nasyitah tan the looms workshop social enterprise singapore
Catch Nasyitah Tan, our featured Eco-Warrior in conversation with Secondsguru

Creating bespoke handcrafted products for clients by repurposing and recycling materials; very few enterprises manage to blend in sustainability and design the way The LOOMs Workshop does. And if that wasn’t enough ‘doing good’, their mission is “to provide education and employment opportunities that will empower women and enable their families.”

We asked Nasyitah Tan, the bright and cheerful founder of The LOOMs Workshop (TLW) to share the story with us and she very readily obliged. Here’s getting to know all the Five Ws & Two Hows (ok, maybe a bit more than just 5!) of this social enterprise.

Secondsguru | WHAT is The LOOMs Workshop all about?

Nasyitah | We believe that art has the ability to transform lives and education enables positive change – this is what drives all the work that we do at TLW.

Our philosophy aptly encompasses all that we work for,

  • Everyone has talent and potential that needs time and space to be uncovered and grow.
  • Every woman has the right to access art and beauty.
  • We are an inclusive community and welcome women of all ages, races, religion and society to join us.
  • We preserve and nurture the dignity of one another.
  • We believe in fairness to all: Company, Ourselves, our Clients, our Supplies and Services Partners, our Stakeholders
  • We create well-designed quality products that last
  • We advocate mindful consumption

We create and sell artisanal fashion products and homewares as well as conduct creative workshops to support our educational programmes and employment for women initiatives.

Secondsguru | WHEN and WHY did you start TLW?

Nasyitah | TLW is a social enterprise registered with raiSE since September 2014.

It was a passion project to remember the tradition and craftsmanship of my late mum and many other home-based seamstresses. I worked with single mothers, thinking I was empowering them. Hindsight taught me the women who are successful with LOOMs are already self-empowered. We provide a platform and safe space for them to re-imagine and rebuild themselves.  

Work-in-progress: Hand crafted designs created by Nasyitah and team
Work-in-progress: Handcrafted designs created by Nasyitah and team

Secondsguru | HOW has the journey been so far?

Nasyitah| Today, we run a systematic two-step Work Trial Training programme to ensure success for every woman who joins us. LOOMs is now 12-women strong community looking to grow. We continue to train and recruit from our base, the centrally-located LOOMs Studio. We also welcome like-minded women who see themselves contributing in different roles, who volunteer their expertise to grow the company and community. The studio is also where old designs are refreshed and new products are developed, materials are playfully experimented with and new techniques innovated.  

Secondsguru | WHERE does sustainability fit into all of this?

Nasyitah | At LOOMs, sustainability has always been a way of life even before we started creating the eco-inspired products we have in our range now.

Empty milk bottles are repurposed into waste containers and are a part of product display. A broken wooden rack has found a new lease of life as a thread holder. Hand-painted felt off-cuts, too precious to be thrown, are packed into boxes according to colour for a second lease of life. Rescued textiles sit patiently before being turned into products. Even threads are saved for a project; we do not know what yet. Infact the core philosophy of TLW, that of empowering our beneficiaries is to create sustainable livelihoods for them.

Nevertheless, we are not perfect nor claim to be eco warriors. We merely seek balance and mindfulness in the way we consume in an overly-resourced first world country.

We are merely working towards building a world we want for our children and generations to come.

repurpose and reuse a way of life at the looms workshop
Once a wooden rack, now a thread holder-repurposing and reusing

Secondsguru | WAS environmental concern always a part of TLW’s philosophy?

Nasyitah | As a social enterprise, we are concerned with both financial returns as well as the social impact created. A third, and lesser subscribed, environmental bottom-line has always been very close to our hearts. It is important to us that we employ tools, techniques and materials that leave minimal carbon footprints. I do believe that a circular economy is the way to go and I am constantly encouraging the team to be creatively zero-waste in product development.

This focus led me to the famed Central Saint Martins and inspired LOOMs Eco Line of products. The collection of straw pouches, earpiece pouches and card cases featuring painted felt off-cuts, rescued leather and upcycled bubble wrap. Working on this collection is very exciting for us as every piece yields surprise and beauty. At the moment all our creations are for specific clients and commissioned projects, however, we are developing a retail platform soon!

upcycled straw pouches
Straw pouches designed and created in house using scrap material and rescued leather

Secondsguru | WHO are some of your clients that share your sustainability philosophy?

Nasyitah | For World Environment Day 2018, we created a stylish reversible tote bag for home grown Charles and Keith using 85% upcycled materials. We used felt cut offs and rescued bubble wrap for the straps, repurposed CHARLES & KEITH banners and Project Spring surplus uniform shirts donated by Bove By Spring Maternity for the body of the tote bag and created and abstract coral block print to highlight the issue of disappearing coral reefs. Take a look at the behind the scenes in creating this unique tote bag.

We have been working with our corporate partners DDB to give National Day Banners a new lease of life by creating something fashionable and memorable out of them.

You can see all our sustainable products on our product page here.

A collaboration between Charles and Keith and The Looms Workshop- made using 85% upcycled material
A collaboration between Charles and Keith and The LOOMs Workshop- made using 85% upcycled material

Secondsguru | WHAT about your workshops – Are they all eco friendly too?

Nasyitah | We design our workshops depending on what our clients’ needs are. We want to give them a holistic experience of art and design as well as allow them to unleash their inner creativity.

Having said that, many of our regular workshops are eco based be it Eco Textile workshop or the Repurpose, Reuse and Recycle Workshops. You can see a list of all our workshops here.

If you’d like us to customise one for you and your team, please drop us an email at nasyitah@theloomsworkshops.com

Secondsguru | WHO are the LOOMs Artisans?

Nasyitah | The women who join our family have the right attitude, an artistic flair and a burning desire to bring about change in their lives. These women are willing to face challenges and work very hard to earn a better life for their families and themselves. More importantly, we are a community of women who support one another in their journey towards empowerment.

The Looms Workshop empowering women singapore artisan craft
The LOOMs Workshop team-Spreading smiles with their creations

Secondsguru | WHERE do you see LOOMs in the future?

Nasyitah | Our vision for The LOOMs Workshop is “A community of socially and financially empowered women providing beautiful and socially responsible goods and services, creating a cycle of success.” It is a good sign that it is becoming fashionable to be environmentally conscious in whatever one does and we’re glad that social organisations like The LOOMs Workshop are literally making it a fashion statement!

Secondsguru | HOW can people BUY the awesome stuff you are creating?

Nasyitah | For the moment, they can come to the workshop by appointment to buy what we have created. Drop us an email to nasyitah@theloomsworkshops.com in order to fix a time. Alternatively, find us at the next pop up showcasing social enterprises/small businesses in Singapore. Just follow The Looms Workshop on Facebook to stay updated on developments from our end! [Psst- An online store is in the working]

For us here at Secondsguru, upcycling and sustainable fashion is definitely the way forward. And it’s time every individual chose to be conscious in the fashion decisions. Let’s do our bit and Be (a) #partoftheloomsgood.

A wide range of products at created by the looms workshop Singapore
A wide range of products are designed and created by The LOOMs Workshop in Singapore

Want to know few more Eco-Warriors in Singapore, check the following posts on Secondsguru?

Raye Padit| Shop less, Swap more at the Fashion Pulpit

Mike Broadhead| The one who brought EarthFest to Singapore

Agatha Lee| A textile expert teaches us how to restyle our wardrobe

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