The Projector’s Karen Tan Has A Deft Hand At Turning Old Things Into New

Every year, The Singapore Women’s Weekly shines the spotlight on 18 outstanding, high-achieving working women in the Great Women Of Our Time awards. These inspiring pioneers and game-changers are making an impact in different arenas in Singapore. In this series, we introduce the nominees in this year's awards. Here is the third nominee in the Design & Style category:

Karen Tan, 36, Founder of Pocket Projects

Karen Tan specialises in taking run down areas and redeveloping them into something attention catching and sustainable.

So, when she went to look at a derelict cinema on the fifth floor of a somewhat seedy building on Beach Road, she knew right away that she was looking at a diamond in the rough.

“It looked like it had so much potential,” Karen, who has a passion for bringing old things back to life, shares.

“So, my business partners and I decided to set out to re-invite people back to this once-popular space that had been forgotten, so that they could enjoy it again.”

While most entrepreneurs would run a mile away from what she was trying to do, the founder of design consultancy, Pocket Projects, was steadfast in her belief that she could transform old neighbourhoods into inclusive community-driven spaces.

Her vision for what was to come was in a similar vein to what she had already done with the Lorong 24A shophouses in Geylang and The Row in Kuala Lumpur.

She and her co-founders raised the funds to renovate the space through a crowd-funding drive, and put together an inventive business plan that featured multiple revenue streams.

This included renting the lobby out as a co-working space, and selling naming rights to the bottoms of cinema seats.