Cove Collection founders Jacquie Hourihane and Emily Greally share their stories of their journey to Singapore and to opening Sentosa’s only boutique and gift shop, which recently relocated to W Hotel Singapore at Sentosa Cove.
Where are you from, and what led you to Singapore?
Jacquie: I’m from Dublin, and I came here with my husband for his work in 1995 for “two years”; 28 years later, we’re still here. We both wanted to leave Dublin for a few years – we just never planned on it being so many! My husband started his own business in 2001, which is the main reason we stayed so long.
Emily: We arrived from the UK in 2013, also having told ourselves we’d come for two years. We had both always loved Singapore, often travelling in Asia and ensuring a visit was part of the holiday. After we’d decided against a possible move to Dubai, we said that if something came up in Singapore, we could definitely imagine living here; I didn’t realise that husband had a job lined up here in the wings already! So our pooch and our two cats got bundled up and shipped to Singapore with us.
Tell us a bit about your careers and other places you’ve lived.
J: I’ve been in retail most of my life. I was teaching English as a foreign language when we came to Singapore. When my son was around five, I took a break and started my own business bringing in silver jewellery from Bali and designing a line of children’s dress-up costumes called Jack & Jill. I’ve taken part in fairs and pop-ups since then, including meeting Emily and joining forces to organise the Sentosa Fair. We even managed to have fairs of sorts in 2020 and 2021, despite restrictions.
E: I’ve lived in Spain and Switzerland previously – my French is pretty proficient and my Spanish fluent (well, it used to be!). My background is publishing – retail marketing and events. I started in advertising sales many moons ago, which led to me running my own company for 10 years in the UK before being lured back to work in national and international press. With three other ladies, I set up the Sentosa Fair around seven years ago, and Jac and I produced our first fair four years ago; that led to us realising we worked well together, and to launching our business together.
What are the latest steps on your work-life journey?
The most recent, and best, development has been Cove Collection’s relocation to the W Hotel Sentosa. We feel incredibly lucky to be located in these gorgeous surroundings, and the W Hotel team are so helpful and supportive. The feedback from hotel guests has been amazing too. We have a constant stream of new customers who say our stock is so beautiful; it keeps us constantly motivated to surpass ourselves. And to have the continuing support of our existing Sentosa residents coming to see our new location has been totally fantastic.
Why did you decide to set up Cove Collection?
We were organising a Sentosa Christmas Fair in 2021, and were saying how we’d love to have a retail presence in Sentosa but there was nothing available. When the opportunity to take the downstairs space in Bali on the Cove restaurant arose, we jumped at it, and Cove Collection was born. We had a popup there for just over a year before moving to the W Hotel two minutes away.
What made Sentosa Cove the place of choice?
Emily lives on the Island, and there was no retail in Sentosa Cove with the exception of a couple of supermarkets and other services. We both agreed that with all the residential development on Sentosa, a boutique in Sentosa Cove would be a good addition.
What do you love about what you do?
Everything! We have found the best business partners in each other. We respect each other completely, listening and taking on board what the other has to say. It’s a true partnership – we’re friends and business partners, but we don’t live in each other’s pockets. Our plans and vision are 100 percent aligned on Cove Collection, where we see the business going and also our aspirations and dreams. We also love everything about our new boutique and working in such a lovely environment at the W Hotel Sentosa.
What are you looking forward to this year?
Seeing our business grow and the shop go from strength to strength – and the continued opportunity to work with such amazing vendors! Also, the fact that the Sentosa Fair is back in a big way makes us incredibly happy! It’s a crazy amount of work for both of us, but we love doing it.
2nd Floor, W Hotel Singapore – Sentosa Cove, 21 Ocean Way
email@example.com | IG @cove_collectionsg
This article first appeared in the July 2023 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!
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