Louise Hill, Owner of Louise Hill Design
“I like to think conceptually and work methodically without cutting corners, and I enjoy problem-solving,” shares Louise Hill, owner of Louise Hill Design – and our Small-But-Mighty Award winner for 2021. The award is given by The Finder team to a top-scoring Expatpreneur Award nominee who has achieved success, often against the odds or with little outside help (Louise, for example, has zero full-time staff).
Her works reflect her journey and observations as a foreigner in different Asian countries. Each limited-edition, archival-quality print incorporates hundreds of photos Louise has taken – of iconic structures and scenes, beautiful textiles and smile inducing tchotchkes – and involves hours of digital manipulation to create a wholly unique piece of art.
“Many clients have crossovers between these countries and enjoy buying my works as mementos of where they have lived as expats,” says Louise, who works out of a studio and gallery she opened in early 2019, when she’s not working from home. “Many locals buy my works because they enjoy my nostalgic take on their country.”
She actually launched her namesake brand in 2013 in Hong Kong, where she was living with her husband, Ryan, and now 15-year-old twin boys, Ezra and Jude. Though she had spent 15 years working in graphic design back in London – specialising in packaging design for brands such as Marks & Spencer and Crabtree & Evelyn – she found herself with an opportunity to do something for herself, as a trailing partner.
“I knew my business would have to be portable, in case we moved again,” says Louise, whose family did indeed move to Singapore in 2014 (prior to Hong Kong, they stayed in Shanghai). Since beginning the brand, Louise says she has sought out printers, suppliers and retailers who are “proud of what they do”.
Certainly, she leads by example. “I am very passionate about my work, and I think I bring a unique style to my brand, which is purely my own.” Her passion has translated into profits: Online sales of her graphic prints doubled in 2020, and she has done collaborations with brands including Temple Candles and Darsala Paris, which created chic, statement-making handbags featuring some of Louise’s popular Singapore-themed prints.
But she credits support from women like herself for at least some of her success. “I have been part of expat support groups in Shanghai, Hong Kong and now Singapore, and have always enjoyed that feeling of community and female entrepreneurship,” says Louise.
Started in 2017 by The Finder, the Expatpreneur Awards are intended to honour hard-working, successful, community-minded foreign-born business owners in Singapore. All winners must exhibit how their businesses help people “live well in Singapore” – The Finder’s own mission. This year, marks the fifth annual awards. Find out more here.
By Derrick Tan