We Talk to Brillyn of Hock Siong & Co.
We’ll admit it, we were really distracted at Hock Siong & Co. because there were so many good picks around – but the star of our day at the warehouse was really Brillyn, the marketing director and lady behind the fab Facebook page that Hock Siong & Co. maintains.
What’s not known is that she is also the eldest daughter of the owner and boss of Hock Siong & Co., a store big on sustainability and upcycling. With a great eye for interiors and design, it’s no surprise that her works and Hock Siong have drawn homeware lovers to their door!
What’s the story behind Hock Siong & Co.?
Hock Siong used to be completely different in the 1990s when we first started. My dad has always been in the recycling business – he was a karung guni man in the past, and would pick up material for recycling and sell them to third-world countries. Old clothes, old newspapers and magazines etc. Then the economies there collapsed around 1999 and he had to look for another option.
That was when my father decided to take his business in a different direction – he decided to start with recycled furniture. He saw the value of upcycling things and breathing new life into junked furniture.
Let’s talk about family businesses. You actually seldom see fresh grads join their family business. How did you get started at Hock Siong and did you always want to work here?
It might seem only natural that I would eventually help my dad with Hock Siong… but I never thought I would be working here full-time when I was younger.
I studied business IT in poly and business in uni before moving on to a few other course-relevant internships. The first job I had I was in charge of doing everything and anything, and it was there that I learned to multitask. I used to help my dad out part-time or when I was free – he’s Chinese-educated so I would handle the paperwork and marketing collateral for him. Eventually he asked me to join him full-time and I did.
We know that Hock Siong provides quality used furniture and homeware from hotels. How would you describe Hock Siong & Co.?
Hock Siong is… everything! We’re never judgmental here. We know that Hock Siong can’t contain everything but there’s something new to discover all the time – every day is a different story.
We pay attention to the quality and detail of furniture and recondition what we can. This is because nothing beats the real deal, and mass produced goods will never match up. We look into the quality of the wood and try our best to recondition things to make them as close to their original form as possible.
The trend for most upcycled vintage and retro furniture is to spray paint them, but we feel like good wood is hard to find now. So why cover all this beautiful wood grain? Sometimes we get really good furniture made of wood like mahogany and teak that need a lot of work for restoration or cleaning, but we’ll do it! By doing things on our own, we can keep costs low, too. And we always make sure we pass the low costs on to our customers.
So what exactly are you in charge of at Hock Siong & Co.?
Quite simply – everything. I handle the paperwork, manage the shipments that come in everyday, condition and upcycle products with my team, manage our Facebook and Instagram accounts, style our products, work with people who want their houses styled, and also style showrooms.
Sounds like a lot on your plate… What keeps you going?
It would be my parents and my team. Everyone is very supportive and close to each other – I would say that they support me more than I support them. We’re like a big family on our own and all of us are interdependent on each other. If you aren’t a team player, you won’t last long here.
Hock Siong stays close to Chinese cultures and traditions, so this emphasis on teamwork is something I’ve always grown up with. Working with the team at Hock Siong has taught me that none of us exist alone and that I would never be able to do what I do without my team.
Job-wise, I get to do what I like with the things I like. Every day, I personally set up photo opportunities to showcase what Hock Siong has to offer. There are always new shipments and new show flats to design… I can also give old things life again. I never know what’s coming!
We’re longtime fans of Hock Siong, so we know that your recent “lookbook” shots are quite different from the old quick snaps that you used to have on your social media channels. Was it a deliberate decision to take Hock Siong in this “younger” direction after you came on?
That was completely natural actually! I was just inspired by what I was seeing elsewhere on Instagram and I decided to have a go at it. At first my team didn’t really know what I was trying to do but now they’re always asking me if I want to style a particular product.
But since we started doing these shots, we’ve actually had a number of people approach us to style their houses for them. It’s very new for me and it can be quite challenging because the process is long and tedious, but I love it!
What’s the hardest part about working with your dad?
Helping my dad out was an opportunity for a priceless experience. It gets stressful at times but it has always been rewarding.
Of course there were some things that I had to get used to at first. The biggest challenge was our different mindset – I believe Facebook is a very powerful platform for us, for example, but he used to think it was a waste of time. Now he’s the one who reminds me to update our Facebook page!
It’s also hard to switch off – we’re always talking work at home. But I never feel like it isn’t worth it because it is a family business, and you always want the best for something that’s yours.
Sometimes I get emotionally attached to our furniture pieces, but I’m always happy when I receive great feedback from customers who are happy with their buys. That beats everything.
Thanks for having us, Brillyn!
Hock Siong & Co., 153 Kampong Ampat, Singapore 368326, p. 6281 8338. Open daily 930am-545pm.
All images taken by Dorottya Ács, a freelance photographer who specializes in event coverage and travel photography. For more info about her work, visit her website at www.seventeenphoto.com.