Entrepreneur Christine Yue, 39, started her home business selling lor bak, or braised meat, with her back against the wall.
Since February, her nail salon Dollhouse Nails, located at Citylink mall, had seen business fall by about 60 per cent. Even before the circuit breaker began in April, customers were already staying away as fears of the coronavirus took hold and more people started working from home.
She says it was a "scary and stressful time" because she has an 11-month-old son at home and her husband, a 37-year-old 3D designer, had taken a 30 per cent pay cut. Launching Lorbak Mama in May helped stem the losses, but her first foray into the food and beverage (F&B) industry threw up a steep learning curve.
"I know only how to cook. I didn't have the budget to take professional photos and didn't know what sort of photos would appeal to customers," says Ms Yue.
Enter photographer Jeryl Tan. He, too, had lost work over the past few months and decided to help F&B owners market their business by offering free food photography.
He is among a small number of creatives who have recently pitched in to help F&B establishments stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Although there were many Facebook groups promoting small local businesses that did not have a strong digital presence, those without attractive images, he noticed, tended to lag behind.
"I saw a drastic difference in engagement between the hawkers who have social media and photography know-how, and those who don't.
"When the food looks good, the photo is more likely to get 'likes' and shares and make people want to give it a try. It felt like an unfair fight," says Mr Tan.
This is the first of a five-part series in collaboration with DBS to showcase people in Singapore who have come together to uplift the community in these trying times
He launched the project in May and ran it for seven weeks, photographing food from 41 businesses. Some used them primarily on social media, while others listed the photos on food delivery platforms such as Grab or Foodpanda.
Mr Tan says: "Every F&B owner is doing this to support his family. Photos are no guarantee that they can earn more, but give them a shot at increasing their income."
For Ms Yue, his photos have increased sales by about 20 per cent. Much of what she earns now goes to rent and keeping her 10 salon staff, many of whom are foreigners, on payroll.
With steady orders of up to 60 portions at lunchtime, she also engages a pool of 10 to 15 Grab drivers, who have lost work due to the coronavirus, to fulfil the deliveries.
"It's a really tough time, but everyone is doing what he can to help one another," she says.
Co-founders of branding and marketing consultancy Work in Progress Crystal Fam and Elyena Lee, both 29, launched a similar initiative when they noticed that many businesses abruptly shunted online by the circuit breaker had messy, poorly organised menus.
"Some owners would upload the menu as an album, with prices in each caption. It is tedious to browse and people might not have the patience to go through 10 to 15 photos," says Ms Lee, who realised this while trying to order food for her family and friends.
In June, they launched Community in Progress, which creates personalised, branded menus for small companies that lack the staff or know-how to do it themselves.
This involved coming up with a colour scheme and typography that suited each business, such as pastel shades for an ice cream selleRead More – Source[contf] [contfnew]