In this instalment of #MovingForwardwithVenuerific, we are honoured to be joined by Hillary Tjioe from MM Galleri. Hillary is the Director of MM Galleri, the largest natural stone supplier in Southeast Asia. The innovative company has also invented the ground-breaking marble bending technique.
This #ladyboss takes on the challenge to continue her family legacy and is not afraid to try on new innovations to build MM Galleri’s digital presence. Her out-of-the-box thinking has also helped adding additional revenue channel for the company, including this one-of-a-kind marble cave venue in Singapore.
Credit: MM Galleri
You can also enjoy the full interview in video format:
Tell us about yourself!
Hi Cynthia, thanks for inviting. Hi everyone! My name is Hillary. I’m the director of MM Galleri, a Southeast Asian-based natural stone company. So, we were established in 1992 and have worked on projects all over the world. Recently, we have also won an international award in the US. So that’s called the Oscars for natural stones. We’re actually one of the few Asian companies that managed to get it.
So we’ve also worked with quite a few high-end clients like Hilton, Como, Shangri-La, Christian Dior. And even high-end furniture players like Gloster, Janus Et Cie, et cetera. We’ve also worked with world-class designers before like Phillipe Starcke, Patricia Urquiola, Yuji Yamazaki, Champalimaud from New York and others.
What is your current role as a Director in MM Galleri?
Currently I’m overseeing the Singapore Office of MM Galleri, where we’re focusing more towards sales and marketing to advertise our products all over the world.
Singapore is a very incredible location right. All the MNCs are opening their offices here. It’s much more ‘internationalised’ and contains multiple cultures and religions. So it’s a very diverse culture. That’s why we’re here. To explore more.
Can you share the story behind your venue?
MM Galleri is an Indonesian company, but we’ve been doing projects all over the world. We decided we needed a global headquarters, and wanted to base it here in Singapore. Where it’s basically our second home.
So, we invented this technique called the Bended Marble Technology in 2017, after six years of research and development. We wanted to do a global showcase with this new technique because it’s completely groundbreaking. Nobody’s ever done this before. We decided “let’s open it in Singapore” and have a showcase of a bended marble cave that is based on an underwater cave concept.
You’ll have your corals in there. We’ll have your jellyfish. So nowadays you don’t even have to carve out an entire block anymore to create something like a sculpture and stuff and it also reduces mine exploitation and makes it much more affordable to do more stuff with natural stone basically.
So moving on, how did you adopted this showroom to make it an event space as well. What made you decide to take this kind of direction?
So, basically, as a showroom owner, we’re used to having a local and international visitors from all over the world right because MM Galleri is a very international company. So we get clients from the US, from Europe, from Indonesia as well. Like just flying in and out all the time, but we realised that there’s not much foot traffic. And after spending so much time and effort making the showroom, we find it a bit of a waste if you don’t have people visiting and see how beautiful it is.
So we decided why not, you know, try to rent it out as an event venue, so that you can generate extra revenue as well as getting more foot traffic so that people can see the stuff that we created.
So that’s how I was looking for a few vendors who can help me promote my event space and I found Venuerific online, which is amazing!
Prior to the pandemic, when you were hosting more events, what are clienteles you have in your event space?
Prior to the pandemic I had multiple clients like Daniel Wellington. They did a whole new product launch there with all the influencers and all that. It was one of the best dream-come-true for me because I didn’t expect to attract this kind of clientele.
Credit: Daniel wellington
We also had the Singapore Chinese Musical Association. So they had their yearly performance there with the flutes everything. They really liked the cave because it has that ‘echo’ effect. We did have quite a bit of offers for wedding solemnisations too.
What is the most challenging aspect of running your business, especially during this difficult time and what did you learn from it?
Basically in terms of my main business and construction right. Normally, we’re used to doing everything face to face because constructions require details. You have to discuss the drawings, the sides and decide like what phases are that, and all that. So, basically the whole event and construction industry was shut down during the circuit breaker. And then, all those you know, all the COVID-19 safety measures made it really difficult for people to visit my showroom or even discuss things. We have to bring everything online. So I couldn’t really generate any revenue from events during this period, obviously.
Construction wise, the same, we still have a lot of restrictions going on in Phase 2, but hopefully Phase 3 will be more open. But for now, what I did during the circuit breaker was that I got to do a virtual 360 scan for my showroom, so I could put it online. So I’ve been sharing that link of my virtual showroom all over. To all my potential visitors, clients and my international buddies who come in all the time.
Wow, it seems like you really took on that digital transformation during this time.
Yes, and also even before COVID, my showroom had a limit of about 100 people. Now we’re putting a limit of 50 people and we want to make sure that everybody maintain a safe distance and you must wear a mask when you come in because it’s a requirement for everybody right? We put up our safe entry and we sanitise our furniture before anybody comes to visit.
So, we’re also really glad that we’re on Venuerific because now they have the PSG grant whereby you can get up to 98% coverage, just for listing your venue on the site.
We’re happy that Venuerific has gotten the PSG approval. We’re also really glad that Venuerific tells us all the safe distancing measures that we need to follow and that they’re featuring some of their venues like MM Galleri and Chun Tsubaki, I think from the previous interview. So, we‘re really glad that they’re pushing us forward because we really need the help.
What would be your one piece of advice to someone starting a business or managing a business?
My advice would be that you would have to work hard and work smart in this environment. Always update yourself on the latest trends and technology in your industry. Everything’s going on digital, so you always have to find new ways to adapt and always stay hungry, and to always keep an open mind.
About MM Galleri
Established in 1992, MM Galleri is the largest natural stone (marble, granite, travertine, onyx, etc) supplier in Southeast Asia. It has won numerous international awards including 2018’s Pinnacle Award by Natural Stone Institute, an annual awards program that is considered globally as the Oscars of the Natural Stone industry. The company was also the first to invent the bended marble technique in 2017. The technique was later used to build the marble cave showroom in Singapore, which now doubles as an event venue. To view more details and send inquiries to MM Galleri, click here.
Venuerific lists more than 3,000 venues across Southeast Asia and provides an all-in-one Venue Management CRM Software for venue operators. The platform is also a pre-approved ICM vendor under IMDA SME GO digital programme in Singapore, a scheme that identifies Digital solutions to help small and medium businesses to transform and optimise their productivity through the use of Digital technology. The scheme also allow businesses to get up to 98%* support fund through the Productivity Solutions Grant and Skillsfuture Enterprise Credit. Visit this Page to find out how you can benefit by listing your venue on Venuerific.