Carolyn Kan

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Carolyn Kan
Carolyn Kan profile.jpg
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne (Bachelor Degree in Psychology)
OccupationFine jewellery designer
Known forFounder of Carrie K.
Spouse(s)Chiew Huan Chong (m. 1999)
Websitehttps://www.carriekrocks.com/

Carolyn Kan is the founder and designer of artisan jewellery brand Carrie K. Besides Carrie K., Carolyn is also involved in programmes with Lasalle College of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.[1] She is also the co-founder of Keepers, a collective of Singaporean independent designers, artists and craftsmen who come together to showcase their craft in rotational thematic installations.

Background

Carolyn graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from the University of Melbourne in 1993.[2] In 1998, she started working for M&C Saatchi Singapore, a multinational advertising agency. In 2003, she took on the role of Managing Director at the agency.[3] The company ended its operations in 2008 and Carolyn went on a sabbatical for a year.[4]


While on sabbatical, Carolyn co-founded Lolla’s Secret Suppers with her friends. As a secret supper club, Carolyn and her friends would disclose the club’s menus and venues only a day before, drawing strangers to mingle over meals.[5]

Personal life

Carolyn first met Chiew Huan Chong in 1994. However, they lost touch and only reunited in 1997. Chiew proposed to Carolyn in 1998 and they got married at Queen of Peace Church in 1999.[6]


Chiew used to be a General Manager of the Shanghai branch of an international aluminium firm. In 2012, he left Shanghai and started a photography business in Singapore. He joined Carolyn as the co-founder of Carrie K. where he is in charge of the brand’s production and photography.[7]

Carrie K. (2009 - present)

As of 2019, Carrie K. has an atelier at Funan Mall.

Apprenticeship in Italy (2008)

While she was on sabbatical in 2008, Carolyn travelled to Florence, Italy to learn Italian. There, she was acquainted with a silversmith and decided to embark on a month-long apprenticeship under her. After creating her first ring, Carolyn described the moment as an epiphany and decided to pursue silversmithing and jewellery design.[8]


Upon returning to Singapore in 2009, Carolyn enrolled in a two-year part-time jewellery design programme at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). At the same time, she established her jewellery brand and began travelling the world to learn more about gems while finding suppliers and artisans.[9]

Carrie K. debut (2009)

Carrie K. debuted at the Quintessential at Pacific Plaza. Its debut collection included leather charm bracelets, rings and earrings handcrafted using gold, sterling silver and pearls. The label only made S$19,000 in sales in 2009. However, in 2011, the numbers jumped to S$211,000 and all profits were reinvested into growing the business.[10]

Expansion

Internationally, Carrie K. is stocked in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, the United States of America, Australia and Saudi Arabia.[11] In 2019, Carrie K. opened an atelier at the newly renovated Funan Mall.

Notable collaborations & collections

Carolyn’s fascination with jewellery was evident since her university days. While in Melbourne, she started a sketchbook of jewellery designs which would inspire the basis of Carrie K. creations.[12] Over the years, Carolyn has been commissioned by various brands and organisations to create unique collections.

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Carrie K.'s Beauty and the Beast collection in collaboration with Disney.

In 2017, Carrie K. collaborated with Disney to produce a jewellery line in light of the film’s release. In this collection, Carolyn juxtaposed precious gems against jagged patterns to bring out the contrast between Belle’s elegance and the Beast’s imperfections. Through this collaboration, she hoped to make artisan jewellery more accessible to consumers.[13]


Prices of items in this jewellery line range from S$98 to S$938.[14]

Kapok (2016)

The leather bracelets for Kapok. Photo from Buro 247.

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the Hong Kong lifestyle store Kapok approached Carolyn to design a capsule collection.[15]


For this collaboration, Carolyn designed unisex leather bracelets and rings in different finishes. The bracelets came in four colours - dark blue, black, brown and light tan. Each bracelet had a top-plated window hook that wearers could customise with an engraving. The sterling hooks came in two finishes - rose gold and 14K gold plated.[16]


Prices started from S$198 for a silver ring to S$318 for a leather bracelet with a rose-gold or 14K gold plated window hook.[17]

Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

In 2016, Carrie K. collaborated with Walt Disney Company South-east Asia to come up with two capsule collections in light of the film’s release. Titled ‘Keyhole and Time’, the collection was inspired by the film’s theme of perspective and the character ‘Time’.[18]


The designs in the collection include ‘Time pendulum earrings’ and the ‘Time Pocket Watch necklace’. Each design came in three finishes - silver, gold and rose gold. All the pieces were made in sterling silver. Moreover, some designs featured semi-precious gems such as garnet and topaz.[19]


Prices ranged from S$258 for the Keyhole ring in sterling silver to S$1,188 for a Time Pocket Watch necklace in 14K gold-plated silver.[20]

Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) (2012)

The collection designed in collaboration with ACM. Photo from Ideas Empire.

Commissioned by Ideas Empire, a creative collective, and backed by the National Heritage Board’s Heritage Industry Incentive Programme, Carolyn designed a jewellery range inspired by the artefacts at the ACM.[21]


For this collaboration, Carolyn designed four pieces of jewellery. A silver-plated collar choker (from S$747), a silver-plated three-finger ring (S$212), a set of stacked finger rings (from S$58) and hoop earrings (from S$111).[22] Her designs were inspired by the Indonesian ear ornaments dating back to the 3rd to 8th century, as well as the silver hill-tribe jewellery from northern Thailand.[23]

Fiji Water (2012)

Carrie K. collaborated with Fiji Water for International Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Carolyn designed a woven leather strap with a silver charm in the shape of a lion’s paw. The strap could be tied around the neck bottle as a shoulder sling strap or worn as a bracelet.[24]


The leather strap was priced at S$128 and only 120 pieces were made. All proceeds went to the Breast Cancer Foundation.[25]

Exhibit shows

Over the years, Carrie K. has been featured in exhibit shows worldwide.

Year Event(s)
2017 Multiply: A Majestic Playground[26]
2015 Singapore Night Festival - Pixel Wave 2015 Exhibit[27]
2014 Paris - Spring/Summer Premiere Classe[28]


Seoul Fashion Week  - Spring/Summer Show[29]

2013 Tranoї (in conjunction with Paris Fashion Week - Fall/Winter Show)[30]


Seoul Fashion Week - Fall/Winter Show[31]


The Design Society Festival[32]

2012 Tranoї (in conjunction with Paris Fashion Week - Fall/Winter Show)[33]


Seoul Fashion Week - Fall/Winter Show[34]


Nuyou Time 10th Anniversary Special[35]

Keepers (2011 - present)

The promotional poster for the 2019 iteration of Keepers: Singapore Designer Sale. Photo from Keepers Facebook page.

Keepers series (2011)

Realising that there was a growing interest among her customers for local artisanal work, Carolyn established a quarterly collaborative event known as the 'Keepers series' in November 2011. Each iteration of Keepers has a different theme. For example, the May 2012 event was based on the theme ‘Tailored to Gentlemen’.[36]


The event aims to connect indie designers, artists and artisanal product makers with consumers who appreciate handcrafted products. Through the Keepers series, consumers can learn more about the creative and development process behind each product.[37]

Keepers: Singapore Designer Collective (2014)

Partnered with TaFf and with support from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and SPRING Singapore, Carolyn launched Keepers: Singapore Designer Collective in 2014. It was remarked as “the largest showcase of local craft and design in a purpose-built pop-up space over five months.” The debut event featured a total of 20 residents and 30 guest designers and artisans hailing from various industries such as fashion, architecture, furniture and even food.[38]


Located at Orchard Green, the event ran from 12 September 2014 to 15 February 2015. To ensure that guests would constantly have a new experience, themes were changed every month.[39]


According to reports, the main aim of Keepers was “to highlight the work of Singapore designers from multiple disciplines, and with its prominent location, excellent curation of designers and engaging events, will grow awareness and value for the work of Singapore designers and artisans.”[40]

Reception

Following the debut event in 2014, participating designers reported an increase in revenue as a result of better brand awareness.[41] From 16 July 2015 to 7 January 2016, Keepers had a pop-up store in Changi Airport’s Terminal 1 Departure Hall.[42]

Keepers found a permanent home at the National Design Centre in 2016.[43]

Awards

Year Title(s) Awarding organisation(s)
2017 Champion for Creatives and Designers Award (Multiply: A Majestic Playground)


Best Collaboration of the Year (Beauty and the Beast Collection)


Bespoke Designer of the Year Award

Singapore Fashion Awards[44]
2016 Designer of the Year (Accessories)[45]


Special Recognition (KEEPERS)[46]

Singapore Fashion Awards


Singapore Tourism Awards

2010 Jewellery Designer of the Year[47] Elle Singapore

References / Citations

  1. Helmi Yusof. “Carolyn Kan”. The Business Times. March 15, 2019. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  2. “Carrie K”. LinkedIn. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from LinkedIn.
  3. Atifa Hargrave-Silk. “M&C hires Ramsey as Asia president”. Media. June 13, 2003. Accessed 19 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  4. Robin Hicks. “M&C Saatchi calls time in Singapore”. Media. June 12, 2008. Accessed 19 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  5. Tan, Rebecca Lynne. “Unusual ways to dine”. The Straits Times. June 10, 2012. Accessed 19 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  6. “Singapore love stories: She matchmade him for a year before they married each other”. Yahoo! Lifestyle Singapore. February 14, 2018. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from sg.style.yahoo.com.
  7. Lee, Venessa. “Carrie K founder Carolyn Kan took ‘one-day sabbatical’ and found passion in jewellery design”. The Straits Times. February 1, 2016. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from straitstimes.com.
  8. Lee, Venessa. “Carrie K founder Carolyn Kan took ‘one-day sabbatical’ and found passion in jewellery design”. The Straits Times. February 1, 2016. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from straitstimes.com.
  9. Lee, Venessa. “Carrie K founder Carolyn Kan took ‘one-day sabbatical’ and found passion in jewellery design”. The Straits Times. February 1, 2016. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from straitstimes.com.
  10. Yasmine Yahya. “Ex-MD shines at making jewellery”. The Straits Times. February 15, 2012. Accessed 19 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  11. “Carrie K . in Tokyo”. The Straits Times. February 28, 2014. Accessed 13 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  12. Lee, Venessa. “Carrie K founder Carolyn Kan took ‘one-day sabbatical’ and found passion in jewellery design”. The Straits Times. February 1, 2016. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from straitstimes.com.
  13. Tan, Winnie. “Disney’s Beauty and The Beast spawns a plethora of merchandise”. The Straits Times. March 16, 2017. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  14. Tan, Winnie. “Disney’s Beauty and The Beast spawns a plethora of merchandise”. The Straits Times. March 16, 2017. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  15. “Humble window hook inspires jewellery”. The Straits Times. February 4, 2016. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  16. “Humble window hook inspires jewellery”. The Straits Times. February 4, 2016. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  17. “Humble window hook inspires jewellery”. The Straits Times. February 4, 2016. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  18. “Alice Through The Looking Glass collaborations:. The Straits Times. June 30, 2016. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  19. “Alice Through The Looking Glass collaborations:. The Straits Times. June 30, 2016. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  20. “Alice Through The Looking Glass collaborations:. The Straits Times. June 30, 2016. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  21. Deepika Shetty. “Made for museums”. The Straits Times. July 31, 2012. Accessed 19 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  22. “Crafting Mettle”. The Straits Times. July 31, 2012. Accessed 19 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  23. “Crafting Mettle”. The Straits Times. July 31, 2012. Accessed 19 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  24. “Breast cancer fund-raiser”. The Straits Times. September 28, 2012. Accessed 16 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  25. “Breast cancer fund-raiser”. The Straits Times. September 28, 2012. Accessed 16 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  26. Natasha Ann Zachariah. “Come say goodbye to the New Majestic Hotel”. The Straits Times. May 27, 2017. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  27. Nabilah Said. “Stay up with the owls”. The Straits Times. August 21, 2015. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  28. “Carrie K . in Tokyo”. The Straits Times. February 28, 2014. Accessed 13 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  29. “Carrie K. Media Factsheet”. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from cdn.shopify.com.
  30. “Carrie K. Media Factsheet”. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from cdn.shopify.com.
  31. “Showcasing S’pore fashion design globally”. The Business Times. November 23, 2013. Accessed 16 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  32. Lim, Serene. “Two to tango; design buffs are set to rejoice next month with The Design Society Festival and Singaplural”. Today. February 25, 2013. Accessed 19 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  33. "A date with Paris”. The Straits Times. February 24, 2012. Accessed 16 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  34. “Carrie K. Media Factsheet”. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from cdn.shopify.com.
  35. "Happenings - Arts”. The Straits Times. August 24, 2012. Accessed 19 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  36. Tan, Winnie. “Disney’s Beauty and The Beast spawns a plethora of merchandise”. The Straits Times. March 16, 2017. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  37. “You’re invited”. The Straits Times. November 2, 2012. Accessed 19 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  38. Lim, Serene. “Finders Keepers”. Today. August 16, 2014. Accessed 19 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  39. “Craft and design fest that’s a Keeper”. The Business Times. August 22, 2014. Accessed 19 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  40. Lim, Serene. “Finders Keepers”. Today. August 16, 2014. Accessed 19 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  41. “Homegrown designers gain recognition in retail scene”. Channel News Asia. April 9, 2015. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  42. “The new pop-up store will feature items from 11 local designers”. Today. July 17, 2015. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  43. Singh, Bryna. “Design collective Keepers finds home at National Design Centre”. The Straits Times. May 26, 2016. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  44. “Carrie K receives multiple honours at Singapore Fashion Awards 2017”. The Straits Times. November 24, 2017. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  45. “Carrie K”. LinkedIn. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from LinkedIn.
  46. “Singapore Tourism Awards 2016”. Singapore Tourism Board. October 5, 2016. Accessed 24 September 2019. Retrieved from singaporetourismawards.com.
  47. "Showcasing S’pore fashion design globally”. The Business Times. November 23, 2013. Accessed 16 September 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.