Germaine Lye | Our Barehands

Germaine is one of the Co-founders of Our Barehands - a label dedicated to growing alongside small-producing artisan communities around the world, creating lifestyle pieces that are versatile and skilfully handcrafted. Read on to learn how Germaine made the decision to start her business, and what she loves about her work.

1. What's your story?

Growing up, I never thought I would run a business. Before I chose what to study for my university degree, I thought I would be an interior designer or a social worker. But life has a way of making things more interesting.

I graduated with a degree in International Relations, and worked in the public service for a short while. I knew I always wanted to work with marginalised communities and when the opportunity presented itself to start a sustainable coffee business and support local communities in SEA, I went for it. In retrospect, the past work experience that I had that included some levels of business, helped build my foundation and understanding of the complexities of marginalised communities and how do we best enable them to be sustainable in the long-run.

2018 was a pivotal year where I left my corporate job running a philanthropic arm of a MNC and co-founded Our Barehands with two others, Chanel and Mitchell.

2. What’s the most satisfying part about what you do?
We get to have close and regular touch points with people who come from different backgrounds, cultures and those whom you may not necessarily meet if we were sitting behind our corporate desks on most parts of our work day.

The other satisfying part of my work is also the ability to merge both my loves for the social sector and the creative world - something that I’ve always wanted to do!

3. What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you move forward? 

There was a big project that we had to complete during the pandemic that was a big challenge for us. With an extremely tight deadline and the project being highly labour-intensive, coupled with the stringent gathering restrictions, we were on the verge of dropping the project midway. It seemed near impossible that we could complete it as each task took hours to complete. Thankfully, our entire community of artisans and volunteers rallied together and we eventually delivered the project. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to see this to the end.

4. What's the best piece of business advice you would like to share?

I don’t have one that I live by but through the various lessons that we’ve learnt, some of them would be:

Define what success means to you - someone else’s success might differ from yours, so don’t compare.

If you never try, you’ll never know. “Failure” is just a stepping stone. 

5. How has working with Harvest Accounting and using Xero impacted your business / life?

We started without an external accountant and bookkeeper at the start, but once we onboarded with Harvest Accounting and Xero, it has been a life changer for our business - we now have the freedom to grow the business while entrusting the bookkeeping to the experts.

6. Shameless plug for your business:

Barehands has opened our first physical store at Funan Mall (107 North Bridge Rd, 02-22, Singapore 179105). Do drop by to say hi if you’re round the corner, or visit us at to discover more about what we do.