The ASEAN market has seen a sharp rise in the growth of young entrepreneurs. The developing economies in the region present many opportunities for entrepreneurs - a market that is ready for innovation, creativity, and even disruption.
The newly-established YWLC’s Entrepreneurs Circle hosted its first fireside chat on 20 February with Winnie Chan, Founder and CEO at Bynd Artisan, as guest speaker.
Intimate virtual session with Winnie Chan, Founder and CEO of Bynd Artisan (top left) with members of the Entrepreneurs Circle
Winnie started up Bynd Artisan with her husband in 2014. She had previously worked for her family’s business, a bookbinding and stationery firm, for 22 years. From their humble beginnings as an atelier at Boon Lay, Bynd Artisan has since grown to have four retail stores across Singapore. The company is also one of the recipients of the “Made with Passion” Singapore brand mark.
Like many other businesses, Bynd Artisan was caught in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic disruption. We saw many businesses badly battered and eventually had to close their shutters.
As a retail business with a premium branding, how did Winnie find her footing amid the global disruption? How did she manage to stay afloat and adapt her business to the new normal?
In the session moderated by Elaine Law, a YWLC member, Winnie had an intimate conversation with young female entrepreneurs from YWLC on her experience and shared insights on B2C customer acquisition amid the Covid crisis.
1. Understand your target customers and align your brand story
It’s important to have a compelling story for your brand, as well as to find your unique selling point (USP).
Bynd Artisan’s value proposition lies in its experiential retail experience, by offering customers the option to personalise products, and having dedicated craftsmen at the store front to assist customers. With physical storefronts, it also acts as a touchpoint to meet customers face-to-face and build relationships with them.
It is essential that you tie in your USP with your target market. Hence, it is crucial to keep abreast of your customer’s preferences by engaging in conversations with key stakeholders. If you have the resources, you can also explore conducting observational studies of customer behaviour.
For new businesses, you can consider working with emerging designers or students who might be looking to build their portfolios. Keep updated with the latest trends - both macro and micro - that is relevant or can affect your product offering. Seek feedback from your friends, network, or community to get their views on your business.
2. Change is the only constant
The most adaptable businesses are the strongest businesses.
When the pandemic hit, Winnie and her team quickly pivoted by conceptualising new products in a matter of days. These products were relevant during the pandemic, such as leather hand sanitiser holders and TraceTogether Token holders. Mindful that customers would also be more conscious of their spending during the pandemic, Bynd Artisan offered free personalisation and lower prices for products related to safety and hygiene.
3. Focus on your value proposition
The business landscape may be competitive. However, placing your focus on product differentiation and building your unique brand will put you in better stead than constantly keeping up with competition.
The customer journey is not about fighting to make a sale, but ensuring that your customers keep coming back to your brand because they believe in and relate to your brand and what you stand for.
4. Find marketing strategies aligned to your brand
Build community and brand awareness by creating content that is relevant to the brand, beyond direct product marketing. For example, Bynd Artisan started an interview series on journaling and reached out to influencers who also practiced journaling to be featured as part of their marketing campaign.
It is important to find people who are aligned with your brand values to help heighten brand awareness among the right target audience.
Bynd Artisan started as a small brand that drew inspiration from hand-designed traditional book-binding methods, and is now an award-winning company. The company has retail stores in shopping malls like Ion Orchard, Takashimaya, and Raffles City. Bynd Artisan’s product range includes personalised leather-bound notebooks, leather bags, pouches, and sanitiser holders.
Find out more about Bynd Artisan here.
Speaker: Winnie Chan Organising Subcommittee: Membership Subcommittee (Entrepreneurs Circle) Organising Team: Brenda Lee, Elaine Law Graphic: Joey Ong Author: Nisha Rajoo Editors: Joaquim Tan, Kristin Loo