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#14

Samantha Zhuang

Co-founder & Director
It's a surprise when Samantha identifies as an introvert. Being the girl-boss of local woodworking studio The Table Guy, she’s often the friendly, gregarious face of their social media and has had to put herself outside her comfort zone. She’s clearly thriving though, having grown their following by leaps and bounds over a short span of a few years. We spent some time with her at their showroom as well as her light-filled walk-up in the Tiong Bahru estate.

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“Our journey starting The Table Guy in one word: unfathomable.” 

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“I read a lot about people who start businesses as a passion project - they go into it with such clear goals and ideals, and we just… kind of stumbled into The Table Guy.”

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“It basically just started with us wanting to get a table, and we helped a few other people get tables at the same time. Then it kind of snowballed from there with different kinds of requests from more people, which led us down different paths and possibilities.”

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“Because we didn’t explicitly set out to create The Table Guy with a clear vision of what it would or could be, our main challenge has been finding our identity along the way.”

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“We’ve made a lot of (expensive) mistakes in experimenting and testing new ideas, but the fun side to that is that the sky’s been the limit and we’ve really pushed far beyond anything we could have imagined before.”

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"Running the business is a 24/7 activity and it can get quite tunnel-vision-y after a while. As an incurable introvert, when I’m not working, I’m mostly recharging with solo activities!”

“A big ‘de-stress’ activity I do is go into hiding for a while. The phone gets turned off and depending on my mood it’s either a Playstation binge session or a walk in nature. Sometimes if I feel uninspired I’ll pick up a book (autobiographies are great) and I’ll read the whole book in a single sitting without doing anything else.”

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“My number one addiction is reading - I use books to learn, research, get inspiration and escape.”

“I’m actually pretty excited this year, because we’ve been living in temporary digs since forever, so this is the first year my books have really gotten out of their moving boxes and onto a real bookshelf! My idea of retail therapy is definitely Kinokuniya.”

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“I also found that a decadent afternoon nap is a fantastic way to feel better.”

“I’m a super hot sleeper so SOJAO sheets are so fantastic for me - I never wake up uncomfortable in the middle of the night because it got too hot. Before using SOJAO sheets I’ve used IKEA sheets and some satin types from Takashimaya, but my current favourites are the SOJAO sets so those are now backup sheets for when we get absolutely horrible at laundry haha. Also, the SOJAO sheet colours are perfect.”

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Samantha’s bed is dressed in a Classic Mix & Match Bundle Set of a Classic Fitted Sheet in Navy, Classic Duvet Cover and Classic Pillow Case Pair in Stone and White. 

“I’m not a morning person, so coffee and breakfast are 1000% a necessity for me! I’d say a good 50% of our decision to get this house was the ability to get either croissants and flat whites or chwee kuehs and kopis in the morning, and that has definitely worked out. Dapao-ing (takeaway) breakfast is literally the first thing we do every day.”

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“We have the best view from our balcony so that’s where we spend the first 15 minutes of every day - there’s a gorgeous tree just out front and we’re at the same height as the crown, so it’s very relaxing to just watch the tiny birds and bees buzz around there at the start of the day.”

“I don’t really have a favourite nook in the house - we’ve lived through several renovations already, so when we designed this space we intentionally made all of it usable.”

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“I do love the sofa though - it was custom made for us by our friends at Blafink, and it’s customised to be extra long and extra deep for maximum TV-watching-playstation-playing comfort! We don’t have a guest room, so this also doubles as a bed if it needs to haha!”

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Featured above are the Cable Knit Throw in Navy, Minimal Knit Cushion Cover in Mustard and Ivory, and Checkered Rib Cushion Cover in Navy.

“At this moment, the dining table is my favourite thing in the house!”

“It’s built from an African Mahogany tree that was felled in some guy’s backyard in Singapore. We managed to get our hands on a few pieces of it, and one day we finished one of the pieces and realised that it was this super rich, blood red colour that we absolutely had to have in our home. We found the material for this table about 2 years before we found the house!”

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Our new Japanese tableware collection now available online here. Featured above, the Jicon Short Rim Porcelain Bowls.

“So we basically decorated the house around the material. Red is not an easy colour to match, so we went with dark floors and accents as well as neutral walls to allow the red to stand out without being too stark.”

“We also didn’t know what table we wanted to build until we sat in the space for a while - the original plan was to keep it as a slab and use a crane to bring it through the balcony, as it was massive. After we started renovations though, we realised a round table would fit our plan better. I also like round tables a lot more for gatherings, because everyone can see and talk to everyone.”

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“The leg frame was also a challenge - we had a specific form factor we wanted to achieve but we had to counter the weight of the table top to prevent the table from toppling. So in the end we had to execute the leg frame in stainless steel which is heavier than mild steel, and it was put together by local metal sculptor Baremetalco. It’s a folded sheet, so the center is actually hollow in case we wanted to put additional weights in to balance out the table top.” 

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“I’m very much about customising the essential elements to the house as much as possible, because customising it allows you to get the function and aesthetic you need, which in turn means that you’re less likely to get annoyed with it and dispose it later.”

“Home is a safe space of restoration and retreat, so the things we choose to surround ourselves with and interact with on a daily basis have to, for lack of a better catchphrase, spark joy.”

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“I take the long view on most furnishing decisions - instead of rushing to get the whole house “insta-worthy” and “picture perfect” by getting off-the-shelf furniture, we actually moved in first with nothing in the house, and took a couple of months to feel how we actually moved in the space before ordering things to fit.”

“To anyone out there who may be starting to explore doing something unconventional, I’d say, “get support and give support!” Meet other business owners, surround yourself with people who you can trust to give you honest feedback.”

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“Building and running a business is an emotional, mental and physical marathon, and it can get crazy lonely. But my personal experience is that the small business community in Singapore is so supportive, even those in direct competition.”

“I’m looking forward to making new friends and seeing what new things come our way this coming year! I haven’t had a year end the way I thought it would for many years now, so the whole thing is a great ride.” 

@tableguysg

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