When Emma Thomas and Justinna Pank arrived in Singapore in April 2007, they immediately noticed there was a market for kids’ scooters.
Their own kids were huge Micro scooter fans, and Justinna recalls being stopped often by curious passers-by who “gasped as they had never seen such young children being mobile like this before.”
Justinna and Emma are also winners of the Longevity Award in The Finder’s 2018 Expatpreneur Awards.
“Moving here, I knew that I wanted to have a challenge,” reminisces Emma, and that opportunity presented itself when she met Justinna. “Funnily enough, we both discovered we had a sense of ‘get up and go’ in us, and decided to execute our business ideas together. Micro took the running, and it has led to the rest of our journey together,” says Justinna.
They set up White & Black Trading later on in 2007, but before they could really get started, they had to buy the first containers using their own funds, says Emma, noting that it was a nerve-wracking experience for them and their husbands. They also didn’t take a salary during the business’s first 18 months, and put all the money they had earned back into the business to buy the next batch of stock.
“It was, however, a very exciting time trying to build up our retail network by selling directly at fairs and building awareness,” adds Justinna, who still remembers their excitement when they sold their first nine Micro Scooters at the British Club fair. What they are most proud of? “We helped build the ‘category’ of scooting in Singapore,” beams Emma.
Today, White and Black Trading retails a wide range of scooter, bikes, skateboards, a range of bags, cowboy teepees as well as scooter and skateboard accessories from globally respected brands. It is also the sole distributor of the Micro brands of scooters in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei.
The company is now in its 10th year, and this has given it a seal of permanency. “We always tell people, when asked, we are here to stay. And, yes, over the years there have been hurdles but we just take it in our stride and do what we can,” says Justinna.
By Hazel Vincent De Paul, The Finder Issue 292
More on The Finder:
Meet the Winners of The Finder Expatpreneur Awards 2018!
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