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Part 2 – Behind Blum Collection – Conversation with Anne-Laure Feat

This article is a 2-part interview, you can read the first part here.

#1 – Your notebooks are handmade Indonesia. Why Indonesia ?

It’s really a story of meetings. I was  already thinking about launching Blum, always carrying a notebook with me. One day, I had lunch with a friend, who introduced me to another friend of her.

This person told me about her project: the creation of a leather goods brand. As we talked, she explained that she was flying to Indonesia the following week to choose her leathers and make her first prototypes. At that time, I just came out of a 5 years professional experience at Cartier, in leather buying. As she had little experience in the field, we agreed that I would go with her to Indonesia so that I could advise her and help her select her materials.

Having also told her about my project, she asked me to take my notebook with me and that we look together for a way to launch my activity, even to make a prototype.
A week later we took off from Indonesia & I had with me the first prototype of what would become Blum!

#2 – How do you advise someone who is looking for a notebook?

Good question! People who’re buying for themselves a notebook from the Collection simply choose their favorite. This is the easiest because they know their preferences.

Then there are those who buy Blum for a gift. I find them particularly interesting, even touching, because most of the time, they start telling you about the person, their stories & tastes. You get to know someone you don’t actually know [laughs]. It is amazing because these people are extremely eager to please & the search for fabric becomes a real subject.

#3 – Do you consider Blum Collection as a committed brand?

I would say that it is a committed brand in the sense that the story of Blum is the story of two parallel encounters: that of a young woman in Singapore [see first part of the interview] and that of a 25 year old boy in Indonesia. This young boy – who’s now my agent – was finishing his studies when I met him. Nevertheless, in Indonesia, it is very difficult to find a job and to get out of these rather agricultural generations. I accompanied him in financing his last projects & he started to work for me. We learned to trust each other, especially during the Covid period.

We’re having an extremely human exchange, I try to advise him as well as possible – he is not just an agent to whom I send fabrics. On his side, it allows him to discover this professional field, to learn a lot. In my small way, this is how Blum Collection commits itself.

About the notebook itself, the paper I use is an Italian paper. The goal tomorrow is to find a paper with the same characteristics but recycled or from a more local source.
Finally, I really want to go and find fabric mills where you can reuse fabric scraps. That’s what I would like to find in the long run. In terms of creativity, there are some pretty crazy things to find.

#4 – How many copies of each notebook are produced?
Some notebooks are produced in two/three copies. Some of Blum Collection’s products are also made of vintage fabrics, which come from Shanghai and date from the 1960s. Their small flaws are part of their uniqueness and authenticity.Someone who buys these notebooks will obviously be the only person to own it since no two are alike. Some of the notebooks are made in larger quantities – but we stay at 30-40 maximum. I have much less fun with reproductions.

You have a metric – it is what it is. The number of copies varies depending on that.

#5 – Which difficulties have you encountered since the launch of your entrepreneurial journey?

The first challenge I face is production as Indonesian & European ways of doing can be totally different – and from my experience in French Luxury Maisons I sometimes face situations that I would not have expected.

After production, I would say promotion & sales. On the one hand because it is for me a whole other business. Then because when you are a French person in Singapore, you are not really “at home”. You have to understand who is who, how things work, who are the best people to meet… Then, you have to try: some popups work, others don’t. Selling is a real challenge for me.

#6 – Wouldn’t you like to reach out more to the local population in Singapore?

I would love that. My challenge at the moment is to understand when, where and how we could capture the local community because expectations are completely different – when Japanese people come to a popup and look at the notebooks, they have a very important concern for detail for example. That’s amazing.

You have to try to understand how communities work and how to approach them.
I think that’s a job I’d have to do. In terms of aesthetics, I think the locals might be waiting for something else: a collection that is less colorful, less graphic. Something more in line with what they are used to seeing.

#7 – But wouldn’t that be changing Blum’s spirit?

Yes, maybe a little – and that’s probably why I’m not at that stage yet. On the other hand, there is nothing to stop me from having different collections. What I like is to mix products: when I prepare a popup, my stand is extremely colorful but there is always a kind of unity.

But it’s still different to mix two cultures with totally different expectations.

#8 – Where can we find Blum Collection in Singapore?

You can find my products either in popups (see you in December!) & directly online. I am also listed in two stores in Cluny Court where I try to change regularly the collections!

#9 – One last word to conclude?

I’m thrilled with this adventure. I’ve got a few busy months ahead of me, including Boutique Fairs from Nov. 27th to Nov.29th, which is the biggest event I’ve been to since Blum has been founded!

It’s very challenging and I’m also quite proud [laughs], I can’t wait!

French Shopping, Dining & Lifestyle guide in Singapore