These 6 S’poreans are doing amazing things with their unconventional passions, making


Every day, we commute and see streams of strangers pass us by on this dense and hectic little red dot.

If we had the time and courage to converse with some of them, we might uncover many incredible achievements of these fellow “normal” Singaporeans.

At least that’s what I thought after learning about the stories of these six amazing Singaporeans who have eventually carved out a successful career from their passion and can-do attitude.

1. Young pharmacist who is also a …powerlifter champion

If you ever meet 27-year-old Farhanna Farid in real life, you probably wouldn’t think that she would be able to lift you up.

Trust me, she probably could.

Farhanna, despite looking petite, can lift more than three times her body weight.

Farhanna Farid: lifting a sport for all

In 2018, she bagged three gold medals at the Asian Classic Powerlifting Championship after training for over a year and a half.

She managed to achieve that with sheer hard work and persistence by committing a good deal of her time to training.

Farhanna shared that she would always hit the gym after work and would train until 10pm – 11pm.

What motivates her is the fact that powerlifting is a sport that empowers her.

She constantly pushes her limits through powerlifting.

And boy, she sure proves that girls with a small physique can flex too.

You can watch this interview clip to hear more about her powerlifting journey:

2. Foreword Coffee – an inclusive café

It is not easy to survive and thrive in the F&B industry – just ask anyone who works in it.

And Singapore is a whole new ball game, with different food options and value-for-money hawker food.

Many who have dived into the industry will have some war stories to tell.

Enter the founders of Foreword Coffee, Lim Wei Jie and Nadi Chan.

The duo decided to open the cafe out of their love for coffee and the special needs community.

The coffees at Foreword Coffee are lovingly made by baristas who are differently abled – they may be deaf, have cerebral palsy, or autism.

The founders of Foreword Coffee overcame challenges as they discovered ways to integrate the needs of their staff into their operations.

They recalled the parting words from the doubters.

“They were saying our model of doing things was difficult to scale, and [it would be] very hard to work with people with autism in a cafe or teaching them coffee… Very labour intensive. But that didn’t stop us from continuing to try things out.”

Foreword Coffee has since expanded to three outlets in the past three years, at Civil Service College Buona Vista, Centre for Healthcare Innovation (CHI), and Temasek Shophouse.

Read their story here:

3. Working seven days a week can be a joy

“Aiya, cannot one lah!” is probably your response to anyone who tells you to work every day in the week.

But that’s really the case for 27-year-old Darren Goh.

And no, there’s no need to report to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Sneakpeek Singapore Darren Goh

Goh has a deskbound job on weekdays.

On weekends, he is a tour guide at Sneak Peek, who brings visitors on a five-hour trip around central Singapore.

Interacting with people from all walks of life and exploring Singapore through these Saturday tours seem to energize and refresh Goh.

Just look at this photo, and you can tell that the groups had a whale of a time:

To Goh, Singapore holds many stories in its nooks and crannies.

And the best way to discover Singapore’s history and back stories is to walk to these places.

The walk also provides him a healthy dose of exercise.

You can read more about Goh’s story here:

4. A hidden gem in Serangoon

For someone who has been living in the northeast for almost two decades, I am surprised to discover this shop in Serangoon only recently.

Cheong Ann Watch Maker is a clock repair shop at Lim Tua Tow Road that has lasted for at least three generations. This shop receives requests from visitors from as far as Germany, UK and U.S. and India but as a Sengkanger, I am ashamed to not know this place earlier.

Cheong Ann Watch Maker storefront

While the shop is full of antiques, the third-generation shopkeeper is a youthful 26-year-old man named Shawn Lim.

Lim said that he has been playing around in the shop his whole life, and that he loves “old stuff”. You can find various antique clocks at the shop, of at least 100 years old.

Now an apprentice under his father’s wing, the older Lim mentioned that he has utmost confidence in his successor even though he has been quite stingy with praises.

“Actually he has proven that he can do it,” the older Lim shouted out in the background when we interviewed Lim last year.

Cheong Ann Watch Maker three generations Cheong Ann Watch Maker three generations

Watch our interview with Lim here:

5. “Aiya let’s just do it anyway lah”

We all have times where we go with our gut feeling to do something that we feel strongly about, although it may not sound like the most suitable thing at that time.

“Aiya let’s just do it anyway lah.” This is what Estella Ng and Liew Liquan said when we asked about the start of their creative journey as the Ripple Root story.

Back in 2014, the two artists decided to collaborate after facing creative differences with their bosses. Although their creative concept involving mangroves got rejected by their bosses, the duo decided to just create art about mangroves anyway. They then went on to start an exhibition and even sold some of the pieces which gave them the confidence to do more.

Five years on, their murals can be found on some walls in Singapore, introducing our country’s heritage and culture to the world through their modern art style.

These two culture shapers also proved that one can get to know more about the roots of Singapore by visiting the streets and alleys (and taking some OOTDs), other than just going to the museum.

6. Creating Singaporean spirits

“What is a Singapore spirit?” you may ask.

And Jamie Koh has the answer for you:

Brass Lion Gin

Koh started Singapore’s first standalone micro-distillery, Brass Lion Distillery, in the hopes of creating handcrafted spirits and a gin that is unique to Singapore.

That’s how Koh created this Singapore dry gin made with lavender and butterfly pea flower.

Butterfly pea flowers are staple to the Peranakan culture and Koh hopes that these locally made gins can reflect Singapore’s heritage and culture.

While the industry is male-dominated, Koh has proven that ladies with grit and entrepreneurial spirit like herself can make a name in the craft spirit industry too.

That is the true Singaporean spirit (pun intended).

These Singaporeans have proven that Singapore is more than just a food haven, or an island that contains prominent tourist attractions such as the Gardens by the Bay or the Marina Bay Sands.

It’s the people who shape what a country is about, and where like-minded people of different tribes connect; foodies (like Foreword Coffee duo), cultural shapers (Ripple Root), socialisers (Koh), collectors (Lim), action seekers (Farhanna) and explorers (Goh).

The sponsored article in collaboration with Singapore Tourism Board (STB) helped this writer plan her future weekends. Singaporeans should support Singaporeans, right?

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