5 Local brands in Singapore to look out for

By Catherine E Cheok

I have to admit that I am skeptical when it comes to local brands. The kind of skepticism that is very much an inert characteristic of a true Singaporean. The kind which makes us quick to raise doubts and negativity instead of praise. The kind that makes us Natural Born Complainers.

That said, I have come to appreciate the advantages in supporting local brands in recent years. my hostility was thawed by some of the good products I used (without knowing that it is local), reasonable price ta, and ahem, a growing sense of patriotism as I get older. Though I prefer to think that I have attained a level of maturity now whereby I am able to assess products without any pre-conceived biasness.

Here is my list of five local brands that have come within my radar. These are brands that I come across as a consumer. Brands with products I had bought in the past, or are using now or likely to use in the future. The list here excludes service based brands or B2B businesses which I am sure there are many good ones out there (Browhaus comes to mind for instance). A product has to be considered not just on its own merits, but also with its competitors. In electronics for example, we have some long-standing Singapore-based brands that have gone regional or international though may have to jostle for the limelight in this fiercely competitive industry. in this regard, Creative Technology is the pride of our nation and will always have my respect.

1. The Skin Pharmacy (TSP)

I only came to know this brand (http://www.theskinpharmacy.com/) recently last year in 2017 though it was founded in 2009, when I was attracted to its slogan of natural-based ingredients with no parabens, no alcohol, no artificial preservatives and blah blah. I was, at that time, desperately seeking something to control my dandruff and skin breakout. It upped its appeal when I was offered a free evaluation of my skin by a pharmacist in the store. Besides skin care products, it also offers body care and hair wash options, as well as essential oil. After I explained the problem with my itchy scalp, the pharmacist added some compounds to the bottle of Natural Conditioning Shampoo – Cool Peppermint I had picked. This was to help with oil control for my scalp. Given that I have sensitive skin and scalp, I am glad that I managed to find products that target at my problems without burning a hole in my wallet. I now use its range of products for my acne prone skin and sensitive scalp religiously. The price may not be as affordable compared to what you can find in a Watson or Guardian store though I am glad to find something that finally works for me without having to consider La Mer.

2. Akira

Akira brand (http://www.tt-intl.com/) is no stranger to many of us. This name may not readily register as a Singapore brand (for one thing, Akira reminds me of the famous Japanese anime of the same title in the late 80s) but it is as the sales staff at the consumer electronics and furniture fair eagerly assured me. I had, by then, already done some research on the potential labels to look out for to shop for my new house and happy to conclude that Akira came out as top in terms of affordability. Given that most electronic products expire within two to three years of production regardless of their make, I think Akira is a viable option for that lifespan, quality and affordability such as their TV sets. I bought two of these at the fair that day. From online review, though, it seems like the quality of their products would depend on your “luck”. I am keeping my fingers crossed for mine.

3. Dodo fish balls

I did not know about Thong Siek Food Industry (http://www.thongsiek.com/) though I am familiar with Dodo fish balls, and Dodo comes from Thong Siek. I am sure many of you would be familiar with Dodo brand if you frequent the supermarkets. There, you will find their fish balls, crab flavored sticks, cuttlefish balls and the list goes on for the surimi-based products from Thong Siek. I chose Dodo perhaps because it is cheaper than the rest and well, it tastes as good as any other brands.

4. Levit8

Levit8 is considered a young start-up when it launched its Kickstarter campaign in 2016 (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1459624267/levit8-the-first-truly-portable-standing-desk). It was formed by three girls with industrial design background who came up with the idea of a flat, folding portable standing laptop stand. You can now find this product selling on online stores such as Amazon. The product review is mixed though my personal take is, this is something that caters to a very specific need, if not, it may likely end up as a white elephant in your house. I may eventually get one as my workaholic nature means I have to be hunched over my laptop even when on the move. This product is portable, light and so affordable that I can tap on to assist with my poor posture. Though it may not suffice as a long term ergonomic solution for your poor back. I hope by then the team would have resolved their occasional manufacturing glitches. I am counting on these ladies not to go down the same dark passage as fellow Kickstarter alumni, Pirate3D with their magnificent flop.

5. Raoul

Raoul is, technically speaking, not a local retail brand anymore as it closes its last fashion boutique in Singapore in 2016. Raoul is under the local fashion giant, FJ Benjamin, which speaks a lot of its appeal and reliability. I used to go to its stores when I need some work shirts with nice fitting and good workmanship. It was only after some time that I found out Raoul is Singapore made. Raoul is focusing on its wholesale business overseas though you can find Raoul on selected online stores for your shopping preference.