How a mobile trading app in Singapore can change lives

Singapore Marketplace App Carousell Saw 8 Times More Listings, Raises $6 Million In Investment!

Locally-based app Carousell, which allows users to buy and sell items, has gained something of a bad reputation among some users. Some users' experiences -- such as encountering no-shows during sale meetings or potential buyers who offer extremely low prices -- are so bad that they call the app "Carou-hell".

But on the flipside, there have been heartwarming and inspiring stories from users whose lives have changed -- for the better -- since they used the app which was launched in 2012.

Pursuing passion

One of them is Grace Kwan, 22, who was a student at the National University of Singapore until last year, when she decided to drop out in order to pursue her passion of making her own bags.

Kwan first started making her own bag two years ago, when she attempted making a tote bag. The first attempt got her hooked, and pretty soon, she was selling her the first few pieces of work on Carousell. She used the app because it was free and simple to manage.

With orders for her bags increasing, the demands of making the bag started to affect her studies as well, and she found herself spending more time thinking up ways to improve her product.

It was when she realised that she wanted to focus on her business that she decided to quit school after three years of studying architecture.

Product of Grace Kwan sold on her Carousell account, GSEWS. (Photo screengrab from GSEWS account)
Product of Grace Kwan sold on her Carousell account, GSEWS. (Photo screengrab from GSEWS account)

Since making the decision to pursue her passion, Kwan’s one-man brand, GSEWS, has now grown from ready-made bags, to customisable ones.

“People have become more interested because most handmade bags tend to be costly, but since I’ve priced my items to be affordable for everyone, I’ve received a lot more enquiries,” she said.

Suggestions from her customers on Carousell also helped in her expansion on the variety of bags she makes — she first began with making tote bags, and now, with feedback, she’s also making bucket bags, as well as other smaller products.

Being a one-man business surely comes with its fair share of stress, but Kwan stands firm on ensuring that her customers are able to get the best quality that she can offer.

“I enjoy it very much as it lets me undertake the entire process of designing, making, packaging and serving which makes it a really exciting journey,” she said.

As to whether she has any regrets on her decision, Kwan says, “I have absolutely no regrets dropping out of school because I'm doing what I enjoy every day and nothing drives me more than my interest and passion.”

“GSEWS is a job that I created for myself that fully suits my personality and skills so I'm really thankful that the risk I took paid off,” she added.

She now makes an average of over $2,000 per month, after starting to focus on her work full-time.

You can check out Kwan's Carousell account at @GSEWS.

Priceless friendships

Another user, Leon Foo, found a good friend, since he started using the app.

The 30-year-old violin teacher was selling books and accessories on Carousell, when he chanced upon the account of Loreta Koh, a 27-year-old piano teacher, who was selling piano books.

On 6th October last year, Foo got in touch with Koh to see if she was interested in forming a partnership for both parties to promote their music books on their individual platforms, such as their Carousell accounts, websites, or to corporate clients.

When both were in agreement, they met for a discussion, and found that they were both people who were passionate about classical music — and so began their friendship.

Besides helping each other with their individual businesses, Foo also said that working together has allowed them to share their experiences in the industry, and learn from each other’s mistakes. When Koh had a business deal, Foo helped her by providing expertise in dealing with clients, such as what should or should not be done.

Musically, Foo also introduced students for Koh to teach, and they practice duets together. Foo added that there is a video production in the works, where the two plans to perform a violin-piano piece. However, due to their scheduling conflict and lack of production resources, the plan has not taken off.

Although Foo’s business did not start with Carousell, he noted that Carousell has helped significantly, attributing about half of his sales to the platform.

Now, from just users on Carousell, the two have become more than just business partners, and have formed a close friendship where they text frequently. Foo also attended Koh’s wedding.

“When it comes to music-related or Carousell-related matters, we think of each other immediately and try to help each other out,” they said. “We have a lot of trust and confidence in each other.”

You can check out Foo and Koh's Carousell accounts at @truelove123, and @musicnuts respectively.