Making it her own

Geraldine Tan
Geraldine Tan
Geraldine Tan sells enamel pins
Scented soy candles

WITH the rise of e-commerce, and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), it has become increasingly easy for anyone to create their own business. The millennial generation who grew up with the internet and technology are particularly adept in them, and such is the case too for Geraldine Tan.

She started Milk & Honey just last Dec, which initially sold enamel pins. She then ventured into scented soy candles and recently, patches.

We speak to the former barista and assistant manager at Roost – she's currently a public relations executive – to find out how it's like merging a creative side with a small business.

Growing up, were you always exposed to art?

Yes, I would say so. I had a friend in primary school who was just very creative naturally. I asked her where she learned to draw and paint so well, and she told me to join the free art classes that were held in the school. I did, and that was where I learned how to handle a brush properly, draw properly, and how to blend colours. That's how my interest in art started.

When did you realise you were artistically inclined?

In high school, we had a subject called Pendidikan Seni & Lukis. I always looked forward to the classes, but then I thought it was because I enjoyed the classes, that's why I did well in them.

It wasn't until one time my teacher told me I may have an art skill I should harness. He got my friends and I to paint the school with murals. Every time we painted, people who walked past would tell us we were really good at it.

The compliments stuck with me and I thought that perhaps, after I graduated from high school, I could venture into art.

How did Milk & Honey come about?

It was thanks to my own interest in collecting pins. I was constantly buying designs drawn by other people so I thought, maybe I could come up with my own designs and if other people liked them, they could purchase it. The thought of having people buy my designs and pieces made me very happy to just share this joy of little, tiny enamel pins.

How do you get inspiration to design your enamel pins?

Inspiration comes from everywhere; it could be from a television series I'm bingeing on, snacks that I like, or phrases that I say.

For my monster pins, they were actually designed back in high school. I completely forgot about them until earlier this year when my mother brought it up.

She suggested that I turn them into enamel pins, because no one else has them, and no one else knew about them. I took her advice and even gave them colours, names, and characters.

How did Milk & Honey evolve from enamel pins to different products like scented soy candles and patches?

I've always been interested in details and candle-making requires a lot of thought-processes.

When I finally sat down after days of researching, I made a small batch and realise how important aromatherapy is to people today. We're so busy with our hectic lives that we sometimes need time for ourselves just to settle down and be calm. Scented soy candles have the ability to do that. I wanted to make it in a way people can afford it and be soothed by something so simple.

As for patches, I don't make them myself but I collect them throughout my travels. It's a great way to personalise your wardrobe by putting these little items on your jacket, bag, or shirt.

If you buy your clothes from say, H&M, you're bound to bump into someone in the mall with the same outfit. To really make it your own, patches and pins are the way to go.

How do you plan to expand Milk & Honey as a brand?

For me, right now the focus is to establish the brand as an enamel pin brand before venturing into a holistic lifestyle brand.

Along the way, I will need to have more original designs to work with. I plan to have pop up stores in bazaars to get my brand out there and see how my designs connect with the local community.

My enamel pins sell well overseas, but I also want them to sell well locally. Hence, bazaars are the way to go.