pool of talented artists serves as a hotbed of creative possibilities for potential collaborators. Its role in providing a structured framework to facilitate collaborations, sponsorships and social procurement is also of extreme importance where makers and artists are concerned.

Felicia Wee

Deputy executive director, Metta Welfare Association

Could you share more about Metta’s and your personal experience collaborating with i’mable Collective on the NUS project?

The collaboration with i’mable Collective has been an enriching experience as we get to work with like-minded people to enable persons with disabilities.

How has the NUS project benefitted Metta and your clients?

The NUS project enables us to work with the youths, and hopefully we have been instrumental in planting the volunteerism seed in them. They have also allowed us to see the designs we do in a different lens and how we can use the same traditional method with a different, newer design to attract a younger group of customers like themselves.

The Collective’s strong network has been an excellent collaborator for us. We are able to reach out to a new group of customers through the i’mable Collective. The capabilities of the team to aggregate like-minded social services agencies (SSAs) to come together to plan the gifting project was both meaningful and impactful. 

UNLEASHING THEIR CREATIVITY

For many of the i’mable Collective’s artists, being able to unleash their creative side through art has been an incredible experience.

“I am happy that my art used in the Singapore Together Pack was enjoyed and appreciated by Singaporeans. I’m especially delighted to know that it has been further developed into cute enamel pins! I look forward to contributing my skills at the i’mable Collective to work on more projects.”

— Zoe Wang Shi Min, sheltered workshop trainee of Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore

“I feel very proud that my art work is being selected and Emeritus Senior Minister Mr Goh Chok Tong wore it on his social media post to fundraise for Mediacorp Enable Fund. ESM Goh is the Patron of the Fund that is administered by SG Enable, an agency that enables persons with disabilities and has facilitated this collaboration.

“My design is inspired by Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer, which are beautiful icons of Singapore and they are the Singapore landscapes many visitors will remember and must visit. With the participation in last year’s National Day Celebration (Singapore Together Pack and “Mask for the Nation”), people in Singapore are more aware of the artwork of persons with disabilities. With increasing support, I hope people with disabilities are given more opportunities to make our life better. The “Mask for the Nation” has made me and my family proud, and made me believe “I can do it!”

— Ang Wei Lun, sheltered workshop trainee of Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore