In the age of fast fashion, hand-sewn clothing carries the weight and legacy of the generations before us.
With Uniqlo dressing people the world over, one Singaporean family is working to bring back hand-sewn fashion through love and pop-ups, one headband at a time.
“Mama Yeo & Co. officially started in mid-2017, but we started taking this business more seriously in mid-2018,” said Yeo Zhiyi, the youngest member of the family business.
“My mother has always sewn gifts for our family friends — headbands, bags, even baby clothing! She even gifts her handmade products to people she barely knows,” said Zhiyi.
“Mama Yeo’s legacy is her generosity, and sewing is her way of showing her appreciation to the people she loves. People started telling us that we should actually consider selling these products to the public, and so that kickstarted our little homegrown business!”
While Mama Yeo sews, the 22-year-old undergraduate handles pop-up opportunities and bargains with fabric stores. Her elder sister, Yeo Taiyi, designs store layouts and colour schemes as the “creative eye” of brand.
“Mama Yeo is the heart of the brand. She handles the sewing, easily talks to customers and invite them over to our house for gatherings,” shared Zhiyi. “Papa Yeo is our banker. He handles the finances, but you’ll also find him at our pop-ups with headbands and bags draped over his arms.”
Before a pop-up event, Zhiyi scouts for fabrics, selecting them according to the expected clientele. Mama Yeo starts work a fortnight before the event, sewing a new batch of headbands and bags with the most “popular” evergreen fabrics.
While all hands are on deck at Mama Yeo & Co., Zhiyi maintains that it’s not about the money.
“Mama Yeo & Co. is a meaningful way for us to gather as a family and spend quality time with one another. We don’t see this as a way to earn money but we hope to grow closer as a family and meet people through this business.”
“Nothing means more to us than being able to spread God’s love to the people we cross paths with.”
With prices starting from S$8, the headbands are the most popular item. Other popular favourites include the cheongsam, which Mama Yeo & Co. market more actively before Chinese New Year.
With fabrics and silhouettes that are heavily inspired by traditional wear, Mama Yeo & Co. is a local player in the rise of modest fashion.
“The modest fashion trend making a comeback is a beautiful thing to witness,” said Zhiyi. “Too often, we feel pressured to dress less, or to dress up a certain way to feel validated. The modest fashion trend perpetuates the ideal that one is beautiful without having to show much skin.”
Mama Yeo sometimes even sews hemlines just a few inches longer than requested, said Zhiyi.
“In my mind, a Mama Yeo & Co. customer is someone who lives joyfully and confidently. By choosing the kind of fabric you love and the colours that represent you, and by wearing our products with pride, we hope that you are able to view yourself as a beautiful creation!”
Mama Yeo & Co. will be setting up shop at ARTas 2019, the free annual art festival for young people, happening Jul 6 from 1pm to 6pm at 88 St Francis Road.
Header image: Instagram | Mama Yeo & Co.