Ever noticed that towels seem to take ages to dry in humid Singapore? Georgiana Verdonk-Sim discovered an alternative that weighed less, dried faster and looked good. Here she tells us more about why everyone loves Turkish towels!
Hi Georgiana! Tell us what brought you to Singapore.
I’m lucky to have lived in a few fabulous cities, including Vancouver, Chicago and London. My family came to Singapore several years ago because my husband Marcel was posted here. At the time, I was working in a corporate job, heading up marketing for Motorola Mobility for the Asia Pacific region.
This is actually our second stint in Singapore. The first time around, Marcel and I hadn’t yet started a family and we were happily discovering every watering hole in the city! Second time around, I found that Singapore had matured significantly.
So, what inspired you to leap from your corporate role to launching your business, Summer Moments?
As with many regional jobs, I was constantly travelling, as was my husband. After a while, we agreed that I should quit my job so I could spend more time with the kids. It was a great decision for us, but I soon felt something was missing.
I do a lot of online shopping and am a strong supporter of local businesses, so it was a no-brainer to start something of my own, and to introduce a product I had come to realise was much needed in humid Singapore: Turkish towels. They’re perfect for this climate as they are lightweight and dry quickly, making them ideal to tote around with you as you explore all the lovely beaches around the region.
What are the towels made of?
Traditional peshtemals were woven from cotton, linen or bamboo yarn, and were originally used in the Turkish hammam bath. Our towels are made of fine, 100 percent Turkish cotton.
At Summer Moments, we create our own designs, and also curate a stunning collection of peshtemals from Turkey. They are made of extra long cotton fibres, which makes them more durable and softer than regular terry towels. They are traditionally woven on handlooms, but many manufacturers have moved on to using mechanised looms to increase production efficiency.
How exactly do peshtemals differ from regular towels?
They’re famous for drying faster – that’s the main difference. For the same absorption capacity, they are very lightweight. It’s much more convenient to carry five peshtemals for a family trip to Sentosa than five thick, conventional beach towels. Another bonus is that peshtemals don’t pick up and trap sand in the way regular towels tend to do – sand that inevitably ends up in your car or in your home! What’s more, they look very stylish. You can wear them as a sarong, too; terry cloth towels can feel suffocating on the skin.
Your personalisation services have been very popular, haven’t they?
Yes, and I didn’t expect it to take off like wildfire like it did! We now offer embroidered monogram services for our online customers, which started from my offering a simple embroidery service for my friends who wanted to take home a customised present.
Over the past 12 months, it has evolved to become a larger part of my business. I now supply quite a few events and corporate companies who are looking for unique, personalised items with their logo for their customers or staff. I also work with boutique hotels who want to replace their pool towels with something that dries faster.
What’s next for the business?
Continuing to convert even the biggest fans of terry to peshtemals, of course! I also head up the business side of the digital marketing consulting firm Be Found Online for Asia Pacific.
I’m a strong supporter of all things digital, and I’ve met many women over the past few years who are keen to start a retail business but feel daunted by the task, believing that e-commerce is just too hard. It isn’t! Anyone can start small and work her way up to building a highly profitable company, and there are many tools out there to help us become digitally savvy businesswomen.
According to The Statistic Portal, Singapore’s e-commerce market revenue is expected to grow at an annual rate of 10.1 percent, reaching US$5,489 million in 2022. That’s why, besides beefing up Summer Moments’ online presence, I would like to encourage budding entrepreneurs to get into the e-commerce game.
Finally, tell us where you have travelled to with your towels.
They’ve been to some amazing locations, including Phuket, Myanmar, Thailand, Bali, Portugal and the Dubai desert. We’ve used them as a towel, a sarong wrap, a scarf (when the temperature drops) and a blanket.
On our recent trip to Myanmar, my teen son had outgrown his shorts and his knees were showing. He was not allowed to enter the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon unless he covered up his knees. Out came his Turkish towel, which he promptly wrapped around his torso before taking a selfie to illustrate his keen sense of fashion! My travelling Turkish towel came to my rescue when we were at Inle Lake and I started feeling rather chilly as the sun went down.
Now, the only problem I face before I travel is to decide which colour and which design to pack!
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