After 7 years as a capital markets lawyer, Visha Nelson saw a gap in the Singapore market and opened a home decor store, then used her creative passions to design her own bespoke range of home accessories to compliment the international products she stocked.
What’s your story?
I am the founder of The Cinnamon Room, an award winning home decor store that I established in 2014. Having lived in London, Hong Kong and New York, as a Singapore born ex-capital markets lawyer and mother of two, I left my corporate life in pursuit of my creative passions to start up my design business when I finally returned to Singapore with my family.
Having found a distinct shortage of unique and well-priced contemporary homewares in Singapore, I started sourcing products from all around the world to meet my own needs initially. As I travelled around on my sourcing trips, I saw a great opportunity to design my own bespoke range of home accessories and from there, The Cinnamon Room was born.
What excites you most about your industry?
I feel good design is something so fundamental to our well being. It orchestrates our living environment and creates comfortable spaces we now need more than ever, in a time where our home is our utmost sanctuary. The evolving designs of the home decor industry serve to enhance people’s lives and I love being part of it, to help transform spaces for our clients into something that reflects their personality, bringing them comfort and joy in their homes!
My passion for design and strong business sense has taken The Cinnamon Room from strength to strength and the brand has been awarded the Gold Award for Best Carpet and Rug Store in Singapore in 2019 and 2020 as well as several international design awards. Having now established the brand in the Singapore market, I am keen to respond to global demand and am working towards taking our contemporary and unique designs worldwide.
What is your connection to Asia?
I am Singaporean, was born here and lived here till I was 18. I moved away for my education and lived abroad in London , New York and Hong Kong for 20 years when I was practicing as a corporate lawyer before moving back to Singapore – so Singapore is essentially home for me and my family.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
My favourite country for business in Asia is India. The creative artisans and skill sets of the craftsmen are second to none, the colours, textiles and materials are so varied and the innovative manufacturing processes are very inspirational for a product designer. I can’t narrow it down to a city to be honest as the country prides itself on different speciality crafts in different regions.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don’t be afraid to take risks and dare to fail! To evolve as an entrepreneur, it involves challenging yourself constantly to get out of your comfort zone to get to the next level . There are so many valuable lessons to learn from each “failure” to help improve your business practices. It is all part of a learning process and can be put down to being a valuable experience we grow from.
Who inspires you?
Several well known designers inspire me. Tricia Guild of the Designers Guild in London has been a true inspiration to me not just in her designs, but how she has made the brand global with her unique brand and an aesthetic that is easily identifiable. I love visiting her stores as they are always a truly inspirational space!
It inspires me to dream BIG and know that if you believe in yourself and your brand and conduct your business authentically and from the heart, you can grow it from strength to strength and it can only thrive!
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The power of digital marketing. I know this sounds obvious but when you are so busy running a business, you may not take the time to actually focus on this much. Over the lockdown period, I was forced to embrace the digital world by putting myself out there as a personal brand via videos offering home decor tips and tricks from my own home. This authentic approach to serve the community helped to create better connections with my audience and potential clients and has reaped considerable rewards.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have embraced the digital world earlier to build my brand awareness! Not waited for a pandemic to push me into it… Hindsight is always a fine thing!
How do you unwind?
I love to meditate and centre and ground myself . It helps to slow me down and take stock of where I am in my day and life. It is something that I make part of my daily practice to start my day well.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Sri lanka! I love the energy of Sri lanka and the land and all it has to offer. The stunning scenery, wild ocean and landscape fuels me! We are currently building a holiday home there which I hope will be extended to a wellness retreat bridging beautiful surroundings with deep spiritual practices.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Ask and it Shall be given by Abraham Hicks. It teaches you how to manifest effortlessly by having clarity of what you want (clarity is power), addressing the limiting beliefs that block you from getting what you want and finally being in allowance of receiving what you desire. It has been one of the most powerful books I have read!
Shameless plug for your business:
The Cinnamon Room is an award winning home decor business that is driven by my passion for good design, great quality and good value! The attention to detail in our designs is exceptional. A great amount of thought has gone into not just the aesthetics of our home decor range but the functionality of the product as well so we can bring a family friendly and stylish flair to any home. Our award winning home decor range and in particular our rugs and carpets use the very best of Asian artisan craftsmanship to create something unique and contemporary that is globally versatile! We pride ourselves on great customer service and building strong relationships with our clients to bring out the best of their personalities in their homes with their choice of home decor. To us, it’s always about building relationships rather than just making a sale! Feeling connected to our clientele is what spurs me on to do what I do; it is always a joy to hear from a happy client that we have helped to transform their homes effortlessly with our expert advice, unique home decor and beautiful rugs!
How can people connect with you?
I am usually in my happy place, our Holland Village showroom. If folks need some expert advice to help them transform their spaces, they can book a free 30min consultation with me there at The Cinnamon Room (address: 43 Jalan Merah Saga, 02-74, Singapore 278115), by emailing me at [email protected] to book their appointment.
If you would like to browse our collection, feel free to pop into our showroom which is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 11-4pm or shop our collection online at www.thecinnamonroom.com.
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To hear how entrepreneurs around the world overcome their challenges, search your favourite podcast platform for ‘CallumConnects‘ to hear a 5-minute daily breakdown.
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built, and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’, and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.