No feet of clay for granddaughter in pottery business
On her own accord, Miss Stella Tan, 26, returned to Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle at a time when the future was uncertain for the family business.
Set up by her grandfather in 1965, it was supposed to move out of its premises off Jalan Bahar in January 2013.
The lease was extended - first for two years until 2015, then for a three-year term that can be renewed twice.
Miss Tan, whose uncle runs Thow Kwang now, told TNP: "The second generation had been fighting to preserve the dragon kiln and pottery jungle. The future was uncertain for them."
After working in a pastry kitchen, then a cake customisation business with a friend, and finally in administration, Miss Tan initially returned to Thow Kwang to see how she could help.
It turned out to be a homecoming of sorts.
"Growing up here, I've seen a lot. My uncles, aunts and parents spent most of their days working and expanding the business, and went through the good and bad days together.
"When I was young, my uncle would educate us on the hard work my grandparents had put in to sustain this business. I was browsing through photos of the old days and yes, I realised how fortunate I am to be here," she said.
As studio manager, she learnt the ropes from her aunt, from packing the kiln to glazing pots.
As the only third-generation member in the business, she breathed life into what used to be seen as old-fashioned.
First, she created an online presence for the business by regularly updating its Facebook page and Instagram.
Then, she started hawking her ceramic wares at art markets to create awareness about Thow Kwang's workshops.
Her crafts proved to be a hit and over time, drew more people to the pottery jungle. Today, Thow Kwang has over 6,000 likes on Facebook, up from the initial hundred-odd.
She used to worry about what will happen once the novelty of pottery wears off, but after a few years of fretting, Miss Tan thought it was best to let go.
"Being the first third-generation, it is stressful to start something new as I am afraid to fail. But full support from the family pushes me to achieve what I think works for the business," she said.
"I believe in doing the right thing, and nothing will go wrong."
As for who will eventually take over the business, Miss Tan said this topic was brought up only once when she was still a polytechnic student.
Adding that she is not ready to talk about it now with her family, she would only say: "Maybe when the time is right."