Bynd Artisan’s Winnie Chan on wanting to become her dad’s secretary at age 10

In the seventh episode of CNA Luxury’s podcast series Next Gen, Winnie Chan, a self-professed “daddy’s little girl”, shares how she wanted to help her father ease his workload by becoming his secretary. Today, she’s the co-founder of Bynd Artisan, which she sees as continuing the legacy of her grandfather’s bookbinding business.

Winnie Chan, 49, is the quintessential woman-about-town. There she is, on the judging panel of Halogen Foundation’s NFTE Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. There she is, attending the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year awards with her husband, James Quan – their “first black-tie event in 2 years”. There she is, at the KAWS: Holiday exhibition at Marina Bay.

She documents these experiences on social media, curating stills and stories with studious detail. These offer her 11,600 Instagram followers a glimpse into the life of a successful businesswoman, wife, mother-of-two – and, most recently – grandmother-of-one. One thing is clear: There is a lot of passion, whether it involves family or business.

For the uninitiated, Winnie and James are the founders of paper and leather craft brand Bynd Artisan. The seven-year-old company operates three retail stores in Singapore – the flagship at Holland Village, an atelier in Raffles City, and an “experience store” in ION Orchard. The latter opened this September, a collaboration with popular ice-creamery Sunday Folks.

Disregard the slick storefronts and savvy marketing; theirs is a business three generations in the making. It all stems from Winnie’s grandfather, Chan Koon Song, who established a small bookbinding workshop in 1942. The elder Chan passed away before Winnie was born, leaving her father – the eldest child in the family – to tend to the business, then known as Goy Liang Book-Making Company, and renamed Grandluxe in the 1960s.

“What my father did [is that] he went into production and wholesale manufacturing,” she explained. “And for me, now, a large part of it is retail. But what we’re really doing is creating experiences and delivering emotions. I feel very blessed to be able to take the legacy of my grandfather, and have pivoted.”

As a tribute to her grandfather, Winnie created an art installation outside the Holland Village flagship, using a relic from the company’s early years: His Heidelberg letterpress. The gigantic printing press frequently attracts curious onlookers as they stroll past. “I’m very, very sure that I have made my grandfather proud,” she mused.

As a child, Winnie idolised her father. “I was daddy’s little girl,” she said. “My ambition since I was 10 was to become his secretary, so I could help him ease his workload.” This desire was spurred by observing how consumed her father was with work. “When my dad came home from work, he would talk about nothing else but work… it was just customers, suppliers [and all that].”

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In the seventh episode of CNA Luxury’s podcast series Next Gen, Winnie Chan, a self-professed “daddy’s little girl”, shares how she wanted to help her father ease his workload by becoming his secretary. Today, she’s the co-founder of Bynd Artisan, which she sees as continuing the legacy of her grandfather’s bookbinding business. Winnie Chan, 49,…

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