Changing the name of an established business is not a decision to be made lightly. FairPrice Antique had been around for more than 17 years and had a reputation as one of the go-to stores in Singapore when shopping for antique furnishings. Owner of FairPrice Antique, Chantal Travers, gives us the lowdown on renaming this much-loved Singapore furniture store.
Why have you changed the name?
When I took over the business in 2016, it was never my intention to change the name. It’s been around for over 17 years and has a fantastic reputation, but it became apparent there was some confusion. Some felt it was linked to NTUC, or they expected a dusty old antique shop; and they definitely didn’t think we sold handcrafted northern Chinese furniture!
I realised we needed a name that customers could connect to on an emotional level, and be proud to tell others they had purchased from. It needed to be a name that wasn’t about me as the owner, but rather about the experience and products we sell, and where they come from.
How did you shortlist the entries?
I generally shortlisted ones that were related in some way to Chinese culture, that talked to our artisan product, that was unique, and, of course, that I liked because I have to live with it and believe in it.
The shortlist, including one name from myself and one from my colleague Verity, was sent around to a panel of advisors including artists, long-term partners and customers of the shop, interior designers we work with and branding experts.
So … drum roll … what did you choose?
Emperor’s Attic! Verity, my right-hand woman in all things FairPrice Antique, and now Willow Mattress, came up with this name. She looks after a lot of the marketing, operations and admin, allowing me to focus more on the product, social media and sales side, which are the bits I love most.
Emperor’s Attic is a name that says exactly who we are today. The first word speaks to our northern Chinese heritage and it implies quality, select and artisan pieces. When combined with the word “attic” it gives it that sense of grounding, with the implication of affordability, while also hinting at a place to find unique and hidden treasure. It’s perfect, and I absolutely love it!
It’s been almost two years since you took over the business; is it everything you expected?
I’ve never worked harder, and never been happier. It’s more than I ever expected in terms of everything – more hours and so many different balls to juggle, but more satisfaction and more happiness. There is nothing better for me than when a customer recognises the difference in quality of construction and finish, and when they themselves fall in love with a piece that I love too.
When you’re not at the shop, where do you go close by for a great bite or drink?
We do love Bakalaki for dinner! If you’re visiting the Tan Boon Liat Building, we are about an eight-minute walk from Tiong Bahru, where you’ll find spots like Forty Hands and Plain Vanilla, plus the Tiong Bahru Bakery for coffee and the best croissants in town!
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