Gretel Quintal (left) and Shabnam Das met more than 40 years ago as teenagers in the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus Katong and have maintained their friendship over the years. Now that their children are grown up, they decided to start a new chapter in their lives with an online business that features items for the home. Their aim is to represent local artists with some vintage touches.
With that Spindle and Moon (spindleandmoon.com) was born late last year — and the name holds a lot of meaning for them. The spindle is a symbol that is found on their school badge that represents womanly labour and the dignity of work. The moon, well, as Quintal says: “We both believe in a little magic.”
The dream is evolving as the initial idea was to produce and curate lifestyle products that would uplift the buyer. This stemmed from the recent Covid-19 outbreak and they wanted to lift spirits and remind people of all the good things.
She adds: “We started looking at products that we could work with that could do that. We got lucky and met up with some local artists, which took the business on a small turn. We then thought ... maybe we work with local artists to produce products that would include the art piece, were usable and would uplift spirits. We were excited.”
To date, their best-selling items are the Grand Dames in the Red Dot series and the Bulbul bird out of the cage tray. For the Red Dot series, Spindle and Moon worked with commercial photographer Nicholas Leong where his images are printed on lacquered trays or tea boxes. It features Singapore landmarks such as the Raffles Hotel but with a symbolic red sports car to make you stop and take a closer look at the contrasting images. Also included in the collection is a picture of The Central Fire Station, the oldest fire station in Singapore, with a red fire engine outside.
For the Bulbul bird trays, the design by artist Joyce Tan shows intricate etchings of the Bulbul bird found in Singapore. According to singaporebirds.com, the Bulbul has earthly brown upper parts contrasting with white underparts, tall erect black crest, prominent white cheek and throat with black moustache stripe, small red ear patch and reddish vent. These birds are commonly found in Lorong Halus, Jurong Lake Park, Kent Ridge Park, Singa- pore Botanic Gardens, Saddle Club, Tuas South, Punggol Barat and Pulau Ubin.
Nature studies aside, Quintal speaks to Options about the business and the future of Spindle and Moon.
What are some of your key milestones to date?
Meeting local artists and producing products with the artwork was really a big milestone for us. We hope that Singaporeans are happy and proud to use these products at home as well as give them as gifts to their friends and families who live abroad. The vision is to produce quality products that have an elegant and nostalgic Singapore flavour.
What are some of the challenges of starting and running a business in Singapore?
Finding the right vendors to work with. Sourcing for products made with vendors who are proud of the end result is difficult. It takes a lot of time to build
relationships and arrive at a ‘meeting of minds.
What does it mean to be a Singapore entrepreneur?
Competition is tough and you need to have something that is new and not seen yet.
It is so easy for the customer to compare prices — the only way is to produce products that are uniquely yours.
Why did you want to start your own business?
We needed to feed our creative needs. We both enjoy curating and designing items that we think will make great gifts and make people happy.
Any advice for Singaporeans who want to start their own business?
There are so many new online shops to compete with. Finding a way to make yourself unique is critical. Creating new products is the best way to go. Also, finding the right price point for your niche market is important.
What is the mission of Spindle and Moon?
This would be threefold. To enjoy curating ‘Singapore’ to create products that remind us how beautiful it is here.
To be synonymous with quality and elegant goods that bring joy and lastly build a base of like-minded loyal customers who will tell us what they would like to see in our shop.
Hopes and dreams for the future?
To build out our product range and to work with marginalised groups and drive or support community programmes [and] to be contributors.
What’s in the pipeline?
There is indeed a very exciting new range in the pipeline that will be fashionable and shed light on little-known facts in Singapore.
How are you celebrating National Day?
A big party with family and friends .... because we can.