Singapore Stories: Verene Ng, RISIS

Photos courtesy of RISIS
08 Aug 2022

Clever products, sleek branding, and deep pockets aside, the secret to becoming a great Singapore brand is perhaps through collaboration, reveals Verene Ng, CEO of RISIS Private Limited.

When the phrase “Singaporean brand” is mentioned, what comes to mind? What kind of weight does the “Made in Singapore” distinction carry?
A “Singaporean brand” may mean different things to different people. For me, being authentic is what it takes to be a true Singaporean brand. RISIS takes pride in delivering a unique product to the world, since it was established in 1976. This is also our brand ethos in designing unique pieces of jewellery and artefacts. The Singapore identity comes down to the beauty of our nature and the diversity and richness of our culture that cannot be found anywhere else. These qualities are the key things that set a Singaporean brand apart from the rest.

RISIS has been around for over four decades. What is your earliest memory of it?
For RISIS, the key differentiator lies in the combination of science and artistry. When I first found out about the brand years ago, I was amazed by the story of the Singaporean scientist who discovered a unique method of immortalizing nature by encapsulating it in 24K gold as a token of his love. This love laid the foundations upon which RISIS has established itself as 'Singapore's gift to the world'.

How did you feel when you took over as CEO? Can you tell us about what was going through your head?
It was a very refreshing experience for me as I came over from a different industry. Formerly, I was the Senior Vice President of Envipure Pte Ltd and I played a pivotal role in managing its strategic direction. When I first took over as CEO during the pandemic, I was excited to embark on a new journey to further expand on the RISIS legacy and lead the brand through its transformation into a new direction.

My love for unique luxury fashion pieces also helped me assimilate into the business quickly. Also, as an aspiring gardening enthusiast, building a brand that revolves around nature fit like a glove for me. Merging nature with luxury has been a very explorative concept because it circles around both of my interests, paving the way for new meaning and bringing RISIS’ new brand identity to life.

Not a lot of homegrown brands enjoy the kind of longevity, success, and brand loyalty RISIS does, especially when e-commerce is now the norm. Can you walk us through how you’re steering the ship to ensure the brand stays relevant and exciting?
RISIS has made a name for itself with the Iconic Orchids collection, having pioneered the technique of encasing natural flora in 24k gold and turning them into collectible jewellery, sculptures, and lifestyle artefacts.

While Singapore has established itself as a regional tourism hub for many decades,

RISIS became Singapore’s gift to the world – a go-to brand for consumers who want quality and intricately designed mementos that allow them to bring back a piece of Singapore.

When Covid hit, my team and I took the opportunity to refresh the RISIS brand, deepened our expertise, and shifted our efforts towards e-commerce. We also created fashionable, sophisticated, imaginative jewellery and collectible objects that resonates with today’s clientele.

As we celebrate our new journey, we continue to stay true to our mission of celebrating the nature and culture. To start this new direction, RISIS launched our first seasonal collection this year, in partnership with local designers, to immortalize real blooms into sophisticated embellishments made by Singaporeans for Singaporeans and the world.

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Iconic Vanda Miss Joaquim Orchid Collection by RISIS x Stolen

Can you share more about the four new capsule collections under the iconic Orchid series? Through the collaboration under the Iconic Orchid series, RISIS created a synergy between local talents and their art of craft. Together, we broadened our perspectives and even explored new techniques to create innovative, multi-functional jewellery pieces.

This collaboration not only opened doors for some of these designers, allowing them to dabble in the artistry of jewellery design, it also allowed us to explore new possibilities with new materials. For example, when Sylvia Lim, designer, and founder of Triologie, known for her quirky colorful prints, wanted to create a five petaled base out of fabric for her Kerongsong, it led us to experiment with the possibility of working with new fabric prints and colors for our jewellery.

Another example is designer Lai Chan, wo believes that style and fashion reflects the character of a culture and country. The collection was inspired by his childhood memory of beautiful latticework of orchids blooming in his home garden. As it was a perfect fit with what we do, we worked together in translating that beauty into an exquisite collection that infuses culture and nature into everyday styles.

What does the RISIS customer look for in the brand now? How do they differ from the loyal clients you’ve had over the decades?
RISIS is revitalizing our iconic collections with contemporary women in mind. We recognize their need for self-expression and desire for multi-functional pieces that manifest their personality and emotions every time they put the pieces on. This new group of customers are also concerned about how the pieces are made, as they understand the impact of consumerism to the environment. To address their concern, we engage in long term environmental practices that ensure the well-being of our customers and employees. We have also recently updated the packaging for our jewellery, making sure to use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper for our paper bags.

The evolving fashion scene has prompted us to go back to the drawing board and redefine our market, comprised of modern working women in Singapore and beyond. With that in mind, we created contemporary designs to meet their needs and lifestyle. We also found that today’s consumers are sophisticated about design and consciously make choices that reflect their personal style preferences, lifestyles, and beliefs. They also look into the story of the brand for more conscious, meaningful purchases.

Creating anticipation for new collections is also a vital approach. Creating a calendar for new launches was part of the allure of shopping for jewellery pieces and these are some of the factors that we considered when charting our new approach. 

But one thing that’s similar between our existing clients and modern customers would be their common love towards products with nature-inspired designs and their fascination towards the idea of owning unique pieces that are immortalised from real blooms.

RISIS Iconic Orchids Collection

What’s in the pipeline for the next few years? What are you most excited about?
We will continue to develop RISIS’ brand proposition, aligning it with the fashion seasons for it to become relevant and compelling for today’s customer. I’m also looking forward to curating more inspiring creations that immortalise Nature and Asian Culture, with collections that are young and stylish.

We also aim to harness collaborations with creative talents in different style industries. This will see continuous experimentation and exploration to express and re-invent collaborations that can augment and expand this experience with Nature and the Culture of Asia. Grounded with local trade support, RISIS is also ready to embark on expanding its online store’s marketing outreach to overseas markets.

For those who want to establish the next iconic Singaporean brand, what advice do you have?
As an iconic Singaporean brand ourselves, I understand the significance of collaboration and the importance of celebrating local talent, especially with the emergence of new platforms.

I strongly encourage Singaporean brands to work closer together because collaboration has offered the opportunity for both brands to explore previously uncharted territories. Just like the RISIS Iconic Orchids Capsule collection, we take pride in the fact that beautiful pieces of wearable art, heritage, and culture will speak to contemporary women and hold its charm for future generations.