Buying Local Souvenirs? Check Out These Buzzy Homegrown Brands
As much as I love going overseas to visit family and friends – and as much as I enjoy hosting them when they visit me – there’s one errand that truly drives me up the wall: buying them local souvenirs.
While some brands like TWG, Bengawan Solo and nowadays, Bacha Coffee, are staple crowd-pleasers, I often struggle to find non-food items that aren’t Merlion-shaped or adorned with the usual Singapore Airlines batik print. Most of the time, I leave it ‘til the last minute when I’m at the airport…and only recently did it occur to me to check the Made With Passion list of brands.
What is Made With Passion? You’ve probably seen the logo here and there, but in short, it’s a joint initiative by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Enterprise Singapore (EnterpriseSG) to provide opportunities for domestic and international consumers to discover and appreciate our local brands. Along with bearing the Made With Passion logo, these brands have received additional exposure in local events, in lifestyle malls like Design Orchard, and on e-commerce sites like KrisShop. They’ve also recently been given a boost overseas in global consumer showcases and even European food fairs. Just this week, 58 more brands were added to the Made With Passion initiative, bringing the total number of brands to 150.
Anyway, back to the list. I promise this isn’t sponsored by STB, but the list is genuinely helpful in that it provides a roundup of homegrown brands in various lifestyle categories, along with a short paragraph of information about said brand, as well as a link to where you can purchase it.
Here are some of the newly-included brands, as well as who they’d be perfect for if you’re souvenir-hunting:
As someone who has received a good number of items from Hush as gifts, I’m not only thrilled that they’ve made it onto the list, but I can vouch for these as great (and affordable!) souvenirs for that aromatherapy-loving friend.
Buy for: That person who regularly partakes in self-care.
Start with: The gift bundles ($45), which come with a room spray, a candle, a hand sanitiser, and a drawstring pouch.
There’s something about traditional prints that enlivens just about any space, which is why we’re drooling over Photo Phactory’s array of homeware. Think Peranakan motifs, shophouse-inspired designs, and a collection of trays inspired by artistic sketches of Chinatown and our hawker centres.
Buy for: That friend who wouldn’t be caught dead using cork coasters and plastic placemats.
Start with: These cheerful coaster sets would go great with one's morning coffee.
By now you’re probably wondering what actually makes a good souvenir. Three things I’ve learnt over the years: a good souvenir is charming, useful, and travels well. Bonus points if it doesn’t collect dust (I’m looking at you, novelty shot glasses). If you’re looking to impress, pick up a silk scarf from Binary Style, whose designs feature Singapore’s heritage districts, nature, culture, and history.
Buy for: That overseas-based family member who spends her weekends at high tea with her Golden Girls.
Start with: Scarves come in an array of materials (including silk, cotton, and chiffon), so just choose one in the recipient’s favourite colours.
There’s nothing like a quirky pair of socks to jazz up some basic workwear. The minute we spotted Talking Toes’ Singapore Collection, inspired by chilli crab, durian and the Good Morning towels, amongst other local icons, we knew we had to stock up on a few pairs for souvenirs.
Buy for: That super "onz" guest who was down to try all manner of hawker eats (and durian!) without complaint.
Start with: A pair of local breakfast-inspired socks to remind that person of all the delicious meals you shared together.
You know who loves souvenirs, no matter how cheesy they are? KIDS. Thankfully, The Elly Store offers some options that both children and their parents will appreciate. We just love how these prints pay homage to Singapore’s landmarks without looking too much like souvenir clothing items.
Buy for: That friend or family member whose kiddos dress better than you do.
Start with: The Elly Store’s bestselling Mickey Go Local collection intersperses Singapore’s tourist spots with the beloved Disney icon.
I used to think truffle chips were basic - and then I tried Aroma Truffle’s Black Summer Truffle potato chips. Every bite felt like 75% truffle, and 25% chip. Perfect for foodies who appreciate pungent scents and strong flavours!
Buy for: Guests who are staying in your home. Stock up your pantry with a few bags of these and we can guarantee they’ll be gone within a day.
Start with: The Black Summer Truffle potato chips in the Original flavour are a hit at parties, but if you’d like to get something with more Singaporean vibes, try the Fiery Mala ones. Alternatively, the Black Summer Truffle Butter will pack a wallop of flavour in one’s morning croissant.
See the full list of Made With Passion brands here