The new owner of antiques shop Emperor’s Attic and Willow Mattress, NURAIN RAMLY, chats to us about her love for interiors and the future plans for her furniture shop.
Tell us a little about yourself first.
I was born in Singapore and, like so many Singaporeans, we come from varied backgrounds. My mother was from Sarawak, my dad from Sri Lanka, and I have lived here for most of my 43 years. I studied in The Netherlands and continued living there for four years. Now I have two children, Aidan (11) and Kyra (9), who go to the Holland International School.
We live very close to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. We’ve lived in the same area for eight years and love how quiet it is. It’s surrounded by nature, yet an eight-minute walk to the nearest supermarket.
What’s your career background?
I worked for an audit firm as well as a relocations company. In 2017 I then represented a group of Estonian fashion brands, which became available in Takashimaya. I began participating in and creating events for other Nordic brands. This saw me work closely with the Finnish community here.
In August 2020, I started working for Chantal Travers, the previous owner of Emperor’s Attic. Starting off as a part-time retail staff member, I moved on to helping her with accounts and daily operations. By February 2022, I had become the antiques shop store manager.
In the back of my mind, I had always wanted to have my own business again. I was dreaming of a little furniture shop, always looking out for ideas, the direction I would go into and how to make that happen. It was only when Chantal approached me early this year to tell me she was moving out of Singapore that it all clicked. It was then I decided to take over the antiques shop.
How did the handover process go?
Working with Chantal has always been easy, so, needless to say, the handover was also a smooth one. My three years of experience working with Emperor’s Attic and Willow Mattress has also helped tremendously. Right now, I don’t have many tips to pass on as I am just settling into my new role. However, I do know that it’s very important to do everything with great passion and respect, and to be ready to step outside your comfort zone.
Where does your interest in furniture, home décor and interiors come from?
I’ve always had an interest in all things home. I’m usually quite a simple person – it was like love at first sight when I came into the Emperor’s Attic shop for the first time, and it made me open my eyes to see the beauty in old pieces and appreciate colours. I saw how you can make them work even in the most contemporary of homes and the endless possibilities you have with each piece. Being an employee for three years has definitely played a big part in the growing interest and appreciation I now have in now running my own furniture shop in Singapore.
How will you be making your own stamp on the company?
I will definitely be adding my own touch to the businesses. This includes continuously improving on the current collaborations I have with our partner brands. I’m also working on a few things to provide a new range of unique “East meets West” collections.
My main aim for the future is to continue to build on the success Emperor’s Attic has already had. The future aim is to expand it into a one-stop shopping experience for our customers.
Nurain’s recommendations in the neighbourhood and beyond
- If you’re looking for something to eat or drink after shopping at my antiques shop, I suggest Angie’s Oyster Bar, right here in the Tan Boon Liat Building.
- Other great options in the neighbourhood are the Tiong Bahru Bakery on Eng Hoon Street, and Caffe Pralet, perfect for a quiet afternoon to unwind.
- My top three places to go to eat or drink in Singapore are Din Tai Fung, North Miznon and Limehouse.
- Our favourite holiday destination is Bali! It always feels like home, where we are surrounded by friendly people and amazing food.
You can find Emperor’s Attic furniture shop at #01-10 Tan Boon Liat Building, 315 Outram Road.
9011 0380 | emperorsattic.com
This article on a Singapore antiques shop first appeared in the October 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe so you never miss a copy!
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