After graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration, Chase Woo, filled with youthful optimism, sought the guidance of a feng shui master to unravel the mysteries of his future. To his surprise, he was told that he wasn’t cut out for business. Surprise turned to dismay as subsequent feng shui masters — to which he admits there were “a lot of them” — declared the same thing.
Determined to understand this unanimous discouragement, Woo embarked on a quest to study the nuances of Chinese metaphysics. After analysing his birth chart and the strengths and weaknesses it revealed about his personality, he realised the feng shui masters weren’t entirely wrong, but they all missed one important point: that businesses aren’t run by a single person but by a team.
“So instead of wallowing, I set out to build teams that would complement my weaknesses,” he shares, recounting his decision to join H2 Hub, his family’s watch and jewellery retail business. Over the ensuing years, he successfully helped launch and manage two original brands for H2 Hub — Aries Gold and Wulf Swiss Made — but his passion for Chinese astrology never waned.
A chance encounter
As fate (or happenstance) would have it, in 2018, Daryl Koh entered his life, offering performance marketing services for H2 Hub’s e-commerce platform. Little did they know that one cold email would eventually pave the way for the establishment of one of Singapore’s most fascinating new jewellery brands, Hoseiki.
“I was running ads for Chase’s family business, but watching all my clients do well made me want to do something in the same space,” recalls Koh. Over the course of their first working relationship, the two became fast friends, and when Woo floated the idea of starting a business related to Chinese metaphysics, Koh jumped at the chance.
The inspiration took root during Koh’s visit to Kyoto when monks from a temple where he was staying blessed his pixiu (a mythical hybrid creature from Chinese mythology) bracelet. This experience began to crystallise the concept of a traditional Chinese jewellery brand, ultimately leading to the launch of Hoseiki in 2020. The name, derived from “houseki”, the Japanese word for gemstone, encapsulates the essence of their vision.
A 2022 survey conducted by the Singapore Jewellers Association revealed that 60 per cent of millennials in Singapore expressed an interest in traditional Chinese jewellery, surprisingly outpacing that of Gen Xers (50 per cent) and boomers (40 per cent). But even before the pair was cognisant of such a trend, Koh was adamant that Hoseiki’s pieces had to look modern.
Incorporating Koh’s creative direction with Woo’s expertise as a feng shui master, Hoseiki established a distinctive value proposition of offering free Ba Zi (an ancient Chinese method of divination) and numerology readings delivered via Whatsapp to help customers choose which bracelets are tailored to their individual needs. Since the brand’s inception, Woo has conducted approximately 5,000 readings through Hoseiki’s website.
“Many think we’re just interested in metaphysics, but what we’re actually interested in is people.” – Chase Woo, Founder of Hoseiki
Many of the stones, which are sourced from China, Nepal, and India by Woo’s gemologist wife, are believed to have specific qualities that will boost everything from luck to inner peace. For instance, kunzite dispels negativity, while white nephrite jade promotes purity and protection, but Koh ensures the mix of beads not only fits the metaphysical theme and intent but is also aesthetically harmonious.
“If your grandmother got you a protective charm from a temple, it’s going to look very ‘suss’ in a workplace setting,” quips Woo. “If I saw a financial consultant wearing some weird accessory on their hand, I’d be thinking they were either a loan shark or a part-time medium. The image is a little off.”
Hoseiki also differentiates itself from competitors offering tacky novelty bracelets with collections adorned with 24K gold ornaments and precious stones like sapphires and diamonds. Although Hoseiki primarily caters to individuals aged 35 to 45, Koh is currently in the process of crafting a new minimalist collection that incorporates red strings in place of beads, aimed at capturing the attention of the Gen Z demographic, and is set to launch by the end of the year.
Journey of self-discovery
Woo believes millennials are particularly keen on Hoseiki and its services because many are in the middle stages of their lives and have questions about the direction they should take next. “There are businesses out there that help you find out about your ancestry, and this shows that people are very interested in finding out more about themselves, but that’s just one aspect. So you find out your ancestor came from Guangzhou — what are you going to do with that information? At least with numerology, you can find out what numbers are missing in your life, why you’re always facing certain types of issues, and how to better understand yourself and those around you. Many think we’re just interested in metaphysics, but what we’re actually interested in is people.”
This growing curiosity surrounding mystical self-discovery has quickly expanded Hoseiki’s offerings to include feng shui-inspired homeware like gemstone trees and pixiu statuettes, as well as services such as more comprehensive one-on-one readings, auspicious date selections, car plate number selections, and more.
Currently, their objective is to penetrate the United States and Australian markets, aiming to serve the Asian diaspora, which may not have convenient access to traditional Chinese jewellery or guidance on feng shui. While Hoseiki maintains physical stores in Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok, there are no immediate plans to establish one in Singapore due to the substantial operational expenses. Instead, select jewellery pieces are showcased at H2 Hub’s outlets in Century Square and Nex, as well as at Hoseiki’s office located in Bedok Industrial Park. “I know our showroom is not very accessible, but the clients who are interested are highly motivated and will come all the way to Bedok just to get their feng shui questions answered,” shares Woo.
Connecting with customers in this way has been an “unexpected surprise” for the both of them. “We get to meet a lot of like-minded people, and they’re all really nice,” gushes Koh. Remarkably, one customer even transitioned into Woo’s apprentice, lending a hand with readings when his schedule is particularly tight. Says Woo: “What started out as a jewellery business is becoming a community, and it’s been really fun.”