No plain Janes - Part 2 of 2

Jane Hia, 26, owner of Kith Cafe, 7 Rodyk Street, #01-33 Watermark@Robertson Quay.

YOLO:    You graduated with a degree in Industrial Design. Why the shift to F&B? 

JH:        By the 3rd year of university, I knew for sure I wasn’t going into ID as a career.  The design process was too slow and long for someone like me, who has a concentration span of a 5-year-old. I’ve always enjoyed food and entertaining my friends, so naturally my first job was in F&B, to handle events and PR for the Da Paolo group

YOLO:    How was Kith born?

JH:    I enjoy coffee very much and found there wasn’t enough good coffee around. So after much thought and calculations with Dayat (my business partner), we decided that we might be able to pull off something really small.
    I knew I wanted Kith to be sincere, honest and warm. From there, our branding, design, direction and attention to service came very naturally. This was never about setting out to make tons of money.  If that happens, it’s a bonus.

YOLO:    What were the initial challenges you faced?

JH:         Ask anyone on the street what their dream is and 80% of them would say they want to open a café.
I was extremely worried that I was just one of the many with unrealistic fantasies thinking I could pull off.  I really wondered if I could not only do this, but do it well.

In the end, Dayat and I figured that if we don’t try this now, the longer we waited, the greater the opportunity cost would be.
The timing seemed right, with no mortgage to pay, no kids to feed. If it failed, we just had to know how to cut losses, end it and just go work for someone else. We kept it real like that.

Financially, no bank would give us a loan as we were so new.  We didn’t want a bank loan either because paying interest would kill us. Hence, financial support from friends and family was the only way for us then.  I am extremely blessed to have amazing support from family and friends. It just made everything so much easier.

YOLO:        How was the first day at work?

JH:    The night before the store opening, I made strawberry jam for the first time. I didn’t read any recipes, as I don’t bother to follow them usually anyway.
I started at about midnight in my own kitchen after spending the whole day getting the shop ready. Was dead tired, and was glad that after 2 hours of stirring with love, I thought the jam was almost done.
I left the jam on the stove for a quick shower, only to find it burnt upon my return.  Man, I thought real-hard if I should just go out and buy jarred jam, but I couldn’t live with the thought that I opened my shop with regular jam, just because I was too tired.

YOLO:        What is the best thing about your job?

JH:    We have been extremely fortunate that we have the sweetest and most understanding customers. They are always patient, and many times it gets so busy that they help us clear the tables and bring dirty dishes back.  It never fails to warm my heart every time. We’ve been very spoilt.
Our customers come from all walks of life – someone who does online poker, an inventor, the editor of Monocle magazine, someone who owns a porn shop somewhere, a hotel owner from Bali, nannies etc.  Some customers even share recipes with us and bring coffee beans from their overseas travels back to us. 
Sharing these moments and making someone’s day happier are what Kith’s all about.

YOLO:        You only live once. What is your hope?

JH:    I hope I’ll be able to stay true to myself, and Kith’s culture. I don’t want to be sucked into the commercial world completely, and aim to keep Kith a place that is easy, chill and nothing pretentious.


YOLO is all for sipping one of their signature lattes at Kith!

Visit www.kith.com.sg for more information and café opening hours.

Click here to read No Plain Janes Part 1 of 2 feature cosplay fanatic and savvy entrepreneur, Jane Fong!