Since 2015 Maissone has been a leading the way within a cluster of some of Singapore's coolest cafes and independent boutiques in Tiong Bahru. The contemporary homeware store offers a beautifully curated mix of scandi and tribal pieces that are sure to impress. After recently winning an international retail award, New Zealand-born founder Michelle Boyce shares her retail journey and let us in on her healthy obsession with design and interiors.
How did you get started in retail? What were you doing before you opened your store?
Before I opened Maissone I travelled and cared for my children. I saw a large gap in the Singapore market for contemporary homeware and that’s how Maissone came about. We started in 2014 as an online business based at home and in 2015 opened a showroom, soon after we moved within the same street to a larger location.
What inspired you to open your store?
The love of interiors inspired me. Friends would always ask where I got unique items I collected on my travels. There was an unmet consumer need for contemporary homeware and bedlinen in Singapore and decided to use my drive and passion to make Maissone what it is today.
If asked to describe your store to someone unfamiliar with it, what would you say?
We are located in the unique and diverse district of Tiong Bahru. We carry various brands from across the globe with product ranging from Scandinavian to tribal designs. Maissone is a virtual business card and portfolio for the company – its online home.
What makes your store unique?
We only carry brands that are not readily available in Singapore that are sourced globally. We also pride ourselves on working with small businesses and integrating strong international brands, with a local presence so that our customers have the best of everything available to them in one place.
Congratulations on winning IHA 2017-2018 Global Innovation Award for Retail Excellence South-Eat Asia. What does the win mean to you?
Thank you! Winning the IHA Global Innovation Award for Retail Excellence in South East Asia has definitely been one of our biggest achievements. The award is both a meaningful accomplishment for myself and the team, as well as an important milestone for the brand. For a small business, recognition on an international scale based on innovation and excellence is a significant success for us. Exposure at a global level has been beneficial for brand strengthening and awareness.
You have customers (in Singapore and beyond) that have been shopping at your store since it opened. Who are your customers?
Our customers are both expats and locals of all age groups. Some customers have been visiting since Maissone opened and some are brand new. We love meeting new people, from all walks of life and catching up with our regular customers when they stop by.
You have a very minimalist / Scandi aesthetic. Can you tell us a bit about the brands you curate? And why?
We prefer to work with boutique brands we know personally. It’s really important to us to support other small businesses; we like to be familiar with the faces behind the brands and foster close relationships. With our expansion over the last few years, we have been working with more European brands while still actively sourcing in Australasia. With regards to our aesthetic, we keep away from mainstream materials like plastic and prefer well-made ceramic, wood, metal and glass products designed by industry creatives.
What are your best selling products?
Products from all lifestyle categories – Most of our product is unique and sourced in small quantities, so it never hangs around for too long!
Where do you look for inspiration?
We look for inspiration firstly and most importantly – through feedback from our customers. We also consult social media, books, magazines, travelling and trade fairs. We travel several times a year to trade fairs around the globe to source unique product, gather inspiration and check out seasonal trends.
How has the Internet impacted your business?
The Internet allows us, as retailers, to connect with potential customers and to express our brand in new ways. A synergy of online and brick and mortar allows us to reach our customers through different outlets. Technology is the way forward and it is transforming our customer’s shopping experiences.
What do you think the future holds for your store and shopping in Singapore?
Millenials are currently dominating the workforce in Singapore. Given their upbringing in a digital age we have to adjust and evolve to keep up the pace and needs of our consumers. It is important to evolve with technology and not rely on one particular platform.
If you could give one piece of advice to the youth, or someone starting out in their career, what would you say?
You need to be a motivated thinker and a self-starter. You really have to invest your time and effort in your passion to make it succeed. Perseverance is key.