Familiar Faces

Interview by Caitlin de Laure
Photographs courtesy of Kith

It’s been a few years since we’ve spoken to Jane, and she’s undoubtedly been busy building her business. What began as a humble bistro at Robertson Quay has expanded to numerous outlets around the island. Focusing on quality before quantity, thorough and candidly down-to-earth, Jane dug deep in the early days to perfect each dish and cup of coffee, and managed to cultivate a culture of warmth and reciprocity with her customers. This laid substantial groundwork for the next few outlets such as the recently opened Kith Café at Millenia Walk. Despite her light-hearted demeanor, it’s clear that a strong conviction is driving Jane’s ambition for the Kith team. We speak to Jane about how success has shaped her and her ambition.

kith cafe singapore jane hia

Jane Hia, founder of Kith Café

If you hadn’t gone down this route, what might you be doing now?

I still don’t think I’ll be doing industrial design because I don’t think I have the patience for it. I would probably do something similar to this, like marketing or events. In fact, there’s a high chance that I would find my way back into F&B because I like to eat. (laughs)

When did your love for coffee transition into a desire to open a café?

I’ve always loved food, coffee and wine. When Jones the Grocer opened in Singapore, I think I was there every Saturday or Sunday to have coffee, which was about $3.60 for a latte-sized serving. Back then, the only alternatives were kopitiam coffee or Starbucks. So it was pretty clear that we could have a lot more $3.60 lattes, and that’s why I wanted to start a café. Also, I knew I couldn’t open a restaurant in the beginning because it’s just too difficult—I wouldn’t know enough, the set-up is massive, and the overheads are massive. So a café made sense.

Read more in The U Press N˚12 (Singapore edition).