The trinkets and baubles that Supermama sells go beyond the idea of Singaporean souvenirs. Edwin and Meiling, the couple behind the brand, have made it their quest to redesign the local souvenier landscape.
Bringing design back into Singapore’s souvenirs
Edwin Low and Meiling Lee’s brainchild (they also have real human children) is a gallery shop in Beach Road called “Supermama”. It sells what can only be described as ‘Singaporean minimalism’. A journey into their store is one-part whimsy, one-part nostalgia, all tied together in neat design packages.
From homewares to trinkets, Arita-made porcelain with embossed Star Wars characters (yes, you read that right) to Miss Vanda Joaquim-shaped serving trays, Supermama fits the eclectic aesthetic that the Haji Lane area has come to be associated with. Edwin, the “creative mind behind the countless creative concepts” thoughtfully curates the Supermama collection.
“We started Supermama in 2011 and it has been a challenging and fulfilling journey - when we first started we wanted to offer to consumers well-made, well-designed goods and we made sure to source for products that we believed in,” Meiling recalls.
Edwin is their resident creative, his background as a trained product designer and former a design educator. “For me, I was a civil servant and this partnership is quite unique with myself being the super detailed and systematic person behind Supermama,” Meiling says. It’s a marriage (figuratively and literally) of two halves.
The couple bring the passion to their work, partnering-up with equally passionate Japanese ceramic makers. There is, of course, the usual Japanese virtues of hard work and quality standards to extoll, but it’s evident in the mood of the Supermama shop that serious thought has gone into the process.
What you really get from the vibe at Supermama, is the sense of family and community. From the Singaporean-ness in their products, to the name itself – Edwin christened the brand after Meiling, who is the real super mother of their family. Supermama works to highlight their individual designers and draw attention to their suppliers, Japanese ceramics maker Kihara, but even their online-shop’s ongoing blog brings a sense they are creating something with belonging in mind.
Of the numerous accolades that has been heaped on Supermama, Meiling says winning the President’s Design Award was a major moment for them. “Another milestone is our foray into creating the "Souvenirs From Singapore" collection in 2015, something which we are still very proud to contribute to the betterment of the local souvenirs landscape,” she says.
Supermama is certainly not run-of-the-mill corner shop selling “Singapore is a fine city” T-shirts.
It certainly hasn't been a rocket ride for the brand. It was only after 3 years that Supermama launched its own porcelain collection and since then, their fortunes have been inextricably tied to that of their many Japanese craft facilities.
Meiling says, “but at the end of the day, we realised it is more important for us to keep our faith and values - such experiences really test one's character and we hope to continue to grow as a person and not just grow a business at all cost and at the cost of others.”