The i’mable Collective by SG Enable is a concerted effort to grow a community of artists and makers with disabilities, as a way to showcase their talent through quality merchandise. This effort gained a lot of accolades, especially when President Halimah Yacob recently donned a silk-cotton scarf and enamel brooch specially presented by the i’mable Collective. Options speaks to SG Enable, as well as local brands like Binary Style and Royal Insignia, who have crafted the accessories featuring original artworks of two special artists from the Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped. 

Ku Geok Boon, CEO, SG Enable

Tell us about the i'mable Collective initiative — how did it start and what was the inspiration behind it?

Supported and nurtured by disability sector organisations and social enterprises, many persons with disabilities have developed skills and capabilities in artisanal and vocational fields. However, a common feedback is the need for more opportunities to provide meaningful engagement and fulfilling work for persons with disabilities. This spurred the formation of the i’mable Collective last year. Two of SG Enable’s board members, Jean Tan and Xie Yao Quan, who is also a Member of Parliament of Jurong GRC, led a workgroup to bring together like-minded partners to support this initiative. The i’mable Collective comprises organisations and partners committed to collaborating and contributing their creative knowledge, expertise and resources to develop a market for quality products made with persons with disabilities. This multi-sectoral platform consists of SG Enable as the convenor, with it’s makers, comprising social service agencies, social enterprises and individual artists and artisans with disabilities. The Collective also has enterprise partners, who are subject matter experts such as art schools, product and graphic designers, marketers or business service providers such as operators of retail spaces or channels, logistics and fulfillment businesses. [Binary Style and Royal Insignia are two of its’ enterprise partners]. Together, the Collective seeks to give persons with disabilities access to new economic and engagement opportunities that promote their independence and participation in the community.

Why it is necessary for the spotlight to be put on the capabilities of those who are differently-abled and those with special needs?

SG Enable’s vision is to have an inclusive society and persons with disabilities leading enabled lives. Many persons with disabilities have skills and talents, and if equipped with the right opportunities and resources, can play a meaningful part in our society. The i’mable Collective by SG Enable aims to celebrate abilities and create enterprise opportunities and social impact through collaborative partnerships. It brings the talents of persons with disabilities to the forefront, so the community can see their creativity, develop greater appreciation for what they can do, and be spurred to purchase [from social enterprises.]. SG Enable’s network of social, government, corporate and enterprise partners also enables i’mable Collective to harness expertise and resources to bring about strategic opportunities for persons with disabilities to bring their work to market. 

Silk-cotton-Scarf-by-i-mable-Collective - THE EDGE SINGAPORE

Santhi Tunas, founder of Binary Style

What are your thoughts about the original designs by the artists with disabilities?

It was amazing and heartwarming to witness how the artists managed to work around their disabilities and overcome their limitations to create something that is so unique. We took the artworks and added commercially-appealing elements to the design, layering on the collaborative co-creation effort to produce a square scarf for the President.

What made you decide to collaborate with the i’mable Collective team on this project?

The i’mable Collective is a great initiative which we find compelling as it celebrates the talents of persons with disabilities, and this collaboration would be a good way for us to show our support for this meaningful cause. Coming onboard as an [enterprise] partner, we hope to show our fellow industry peers how we are lending our expertise and hopefully, be a form of influence to other businesses so that they may be encouraged to support and be a part of the i’mable Collective initiative in their own way. We’re honoured to be one of the enterprise partners involved in this project and are happy to spotlight the designs by the artists with disabilities through this co-creation. This collaboration is an unforgettable and enriching experience for us. We’re humbled to be a part of this meaningful project and being able to create a scarf to dress the President for the National Day Parade. We hope to use this collaboration to encourage our industry peers to come onboard and support the i’mable Collective initiative too.

The-Enamel-Brooch-by-i-mable-Collective  - THE EDGE SINGAPORE

Rachel Hoe, director of Royal Insignia

What are your thoughts about the original designs by the artists with disabilities?

Both Adeline and Katy’s [the artists] artworks are bursting with so much unbridled creativity. It was incredibly fulfilling to be able to capture this excitement in the brooch’s design. Having both Adeline and Katy involved in the creative process pushed our brand to explore a different, edgier design aesthetic that we would not have explored otherwise. The team has developed a newfound respect for the creative passion of these special artists. We are extremely proud and grateful to be part of such a meaningful project that empowers people with disabilities.

What made you decide to collaborate with the i’mable Collective team on this project?

We were very inspired by i’mable Collective’s goal to bring together local brands and artists with disabilities to collaborate and create a marketplace for quality merchandise. In the uber modern environment that is Singapore, local craftsmanship is often ignored or at best underappreciated. The project not only presented an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the presence and quality of Singaporean craftsmanship, but also celebrate the talents of artists with disabilities. It was admirable to see how the project empowered both Adeline and Katy to look past their disabilities and shine as artists