What happens when you team two Singapore mums who have a passion for interior design, flowers, Instagram and building communities? You get The Assembly Hall – a new project that brings adults together to learn new skills at fun, creative workshops. We’ve been following The Assembly Hall’s founders, the talented Charlie Cameron and her blog Lottie is Loving (she’s a HoneyKids contributor too!), and her business partner Kate Gallagher of Floweret Co, an online, Instagram-driven flower delivery service, for a while now. So when we heard they were teaming up, we were a tiny bit excited. Okay, VERY excited!
We sat down with Charlie and Kate to get them to spill the beans on The Assembly Hall and what they love about Singapore…
Tell us about The Assembly Hall – where did this idea come from?
The idea for The Assembly Hall was born out of our own experiences of establishing Floweret Co and Lottie is Loving, coupled with the regular enquiries we both received in these businesses from people wanting to know how to set up their homes, style with flowers or position their business across social media.
Setting up a business (or even setting up a home) can be a lonely experience and we wanted to create a community where we could share information and pass on the skills that we and other professionals have learned to help others fulfil their creative potential.
We love your motto #communityovercompetition – tell us about it!
#communityovercompetition speaks to the idea that by sharing what we know and creating a community of people prepared to pass on their knowledge and skills, we all benefit. It directly relates to the central idea behind The Assembly Hall – a desire to share information and be supportive, to help one another to get ahead. It is such a positive way to approach not only business, but your life too.
What else makes this project really meaningful for you?
After a couple of years of running our own businesses solo, it has been a wonderfully refreshing and re-charging experience to share creative ideas and work with each other. For Kate, it is a chance to get back to her teaching roots (she was formerly an interiors lecturer at RMIT) and for Charlie it is an opportunity to get out from behind the blog and connect in the real world with her followers.
You’ve both been living in Singapore for a while now. What continues to inspire you about this city?
Kate: Singapore’s transient nature means you’re getting to meet and work with exciting new people all the time. I love that everyone brings a little slice of ‘home’ when it comes to design and trends.
Charlie: Singapore is a tremendously inspiring place to live. The mix of tradition and modernity, coupled with a truly multi-cultural society, means that there is always something new to discover. But there is one area of the broader expat experience in Singapore that I am often struck by (and it has nothing to do with helpers or the ability to go somewhere glamorous for the weekend). Living away from your home country and leaving behind friends, family and a career, throws up a wonderful opportunity to re-imagine a new direction for your life and try something new. I know so many women who are making these choices and it surely has to be one of the more enduring and meaningful upsides of life as an expat. For me, this has become one of the most inspiring aspects of living in Singapore.
What has been the most challenging thing about launching the new business?
The biggest task to date has been setting up the website! I’m not sure you would say it was a challenge but it certainly has been a steep learning curve – we joke that Kate is now on first name terms with the online help portals. But every challenge has a reward and we now feel completely in charge of this important aspect of our business so that we can manage it ourselves going forward.
We’re excited about the interior styling, flower and photography courses you have lined up: what other types of courses should we expect to see coming on in the next 12 months?
As the year progresses we plan to add to our mix of individual and small business workshops. For the home, we will offer some more specific styling workshops and for small businesses we will continue to offer workshops that help entrepreneurs to master the skills they need to manage all aspects of their business. But we are very open to listen to the Singapore community, so if there is a workshop you would like us to run, get in touch through the website and let us know.
What level of skill will participants walk away with after a course?
All our workshops aim to be as practical as possible so that participants can get hands-on experience. This ensures that our participants will walk away with real life practice giving them the confidence to put into place the skills they’ve learnt once they return home.
Because you’re both such fun mums, we’d love to know: what do you think is Singapore’s best-kept secret for families?
Kate: I don’t know if it’s a secret, but we love going to Colbar for an early dinner and a beer on the weekend. It’s very basic and a bit of a time warp, but it makes me feel nostalgic about my time growing up in Hong Kong.
Charlie: I’m flattered that you think I’m a fun mum – my kids might disagree with that at times! As a family we’ve just discovered the delights of bike riding together – my six-year-old daughter has just mastered riding a bike without stabilisers and we can now be found on weekends cycling along the river to Robertson’s Quay, stopping to watch the otters along the way.
And, finally: let us in on your favourite way to enjoy quality time without the kids?
Kate: Anything that involves uninterrupted food and wine consumption!
Charlie: I adore meeting with a close friend to laugh and chat. I love a good chat so for me there is nothing more therapeutic (…and in my experience kids are generally not into their mums having long chit chats!)
The Assemby Hall has courses starting from 7 June. Prices start from $79 for a two-hour course.
Photography: Charlie Cameron, Kate Gallagher & Zoe Hasker Photography
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