Friday, September 17, 2010

Mandarin Oranges for Our Elderly from Appreciative Customers

Handmade 'mandarin oranges' from appreciative customers,
Mimi and Tony, for Mdm Ong.
Early this month, we were deeply touched when we received these 'mandarin oranges' from a middle-aged couple, Mimi and Tony, which Mimi had specially made for Mdm Ong, one of our elderly who make the patchwork blankets that we sell. They had bought a patchwork blanket from us before and were full of praise for Mdm Ong's effort.

You can see from the pictures that much care and love had gone into making these items. Such a warm-hearted and loving couple they were.

This is not the only time we've been pleasantly surprised by an appreciative customer. Every now and then, someone would say some words of encouragement to us for our social enterprise or offer to give us fabric remnants for our patchwork or tell us to convey a message of thanks or praise for our elderly and so on.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Our First Company Cheque

We recently signed up for DBS Bank's special corporate account package for social enterprises because of its many attractive features meant to help the social enterprise start-up. With it comes a cheque book bearing our company name. How appropriate therefore that as a social enterprise, our first company cheque should be a donation to MINDS (Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore. Check out

It's the third year in a row that we have made a contribution to MINDS through our involvement with the NTU Welfare Services Club's public awareness event. The Club never failed to impress us with their tremendous efforts which included an exhibition and a string of performances by members of MINDS and talented undergraduates. It's therefore not a surprise to find that the Club has won a number of prestigious awards, including the President's Award, for their voluntary welfare work. (Read more at

Our first year with NTU Welfare Services Club's public event for MINDS ~ Project-IDentity held at Junction 8 in 2008. This annual day-long event is always well-organised with an exhibition, entertaining performances by MINDS members and talented undergraduates, and a mini-bazaar featuring socially meaningful products of which we have been a part of in the last three years. For such a well-organised event, it is a pity that not more members of the public are aware of it.

We've also been fortunate to be able to contribute in other small ways. Our Beanie Bears, hand-crocheted by a mother-and-daughter team and other crafters, are our flag bearers for our "Beanie Bear Fund" in which part of the sales proceeds are put aside to help the elderly poor.

In one year, we bought quarker oats for some 30 elderly people staying in the Chin Swee area. In another year, we sponsored some 400 fashion rings as free gifts for an elderly event.

Our Love Bear, hand-crocheted by coconut plantation workers, is another bear with a big heart. Part of the sales money is put aside for our "Love Gift Fund" to help individuals in need.

Every now and then, there'll be student groups coming to us for our socially meaningful products for their school projects. We know that it's not easy for them to get companies to supply products for their projects since there's very little monetary returns to attract the profit-driven companies. Hence, we've always agreed to help in the spirit of social enterprise.

And we're happy that so far the students have done well with our products. Last July, CHIJ Katong Convent won the silver medal for the "Most Attractive Display Award" at the National Youth Business Challenge 2010 involving many schools nationwide.

We hope this is not sounding like we're blowing our own trumpets. We like nothing more than to be doing our things quietly and away from the spotlight as we're in this not for fame or fortune but because we find meaning and enjoyment in what we do.

Many people do their part in their own ways without ever telling people about them. But as we carry the label of social enterprise publicly, and customers do support us partly because of the social factor, we owe it to them to let them know what we do on the social front. We should add that whatever contributions we make to charity, the money comes from our own sales revenue and is never solicited from customers. Our products are never marked up for charity purpose. In fact they are marked down to make them more affordable.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Multiplier Effects of Our Elderly Enterprise

When we started our Elderly Enterprise, we were simply trying to promote patchwork blankets made by the elderly. We soon started buying the fabrics for the elderly to save them the trouble and expenses of getting the fabrics themselves.

As the demand for our patchwork blankets grew, it became obvious that there were multiplier effects – we were not just generating income for the elderly who make the patchwork, we were also generating business for the small fabric shops that we buy our fabrics from. As a social enterprise, we naturally make it a point to give our business to those who need it more.

We’re happy to highlight the three fabric shops at Blk 335, Smith Street, Chinatown, which we frequently get our fabrics from. You might want to get your fabrics from them too as their prices are very reasonable which help us keep the cost of our patchwork blankets down:

Lau Jin Xiu Dept Store, #01-042: This small but well-stocked fabric shop is run by energetic elder sister Zhen or Zhen Jie as we call her in Chinese, assisted by her husband. She’s one tough lady, practically handling everything herself while having a dependent mother to care for too. We get most of our fabrics from her.

Xing Long Textiles, #01-266: You’ll find the elderly Mr and Mrs Chong quite adorable. She is feisty and assertive while he is always jovial and good-natured. They do not have to work, but like many elderly used to hard work, they just can’t entertain the thought of taking life easy and not doing anything.
Yung Lai Dept Store, #01-263: This business has span three generations. Mdm Chung, in her 70s, took over the business from her parents when she was in her 20s. The store is now managed by her son, Mr Wong, who has a disability in his left arm. We try to make it a point to buy some of our fabrics from them.

Enjoy a hearty lunch at the hawker centre while you're there

Blk 335 Smith St (yes, that's what this centre is simply called and not by a fancy name like "Smith Street Hub" or something, reflecting the down-to-earth life there) has a wet market at the basement and a thriving hawker centre on the second level.

When we're there to buy fabric, we often join the queue of elderly and office workers at this stall to get our lunch. For just over or under $3, you get a well-balanced meal that tastes "home-cooked" with a bowl of nicely brewed soup for FREE!!! You'll see a middle-aged lady and her husband and daughter running the stall. It all seems like they were running this food business specially to provide the elderly and those from the lower income a good and cheap meal.

Don't miss this stall. Go before 12pm as the queue builds up quickly and the dishes get sold out fast.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Remembering Mum + Elderly Enterprise

It was three years ago this day that my mum passed away. It was the saddest day of my life, but it was also what I had wished for from the time my mum became bed-ridden and had to be fed through a tube. That morning was, thankfully, the last time I had to feed my mum that way, for she died while I was giving her her medication.

I will forever miss my mum. Who wouldn't? My mum was the best mum anyone could ever wished for. Enduring extreme poverty and hardship, she single-handedly brought up all eleven of us without expecting anything for herself. She lived for her children, and our well-being was her joy. Such was the extent of her love and devotion.

"It broke our hearts to lose you mum, But you did not go alone
For part of us went with you, The day God took you home;
If roses grow in Heaven, Lord please pick a bunch for us
Place them in our mother’s arms, And tell her they’re from us;
Tell her we love her and miss her, And when she turns to smile
Place a kiss upon her cheek, And hold her for awhile;
We don’t think mum’s gone away, Her journey’s just begun
Life holds so many facets, This Earth is only one;
We know our mum lives on, In the hearts of those she touched
For nothing loved is ever lost, And she is loved so very much."

~ Personal by George

A tribute to Mothers, Grandmothers and our Elderly

We sometimes looked back and wished we had appreciated more the things our mothers or grandmothers made for us when we were young -- things like patchwork blankets and beans sprout husks pillows. When these things were common, they tended to be taken for granted.

Tablemat for putting hot pot
or flower vase.

Beans sprout husks pillow
for newborn.

Fortunately, Jon, through his work with hundreds of elderly, found that some of them were still making things like patchwork blankets and floormats. Naturally, we decided to champion the talents of the elderly and the things they were good at making. And that was how TeddyThotz's ELDERLY ENTERPRISE was born

Starting with patchwork blankets made by Mdm Ong, who is in her 80's, we now have a good range of things made by some 10 elderly persons, each with their own unique skills.
Mdm Ong spends her morning taking part in social recreational activities
at the Lion's centre below her flat. In the afternoon, she'll make her
patchwork to pass the time.
Patchwork blanket by Mdm Ong.
Just for the patchwork blankets alone, for example, we have them in different styles made by different elderly. We dare say we probably have the widest selection of patchwork blankets in Singapore.

Most Rewarding Part

The most rewarding part of our ELDERLY ENTERPRISE is knowing that the elderly are happy that the things they make are appreciated and in demand, and that they get to earn some money for their efforts.

It is also heartwarming to see people, young and old, stopping to admire, touch and feel the patchwork blankets or beans sprout husks pillows on display, with many of them telling us about their memories of the things their mother or grandmother had made for them when they were young.

Patchwork blanket by
90-plus granny.
We couldn't have asked for more from our ELDERLY ENTEPRISE. It has not only benefitted the elderly involved, it has also made available traditional items that bring back fond memories and that customers can buy and cherish once more.

~ For more info on our Elderly Enterprise products and where to view or buy them, visit