Chicken Up founder Luke Yi expands with art & crafts workshop platform Space 4 Us

Reta Lee
·Editor-in-Chief, Lifestyle
·4 min read
Luke Yi, CEO of Initia Group. (PHOTO: Initial Group)
Luke Yi, CEO of Initia Group. (PHOTO: Initial Group)

SINGAPORE – South Korean Luke Sang Wook Yi has called Singapore home for the past decade, having worked in Australia for 10 years before that. As a former IT consultant, he has always been interested in adding innovation and systemic approaches to traditional business models within the F&B and beauty industries. Using that approach, Yi decided to kickstart his entrepreneurship journey and created his first brand, Chicken Up Restaurant, in 2013, across Southeast Asia.

Yi then bullishly followed up with three Korean hair salon brands, Leekaja Beauty Salon in 2016, Walking On Sunshine – a beauty lounge with a garden-themed cafe – in 2018 and Cote Minam this year.

As a budding entrepreneur himself, Yi understands the struggles young artisans go through when their small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic. To help ease their burdens, Yi wanted to give back to the community by championing corporate social responsibility (CSR) via his company Initia Group.

A light bulb lit up in his mind when it also dawned upon him that Singaporeans are not able to travel due to the impending travel ban: “They are craving and hungry for new experiences – be it an activity to do during their own me-time or a family bonding activity.” Yi then thought of creating a platform where consumers have a space to ‘travel’ inwards and embark on a self-discovery journey.

Participants at an Ikebana workshop. (PHOTO: Space 4 Us)
Participants at an Ikebana workshop. (PHOTO: Space 4 Us)

“I saw an opportunity which presented itself when I combined these two factors – a platform for young artisans to reach out to a different crowd with higher disposable income and a space for my existing valued customers in Leekaja to unleash their creativity and create new experiences through arts & crafts – hence Space 4 Us was born,” Yi shared with Yahoo Lifestyle SEA.

Space 4 Us is located on the second floor of Mandarin Gallery. It borrows his salons and cafe’s signature concept – lush greenery with biophilic design – to foster a calm and relaxing mood.

“Biophilic design has been found to support cognitive function, physical health and psychological well-being. Because of this understanding, we strongly encourage more Singaporeans to have a piece of nature in their homes in the form of Kokedama – a Japanese moss ball, which is a variant of bonsai,” Yi shared.

“Kokedama is a more accessible way to enjoy the beauty of nature in our everyday lives. The craft of Kokedama is a reflection of the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-sabi, the art of appreciating beauty in the world’s natural imperfection. With this in mind, we offer ongoing Kokedama making sessions for walk-in customers, Kokedama starter kits and a variety of Kokedama display units for customers to purchase.”

Participants trying their hand at a moss frame installation workshop. (PHOTO: Space 4 Us)
Participants trying their hand at a moss frame installation workshop. (PHOTO: Space 4 Us)

Not just offering Kokedama workshops, Space 4 Us is filling up their event calendar this year with various workshops scheduled daily, covering Ikebana, moss frame installations, Jesmonite trays, candle-making, meditative watercolour painting, and ceramics. For each workshop, Space 4 Us only accommodates 16 participants as they follow strict social distancing protocols to ensure customers’ safety.

“We truly hope that Space 4 Us will be a platform for artisans, makers and crafts enthusiasts to meet, connect and learn together. We know that there is a huge opportunity now as people are more open to exploring their creativity and keen to pick up new skills,” Yi stressed.

The Renaissance man is also encouraging young entrepreneurs to contact him if they have interesting crafts workshops to share: “We would like to provide opportunities to all young and upcoming artisans and makers in Singapore. So far, we are truly impressed with the young artisans – they are exceptionally creative and enterprising!”

Currently, Space 4 Us has a Buy 3 Free 1 promotion package where customers can purchase four workshops of their choice at only S$300 (usual price is S$678). The Art Passes include coffee/tea and discount vouchers from their salons, cafe and partner merchants in Mandarin Gallery.

Space 4 Us

Tel: +65 8887 8802 (WhatsApp)

Address: 333A Orchard Road #02-22/23, S 238897