Nelson Yap (Singapore Entrepreneur)

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Nelson Yap
BB Nelson Yap.jpg
EducationBachelor of Creative Arts
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne
Spouse(s)Dawn Hu (m. 2010)

Nelson Yap (born 1982) is the founder and chief executive officer of the homegrown menswear brand, Benjamin Barker.[1] Having started the business in 2009, Nelson Yap has been recognised as one of the pioneers for affordable men’s fashion in Singapore.[2] Besides managing Benjamin Barker, he is also the managing director of The Assembly Ground, a café that accompanies The Assembly Store which he opened in 2014.[3] In 2016, Nelson Yap represented the brand when Benjamin Barker won top honours at the Emerging Enterprise Awards.[4]

Nelson Yap pictured in one of his Benjamin Barker stores. Photo from source.


Nelson Yap was an aspiring film-maker before he became a professional entrepreneur. He shared the following about his journey at a TEDxYouth@Singapore event:

"Sometimes, our dreams may get interrupted. Life doesn't always turn out as we expect... When I went there (Australia), I found my dream and I was pretty good at it. My teacher actually offered me a job to teach at the university after I graduated... But all this changed with one phone call. I found out that my dad was diagnosed with the final stage of cancer."[5]

Personal life & family

Nelson Yap is the middle child of three siblings.[1] After completing his tertiary education in Australia, he returned to Singapore to run his family's discount suit business upon learning about his father's deteriorating health.[6] Nelson Yap is married to Dawn Hu, whom he met at a Christian fellowship when they were both university students in Melbourne, Australia. They have three daughters together.[1][7]


Nelson Yap completed his primary and secondary school education at Anglo Chinese School (ACS).[8] From 2002 to 2005, he studied cinematography and film production at the University of Melbourne and graduated with a Bachelor of Creative Arts.[9][10] According to his LinkedIn profile, Nelson Yap also completed a Master’s program in business information technology (IT) at RMIT University in Melbourne and an executive program in entrepreneurial business from the London Business School.[8]


Founder of Benjamin Barker

Nelson Yap pictured with some of the apparel retailing at his stores. Photo from source.

Nelson Yap decided to start his own fashion and retail brand after two years of running his family’s discount suit business. In a 2016 interview with fashion and lifestyle website Buro 24/7, he said:

“I realised I just couldn't make that (the family business) work. It was very hard to change anything within the company and so, I talked to my mum about starting my own label, and doing things the way I wanted to.”[2]

Nelson Yap established Benjamin Barker in 2009 with the vision to provide quality and stylish menswear that is also affordable. That same year, he opened Benjamin Barker’s first brick and mortar store in a 62-square-metre retail space in Marina Square.[9][11] Speaking about the early days of Benjamin Barker, Nelson Yap said:

"When we started off it was very tough because when we wanted to get into malls, there was a lot of hesitation... We pumped back everything into our next store. But we didn’t grow because we wanted to have more stores, we grew because we identified that there’s a bigger market."[12]

Business growth

In September 2018, Benjamin Barker opened its flagship store and café at Cathay Cineleisure.[13] Launched concurrently with the flagship store was ‘Red Label’, the company’s first womenswear line of suits and bespoke clothing.[14] In May 2020, DesignSingapore Council reported that Benjamin Barker made close to $15 million in the 2019 financial year; a twenty percent increase from 2018.[15] As of December 2020, Benjamin Barker has 12 outlets across Singapore.[16]

Co-founder of The Assembly Store & The Assembly Ground

In May 2014, Nelson Yap and then-general manager Damien Tan opened multi-label retail space The Assembly Store and its accompanying café The Assembly Ground at The Cathay.[17][18] Speaking to The Business Times in a 2016 interview about his decision to open the cafe, Nelson said:

"It's an extension of who we are. The cafe was a very natural choice for me, because my passion is in coffee - I worked as a barista in Melbourne, and I fell in love with the coffee culture there. Damien is the food guy; he spent time in Naples making pizza."[9]

References/ Citations

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Woo, Alyssa. “The Life Interview with Benjamin Barker's Nelson Yap: Making it in menswear”. The Straits Times. June 5, 2017. Accessed on 17 December 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Russell, Edward. “Benjamin Barker: Founder Nelson Yap shares the secrets of his success with his tailoring and suiting business”. Buro 24/7 Singapore. August 11, 2016. Accessed on 17 December 2020.
  3. Yip, May. "The serial entrepreneur". Business Times. May 23, 2015. Accessed on 28 December 2020.
  4. Yeo, Renald. "Women behind EE winner’s success". The Business Times. September 19, 2016. Accessed on 28 December 2020.
  5. TEDx Talks. "Dreams, Interrupted | Nelson Yap | TEDxYouth@Singapore". YouTube. October 28, 2019. Accessed on 28 December 2020.
  6. Foo, Charmaine. "Tailored For Purpose". SELAH. May 20, 2019. Accessed on 28 December 2020.
  7. Ang, Jovita. "FATHER’S DAY FEATURE: NO TOUGHER BUSINESS III". Gryphon Tea Company. June 19, 2016. Accessed on 28 December 2020.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Nelson Yap. LinkedIn. n.d. Accessed on 17 December 2020. Retrieved from:
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Yeo, Renald. “Leap of faith leads to Benjamin Barker menswear label”. The Business Times. August 26, 2016. Accessed 21 December 2020.
  10. Teh Shi Ning. "Going beyond sharp suits". Business Times. August 27, 2019. Accessed on 28 December 2020.
  11. "Benjamin Barker". IPOS International. May 7, 2020. Accessed on 28 December 2020.
  12. Asri Jasman. "WANT TO SUCCEED IN FASHION? NELSON YAP SHARES SOME POINTERS". Augustman. July 27, 2015. Accessed on 28 December 2020.
  13. Chua, Christine. “Benjamin Barker new flagship store and café: New summer clothing lines to expect for both men AND women, and what food to expect”. AVENUE ONE. September 7, 2018. Accessed on 21 December 2020.
  14. Ladies, It’s Time to Get Suited Up at Benjamin Barker”. Luxe Society. September 3, 2018. Accessed on 21 December 2020.
  15. Design thinking helped menswear label Benjamin Barker deliver excellent customer service, contributing to record sales in 2019”. DesignSingapore Council. May 11, 2020. Accessed on 21 December 2020.
  16. Locations”. Benjamin Barker. n.d. Accessed on 21 December 2020.
  17. Benjamin Barker. "24hrs till the opening of our 4000sqft store at The Cathay!". Facebook. April 30, 2014. Accessed on 28 December 2020.
  18. Yap, Melody. "THE ASSEMBLY GROUND AT THE CATHAY SINGAPORE". ladyironchef. December 26, 2014. Accessed on 28 December 2020.