We talk to fashion designer Biek Speijk about moving to Singapore for love and the businesses she’s set up since. She now juggles being an entrepreneur in Singapore and mum, and creates collage art from recycled clothes. Her businesses include how to design and organise a wardrobe to suit your lifestyle and personality while offering an ethical and sustainable decluttering service.
Biek is Dutch and married to American husband Judson. She’s been living in Singapore since 2019, and managed to get her DP just before lockdown! She has a son, Ivy (18 months), and is currently pregnant with their second baby. She has a couple of interesting businesses – we find out about those and her background.
Where are you from originally?
I grew up in Rotterdam, a city in the Netherlands, and I loved to cycle there and in Amsterdam to discover new spots to shop or eat. I’m still getting used to managing time zone differences and not being around my close friends for weekly coffees, dinner dates, and spontaneous catch-ups. However, I’m not missing the Dutch weather – in my opinion, nothing beats the sun, so there is a lot to enjoy living here.
What brought you to Singapore?
Love brought me to Singapore! After living in Amsterdam for a few years to design for a Dutch denim brand, a new job drew me to China, working for a well-known Danish fashion label targeting the Asian market. I joined their office for a couple of years. It was an amazing opportunity to see different fashion designs in Asia and to travel basically every month to Seoul and Tokyo for inspiration.
While I was in Beijing, I met my now-husband Judson. He had just resigned from his job after working for six years in China and was about to sign a contract in Singapore. We survived a long distance relationship for a year by meeting every month somewhere in the world.
Soon I realised that my design career was not as important as finding the love of my life and starting a family with him. So, I handed in my notice and surprisingly it didn’t feel like a scary big leap. I happily moved to Singapore on a tourist visa in the middle of 2019. Five months later, we were engaged and then four months after that we got married in Singapore, all during the prologue of lockdown. Our marriage was also the first step in our IVF journey to start our family, and in July 2021 our son was born. He is the fourth in line with the family name, so we have given him the nickname Ivy.
Tell us a bit about your business or projects in Singapore.
Biekaleidoscope combines my fashion experience with collage art to help women transform and organise their wardrobes, feel confident and hold on to treasured items. It was born out of my love for fashion, dislike for unnecessary waste and appreciation for quality clothing, influenced by years in the design industry. So, I help women organise and curate their wardrobe and find the confidence to express themselves through the art of fashion.
Ultimately, I help women to see their clothes as an extension of themselves and their lifestyle by working with what they already have. Organising and designing a wardrobe is about shifting your mindset from predominantly thinking about how you look to consider how you feel.
I teach women how to make conscious choices in their wardrobe by decluttering. It’s all about letting go of what no longer serves them, getting to the essence of their being, and organising their wardrobe into something that represents who they are beyond the surface level. A similar process to making a collage.
I achieve my vision through one-on-one wardrobe curation and organisation and creating collage art with recycled clothes and fabrics. This multifaceted approach to a decluttering service reflects the complex and changing interconnection of fashion, art and people. That’s why my business name incorporates the word kaleidoscope.
I emphasise my messaging by making collage art from recycled clothes, which is also about cutting away what you don’t need and putting together the things you love to make something new. If you’re finding it difficult to say goodbye to the precious memories attached to particular articles of clothing, I keep those stories alive by turning your old but cherished clothes into pieces of art that you will continue to love and appreciate.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
I’m a real mumpreneur, so I currently work three days a week to combine motherhood with my business. My mornings are for writing content, replying to emails and creating session plans and style guides, for my clients to continue to use in their future fashion journeys. I love when I have the chance to design the first session of my program, “Biekluttering” my clients’ wardrobes in two to three hours.
I spend my afternoons making my collage art from recycled clothes and analysing clients’; clothes and behaviour in follow-up sessions to help create long-lasting changes. It’s amazing to see the differences in their mindsets. When it finally clicks, they discover why some items are not working and the temptation to make impulsive purchases fades because they know exactly what they want and need. I find it such an honour to be by their side witnessing this change over the course of a 30-day closet deep dive.
Any surprises or challenges you’ve found living and working in Singapore?
I found the first year of entrepreneurship in Singapore quite lonely. But I recently joined an entrepreneurial group called Launchpad, which has been amazing for connecting with similar small businesses and entrepreneurs. Everyone is really supportive. Having this community to fall back on has been really important for those of us who have left close friends and relatives at home, and also because friends in Singapore often leave after a few years.
What are a few things you like to do in Singapore when you’re not organising a wardrobe?
Going out in nature! I love the mix of Singapore’s modern city and beautiful nature – there is nothing like it. Areas can sometimes feel influenced by the West, and then you turn a corner and feel a more local charm again. I think that makes Singapore so special and unique.
The nature in Singapore is just so amazing. We live in Bukit Timah, so we have some great areas nearby including Bukit Batok, the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, the Rail Corridor, and the Botanic Gardens. It does take a bit of time to get used to being sweaty and immersed in the humidity, but it’s so worth it. When I’m in nature, I feel incredibly grateful for the life I have here.
I also really enjoy swimming and going to Sentosa. There is nothing better to me than having your feet in the sand and listening to the sound of the ocean. Even though it’s a manmade beach and I sometimes feel like I’m entering Disneyland when I cross the bridge to the islands, the beach is really my go-to spot for feeling good.
What are your goals or aspirations for the future?
I would really like to build a community of women that I have helped through organising their wardrobes and turning their recycled clothes into collage art with my decluttering service. And, more importantly, to help people feel fantastic and experience this in a positive domino effect in their lives. I would love my collage art to be part of exhibitions, in galleries, pop-ups, fairs and shops.
I have considered starting my own small label of limited essential pieces, finished in a beautiful way, ethically sourced and inclusive. But I am still fighting with whether we really need another fashion brand. The answer is no, and it would never really be sustainable because sustainable fashion is an oxymoron. However, I do feel the need to create high- quality designs that I have not come across. So I feel that this could be my future mission in the fashion industry.
Quick questions on Singapore: what is your favourite …
Casual restaurant? Potato Head – I just love the rooftop bar
Date-night restaurant? Tippling Club
Bar? Rebel Rebel wine bar
Local food? Laksa!
Nature space? Botanic Gardens
Things to do with visitors? See the light and sound show at Gardens by the Bay and eat satay
Nearby holiday destination? Oh, gosh, there is still so much to explore – I love road tripping in Australia (not sure if that counts as nearby!); otherwise, I have very fond memories of Tioman Island, Malaysia
Find out more about decluttering services to organise your wardrobe and turning recycled clothes into collage art at biekaleidoscope.com, and read more people profiles at expatliving.sg.
This article first appeared in the January 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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