“When both of our families moved to Singapore, after four years living in Hong Kong, everything was new, but we still had to quickly find and furnish a house, get our children into school and do the usual things expatriates are familiar with,” shares Vickie, who moved here with her husband a few months after her friend Valeria.
This was back in January 1993 – during the Internet’s infancy – and there was no simple way for SG newbies to search for businesses and services. “So we thought it would be a great idea to publish a magazine to help expats and newbies like us integrate into life in Singapore,” says Vickie, whose marketing background and Valeria’s accounting smarts helped to start The Finder and run it out of a study in Valeria’s house.
Check out the video below from The Finder‘s original marketing ace, Sarah James, and then flip through the gallery to learn more about the original #teamfinder.
Valeria, a mother of two, gets the credit for naming the magazine, because it assisted people in finding things around the island. She also brought in her friend Sarah James to sell advertisements, and the team hired typesetter, Jackie Masterson. In November 1993, the first 3,500 copies of The Finder – a black-and-white, eight-paged, classifieds-style publication – were distributed for free.
“It was great, because I was able to meet and enjoy doing business with many people,” recalls Sarah, who is the only member of the original staff to still live here in Singapore.
By issue 13, the monthly magazine had evolved into a colourful “glossy” with 20 pages of advertising and a circulation of around 5,000. “With a huge amount of hard work, commitment and a spirit of adventure, we delivered the early editions of The Finder,” Vickie remembers fondly. But then in 1995, both her family and Valeria’s family were relocated back to the UK. “The Finder had to pass into new hands,” says Vickie.
It went to the capable “hands” of Australian Chris Vidal, who’d been a teacher at Tanglin Trust School for 17 years. “Chris knew so much about Singapore,” recalls Sarah, who stayed on as its advertising ace. “She brought life to the magazine – it became ‘the read’ to find out what was going on around the island.” Chris relished her two-year Managing Editor stint, and fondly recalls writing personality profiles and columns such as “Did You Know That…?” and “Chris on Wines”.
For their spirit of adventure and hard work, The Finder is honouring Vickie, Sarah and Chris with its first Pioneers Award. It will also be given to Valeria in memoriam, as she sadly passed away from breast cancer at age 39. “I am sure Valeria would be as delighted as I am by what The Finder has become,” says Vickie (pictured, left). “We were very proud of it, and we thank Singapore Press Holdings for believing in ‘our idea’ today and evolving it onto digital platforms.”
By Sara Lyle Bow, The Finder Issue 292
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