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Poly students run fashion shop at Changi Airport

Shop allows students to apply what they learn in class

Published on Sep 21, 2011 8:40 PM

This article first appeared in The New Paper on Sept 21, 2011.

The new shop will give the polytechnic students a chance to earn as they learn.

Not money, but academic grades.

Singapore Polytechnic (SP) students will now have a chance to practise what they’ve learnt in class.

A pioneer batch of 100 students have been selected to assume different roles, according to their diplomas, at a lifestyle fashion shop which has just opened at Changi Airport’s Terminal 3.

The shop, called Spell – short for Singapore Polytechnic Entrepreneurship Living Lab – sells lifestyle fashion items like clothes and accessories.

This is the first time a school or poly has set up a shop at Changi Airport for such a purpose.

The 600 sq ft store, which officially opened last Saturday, is a collaborative effort between SP and Changi Airport Group (CAG).
It took six months to get the shop from concept to reality.

One of the students who will be working at the shop is Miss Kim Khai Woon, 18, who is doing the entrepreneurship module of her Diploma in Business and Information Technology at SP.

She said: “I will get to apply all the things from the textbooks to a real-life situation.”

Ms Dora Ho, 59, the manager from the entrepreneurship/HR section at SP Business School, said the store will bring the real world into the classroom and vice versa.

“Spell is not just another retail outlet, but one that will serve as an off-campus real-world learning studio for SP students,” she said.
A CAG spokesman said: “We are very happy to partner Singapore Polytechnic on this project to provide a real-life business setting for the students to put into practice what they have learnt in school.”

Miss Kim said she would be spending a total of “440 hours for the whole school semester” at the store, during which she will be assessed by the school.

She will be at the store outside of curriculum time.

The time required to be spent at Spell for students vary, as different diplomas have different requirements.

Some students may be required to spend 60 hours over 15 weeks while others may have to spend 110 hours over the same period.

Their graded performance takes up a sizeable percentage of their modular grade, but also varies from diploma to diploma.

Mr Gavin Ting, 19, a graduate from SP, is a full-time business development executive at the store.

He handled day-to-day operations during the initial stages, which involved the conceptualisation of the store and managing goods. He was also involved with helping the students by guiding them along the way.

Mr Ting graduated with a Diploma in Business Administration, and is waiting to do national service.

He said of lending his experience at the store: “It is essentially an opportunity to turn my book knowledge into something practical.”

Own branding

Spell sells its items under its own brand, Verve Avenue.

Miss Eileen Lim, 19, a student from SP’s Diploma in Business Administration, was part of a group of five students who helped to source for the items sold at Spell.

Most of the goods were sourced from various parts of Asia.

“I got to choose the products, colours and sizes,” she said.

Miss Lim has had some experience in the retail industry, having worked at Mini Toons during the Christmas period three years ago.
She believes that she would be able to “better handle customers” because of the experience.

Most of the students involved had volunteered to be part of this initiative.

They were then chosen through interviews.

Said Miss Kim: “I want to start my own business in the future. I am doing this to avoid making mistakes when I start my venture.”
Mr Ting, on the other hand, had volunteered to work at the shop before he graduated.

He wanted to do this for experience, and to interact with and mentor his juniors. He is paid a salary.

A spokesman for CAG said the project is part of its initiative to give back to the community.