From trendy nail salons to chic restaurants to ethical fashion stores, these companies are all about conscious living and empowering the underprivileged.
Thinking about how to spend your time meaningfully? Wanna feel like part of your community? Good news: There are many opportunities to do just that beyond volunteering at the nearby soup kitchen or donating your pre-loved items to various charities. If you want to put your money behind something impactful, social enterprises are a great way to support a good cause, and they deserve a damn good shoutout.
The Social Space
It’s a socially conscious haven at The Social Space, a multi-concept store that features a tea bar, cafe and fair trade retail area, all rolled into one. Cheryl and Daniel Ou are the power couple behind this wonderful space that trains and employs underprivileged people. Trust us, you’ll want to bring your reusable shopping bag for this to shop ethical goodies like recycled tire footwear by Indosole, bamboo sunnies from Bambike and Sen Natural’s beauty products. And don’t even get us started on the “refillery”! Stock up on castile soap, shampoo, surface cleaner and dishwashing liquid sans pesky plastic bottles, as you’re encouraged to bring your own. Its Chinatown location also features a nail salon, while its newer Marina One spot houses a second-floor space for pop-ups and workshops.
The Social Space, two locations including #01-14, 333 Kreta Ayer Road, Singapore 080333 and #01-03 (Garden Tower), Marina One Residences, 5 Straits View, Singapore 018935
Started by a team who lovingly believes in “the power of flowers,” this floral studio is all about preserved blooms. Not only are they longer-lasting than fresh florals, they’re also friendlier to the environment. But its beauty isn’t only skin deep; the brand also offers skill training and employment for the marginalised, and advocates for an initiative that upcycles flowers from events to create “plant smiles” in homes and hospices. It’s the sweetest thing, really.
BloomBack, available online and at #05-70, Lobby A, The Vertex, 33 Ubi Avenue 3, Singapore 408868
Boheme Style Nomads
This brand seeks to help single mums who are their family’s sole breadwinners. As its name suggests, you’ll find a lovely mix of bohemian-inspired jewellery with materials sourced sustainably (whenever possible) from artisans but hand-assembled right here by these ladies in Singapore. Keeping the “feel-good fashion” mantra alive, the founders work with the company as volunteers and give a fair wage of 40% to these hardworking women.
Boheme Style Nomads, available online.
In support of marine conservation in Singapore and around the region, Seastainable wants society to make that sustainable switch and reduce plastic consumption. Here, you’ll find zero-waste alternatives to daily disposable items, with a selection that includes metal straw sets, stylish clutches made of handwoven discarded fabric, plantable paper coasters, collapsible silicone cups and more. Oh, and 50% of the profits go to ocean protection efforts – so far, the brand has contributed to more than 33 projects across five countries.
Seastainable, available online and at various locations.
The Sowing Room
Already swooning over these gorgeous fabric pouches with fun prints? Wait till you hear the story behind them. These covetable accessories are handsewn by women who have survived abuse, labour and sexual exploitation, and are now employed and trained by The Sowing Room, earning fair wages for their beautiful creations. The social enterprise is also known for collabs with renowned fabric brands like Onlewo. We just love seeing more brands come together to do good!
The Sowing Room, available at The Social Space.
Pasta, anyone? We’re all for having Italian at My Nonna’s. This restaurant employs intellectually disabled and autistic young adults to serve at its canteen stalls in schools, providing them with ample training and a small income for that extra boost. The food is as good as its service, with pasta dishes and antipasti made from the original recipes of the founder’s grandmother. Ah, our hearts (and stomachs) are full. My Nonna’s also does catering for all your party and event needs, should you need some help in that department.
My Nonna’s, order online or visit the Facebook page for events.
We’ve already sung the praises of Asia’s first ethical subscription box Sonder Social, which features fair trade items and lovely pieces created by social enterprises around Asia. The company’s founders are all about providing a platform for these small brands to sell their products and raising awareness on how they’re doing great things. Now focusing on gift boxes that are curated with socially responsible and eco-friendly goodies, Sonder Social’s items include bamboo straws, coconut bowls and upcycled wood coasters so you can do your bit towards reducing single-use plastic, too.
Sonder Social, available online.
The Nail Social
We’ll admit, we love The Nail Social at Haji Lane. The salon, run by the same folks behind The Social Space, offers manicure, pedicure and foot massage services by underprivileged women who have been hired and trained with the aim of being given a chance to pick up a useful skill and gain self-sufficiency. Their work is amazing, the nail polish used is non-toxic, and we’re big fans of their fantastic service and the personal screens that allow a bit of a movie binge while you get your nails done! Plus, who can say no to that complimentary glass of wine on Fridays and Saturdays?
The Nail Social, L2, 42A Haji Lane, Singapore 189235
The Animal Project
In love with all things furry and fuzzy? This social enterprise sells a selection of lifestyle goods stamped with artwork drawn by persons with special needs. Think homeware, stationery, bags, decorative items and tees all set to a quirky animal theme. The young artists get to earn royalties from each sale, and at least half the profits are donated to a charity.
The Animal Project, various locations.
Looking to pick up some coffee-making skills? Cue Bettr Barista, a coffee academy that has a commitment to change and improve lives with specialty coffee education and training courses for professional certification. It doesn’t matter if you’re a complete newbie or already in the industry – there’s a wide range of courses tailored for every need. You can also drop by the community coffee retail locations, which support graduates of the social programme for marginalised women and youths at risk.
Bettr Barista, various locations.
We’re huge fans of this homegrown brand – and not just because its light leather shoes are, hands down, the comfiest we’ve ever worn. (Seriously: You need to try them on and you’ll see what we’re talking about – it’s like walking on clouds.) Anothersole’s Buy1Feed1 initiative is a pledge to use 10% of its profits to support children in need. So when you invest in a pair, you’re helping the company provide food supplies and support underfunded orphanages, and also create sustainable communities where children can thrive.
Anothersole, available online and at various locations.
Ugly Cake Shop
Nah, the cakes here are anything but ugly. In fact, this bakery, which specialises in artisanal cakes, also helps to support undernourished kids in Timor Leste – part of its earnings go to a school’s nutritional funds. The shop certainly doesn’t scrimp on flavour either, using only high-quality ingredients and all-natural flavours so you can go all out and indulge your sweet tooth… for a good cause.
Ugly Cake Shop, #01-06, GB Point, 535 Kallang Bahru, Singapore 339351
Got a special birthday coming up? Hoping to gift someone a beautiful bouquet? The next time you’re dreaming of pretty blooms, think Hello Flowers. As a social enterprise floral studio, it supports women who are unable to work or hold full-time jobs due to various reasons. Besides employing them, the company also runs a social training programme, which equips these women with the necessary skills and gives them a platform to sell their crafts and works. Other community initiatives it participates in include floral therapy workshops and repurposing wedding flowers.
Hello Flowers!, #03-39, 52 Chin Swee Road, Singapore 160052
The Clay Day
If you’ve been shopping around flea markets and pop-ups (like we love to), you might have noticed the intricate handmade ceramic accessories by The Clay Day. Necklaces, earrings and accessories – you can find them all here. The brand supports a workshop and its beneficiaries in Cambodia by purchasing the raw, hand-crafted ceramic products at fair prices, and aims to hire local disadvantaged individuals in its business operations.
The Clay Day, available online.
Rainbow Centre wants to empower persons with developmental disabilities and provide them with an inclusive environment to develop skills. Seeds Cafe at its Margaret Drive campus is one of its initiatives, and here’s where you can check out the social space that offers F&B training opportunities to young people with these disabilities. Grab a nice cuppa while you’re here, or participate in one of the many interesting workshops and events.
Seeds Cafe, 501 Margaret Drive, Singapore 149306
Five & 2
Located at a scenic waterfront spot in Punggol Park, this restaurant and bar is certainly a relaxing dining affair. It’s only open later in the day, so you can easily pop by for casual dinner fare with your friends while enjoying a couple of drinks. On the sustainability front, the eatery provides equal job opportunities and an inclusive working environment for the marginalised. It also invites underprivileged families to its space for nutritious meals in a bid to serve the community.
Five & 2, Punggol Park, 97 Hougang Avenue 8, Singapore 538792
Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh
Nursing a bak kut teh craving? This joint might be your answer. Established in 2013, it’s a place that does its best to give ex-offenders and former drug abusers a second chance at life by offering them work opportunities, which makes your dining experience here exceptionally meaningful. Besides bak kut teh, the menu offers plenty of delish Chinese dishes that are good for sharing, so bring the whole crew down!
Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh, various locations.