From nail salons to chic restaurants, cool fashion and sustainable farming, here’s where you can shop and eat for a good cause in Singapore...
Thinking about how to spend your time more meaningfully and feel like part of your community? Good news: there are many more 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 more meaningful, 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’s got a tea bar and cafe, a retail area (that gives back) and a nail salon, all rolled into one. Cheryl and Daniel Ou are the power couple behind this wonderful space that trains and employs underprivileged women and men. Trust us, you’ll want to bring your reusable shopping bag for this as there are loads of ethical goodies like earrings by Fugee-lah and reusable bamboo fire coffee cups by Perky to take home. And we haven’t even started on the “Refillery”. Stock up on castile soap, shampoo, surface cleaner and dishwashing liquid sans pesky plastic bottles, you’re encouraged to bring your own.
The Social Space, 333 Kreta Ayer Road, #01-14, Singapore 080333
Boheme Style Nomads
This socially conscious brand gives back to single mums who are sole breadwinners of the family. As its name suggests, you’ll find a lovely mix of bohemian-inspired jewellery with materials sourced from artisans but hand-assembled right here by these single mums in Singapore. Keeping the “feel good fashion” mantra alive, the founders do not take a single cent from the company but give a fair wage of 40% to these inspiring ladies.
Boheme Style Nomads, available online, visit the Facebook page for pop-up updates
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, all tanks to The Sowing Room. The social enterprise is also known for collabs with renown fabric brands like Onlewo. We just love seeing more brands come together to do good. Can’t get enough? Head on over to the Sowing Room x Carpenter & Cook x Romanez pop-up for a one-off bespoke service by them this weekend.
The Sowing Room, you can find their pieces at The Social Space, 333 Kreta Ayer Road, #01-14, Singapore 080333
Pasta anyone? We’re having Italian at My Nonna’s. This social enterprise employs intellectually disabled and autistic young adults to serve at all six school canteen stalls. These young adults are provided with ample training and a small income for that extra boost. The food is as good as it’s service with pasta dishes and antipasti made from the original recipes of the founder’s grandmother. Ah, our heart (and stomach) is 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, make an order online or visit the Facebook page for events
We’ve already sung the praises of Asia’s first ethical subscription box Sonder Social, loaded with Fair Trade items and lovely pieces created by social enterprises around Asia. Sonder Social’s founders are all about providing a platform for these social enterprises to sell their products and raising awareness of these small brands doing great things. Their subscription boxes (like the one above) contains goodies including recycled plastic coasters, a bamboo amplifier for your phone and a fantastic screen-printed tote and a stainless steel straw so you can do your bit towards reducing single-use plastic too.
Sonder Social, available online
The Nail Social
We love The Nail Social in Haji Lane. At this socially conscious salon, you can indulge in manicure, pedicure and foot massage services, offered by underprivileged women who have been hired and trained with the aim of being given a chance at picking up a useful skill and gaining self-sufficiency. Their work is amazing, and we love the salon for its fantastic service and the personal screens that allow you to allow in a little bit of a Netflix binge while you get your nails done!
The Nail Social, 42A Haji Lane (2nd floor), Singapore 189235
Looking to pick up some coffee making skills? Cue the Bettr Barista, with a commitment to change and improve lives with specialty coffee education and over 1,000 professional coffee courses and workshops run. 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. Drop by their community coffee retail locations, which support graduates of their social programme for marginalised women and youths at risk – a portion of their retail proceeds goes to supporting higher education for youths in need, so keep the cups going!
Bettr Barista, various retail locations islandwide.
We’re huge fans of this homegrown brand – not just because its 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. Anothersole’s Buy1Feed1 initiative is a pledge to use 10% of its revenue to support children in need via World Vision in Vietnam. So when you invest in a pair, you’re helping Anothersole fund food supplies and support underfunded orphanages, and also create sustainable communities where children can thrive.
Anothersole, available online and at Gallery & Co., 1 St Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957
Ugly Cake Shop
Nah, their cakes are everything but ugly. In fact, this bakery cafe and online cake shop, which specialises in artisanal cakes, also helps to support undernourished kids in Timor Leste – part of their earnings goes to a school’s nutritional funds. They certainly don’t scrimp on their cakes’ qualities too, using only high quality ingredients and all-natural flavours, so you can go all out and indulge your sweet tooth, all for a good cause.
Ugly Cake Shop, 535 Kallang Bahru, #01-06 GB Point, Singapore 339351
A special birthday coming up? Looking for flowers for Mother’s Day or simply, hoping to gift someone with a beautiful bouquet? The next time you consider buying some lovely blooms, think of hello flowers. Wedding bouquets and event styling services are also available. As a social enterprise floral studio, hello flowers supports women with a focus on those who are unable to work or hold full-time jobs due to various reasons. Besides employing them, Hello Flowers also runs a social training programme, KINS by hello flowers!, which equips these women with the necessary skills and a platform for them to sell their crafts and works. You can find unique pieces of jewellery, cards and embroidery which are also available for customisation.
hello flowers!, 52 Chin Swee Road #03-39, 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, bracelets, accessories, you can find them all here. The Clay Day supports a workshop and its beneficiaries in Cambodia by paying fair prices for the raw ceramic products and aims to hire local disadvantaged women in its business operations.
The Clay Day, available online
Rainbow Centre aims to empower persons with disabilities and provide them with an inclusive environment to develop skills. Head to the Seeds Cafe at their Margaret Drive campus, a cafe and social space which provides F&B training opportunities to young people with disabilities. There, you admire the botanical illustrations decoration done by students from the Rainbow Centre Talent Art Programme and check out the hand-painted furniture painted jointly by students and external partners. Grab a nice cuppa coffee while you’re here, or participate in their many interesting workshops or events.
Seeds Cafe, 501 Margaret Drive, Singapore 149306
Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh
Nursing a Bak Kut Teh craving? Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh might be your answer. Established in 2013, it’s also a place which aims to give ex-offenders a second chance at life by offering them work opportunities, which makes your dining experience here exceptionally meaningful. Besides bak kut teh, there’s plenty of delish Chinese cuisine that’s good for sharing, so bring the whole crew down!
Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh, various outlets islandwide.
Five & 2
With a scenic waterfront spot in Punggol Park, dining at this restaurant and bar is certainly a chill and relaxing affair. They’re only open from the evenings, so you can easily pop by for some casual dinner fare with your friends while enjoying a couple of drinks. On the sustainability front, the eatery aims to provide equal job opportunities and an inclusive working environment for people with disabilities and ex-inmates. For every five meals sold, a complimentary meal is also donated to a child from a resource-poor background, so keep the orders coming!
Five & 2, Punggol Park, 97 Hougang Avenue 8, Singapore 538792
Like this story? Check these out:
Volunteering in Singapore: Charities, donations and social enterprises
Donate your pre-loved goods to charity
Shop for second-hand goodies at these flea markets
Our journey to a plastic-free life