Bella Koh is a girl firmly on our lust-list. Not only is she the owner of the delightfully decadent ‘Flea&Trees’ in hipster haven Tiong Bahru, but thanks to her passion for food, she’s also one of Singapore’s finest food bloggers. Oh and she has six, yes six, cats.
Using her fashion know-how gained from retail giants F J Benjamin, where she worked with Singapore favourite brand Raoul, when she saw an open retail space she grabbed it with both hands. She describes the shop as a collection of her belongings and stories, so lovingly is each piece selected and has used her now famed fabulous taste to turn her into an instagram food sensation.
Fill us in on your background and where you grew up?
I was born and raised in Singapore. I grew up in a humble middle-class family, always surrounded by pets, sibling fisticuffs (we’re all very close now, don’t worry) and Mum’s home cooked food. With a fashion merchandising background, I started designing accessories for RAOUL under FJ Benjamin. I’ve always had an interest in varied disciplines, from fashion and design to music and food. To me, they are all rooted in very similar human impulses.
How would you describe your personal style?
I adore the laid-back luxe look: simple attire with statement accessories and occasionally I’ll fall for seasonal shapes and silhouettes. Right now, I’m a big fan of crop tops, high slit skirts and oversized blazers.
You left FJ Benjamin to start your own boutique – such a brave move! What made you decide to take the leap?
I learnt a lot from Odile Benjamin and am to this day very thankful to her and Douglas Benjamin (my ex-bosses) for giving me an invaluable first step into the industry. However, I have always had the desire to start my own store, be it a boutique or a webstore. More importantly I want to share with friends and even strangers, handpicked items and products curated by my sense of style.
My husband, Terence and I stay at Tiong Bahru, a bustling neighborhood that is a charming locale with the right mix of heritage and openness to new cultures. A few years back, a space had opened up and we didn’t hesitate to start what we believe would add even more flavour and value to our beloved estate. So, we started Flea & Trees.
So how would you describe Flea&Trees?
Yes, we sell clothes, ornaments and accessories, but it has become so much more than that. It has grown into a space for our friends, loved ones and strangers.
Every single item in this space is a pride of joy for us. They have been passionately fussed upon and handpicked on our monthly travels. Flea & Trees is a collection of our belongings and stories. And we always want visitors to find something new. Now, more than ever, people are constantly rushing around and we seem to have forgotten what it means to be quiet, to take things in and to take our time.We want people to remember that they always have a choice, and that life is best lived slow. At least that’s what we believe and practice.
We have been amazed at the success of the shop, it’s been so well received so we have decided to take it online too. We’ll be launching our online store www.fleaandtrees.com really soon! So much work has gone into it!
Moving onto our favourite topic: jewellery! Bold, cocktail inspired jewellery is certainly enjoying its moment in the fashion sun – what are your top tips for styling it?
Don’t be afraid to work with colours! They can work wonders with simple outfits.
Try sticking to just one to two signature pieces for each outfit. It’s an art to say more with less.
Wear it with confidence, ladylike manners and a genuine smile!
What 3 pieces of jewellery do you think every woman should have?
A vibrant statement necklace for those youthful days of summer that will last through the year!
A structural gold cuff you can always depend on whether you are dressing up a pants suit or that fabulous evening dress.
A pair of classic pearl earrings for those special nights or days, understated and timeless.
Jewellery faux-pas would be?
Too many items on an outfit. No one wants to look like a Christmas tree. Always keep it simple. It’s all in the details.
After the success of Flea & Trees, you are now dipping your toe into the world of food blogging – how did this come about?
It started with me posting my daily kitchen exploits on Instagram. I love to eat beautifully. I simply wanted to document my food journey, a personal one that focused on organic ingredients, unprocessed foods, vegan lunches, detoxing and of course, good taste. As it went on, the likes and followers grew, and soon I was approached to collaborate with lifestyle brands and magazines such as SuperNature (under the COMO Group), The Lo & Behold Group, Vulture magazine and many others. I guess my love for food, style and minor OCD made it all possible.
Follow Bella, her cats, her style and of course her food journey on instagram @catslavery
Flea&Trees, 68 Seng Poh Lane, Singapore, 160068
+65 8139 1133
To celebrate the launch of Sassy Singapore, Bella is kindly offering Sassy readers 10% off her amazing jewellery from Flea&Trees. Simply enter the code YOUARESASSY after filling in the shipping and billing information and voila! Available until 31st July 2014.
Thanks so much Bella, and of course, to the always wonderful Gunilla from Sugar Light Photography for the fantastic pics