The Rumah Bebe history begins in 1995 with a nyonya named Bebe Seet, who was
spurred on to learn the traditional Peranakan art of beading slippers when she could not get a pair of antique “kasut manek” (beaded slippers worn by the “nyonyas,” Peranakan women). As far back as the 1900s or even earlier, young “nyonyas” were required to be skillful in beading their own footwear. This form of art has been passed own from the past generation, from mothers to daughters. However, after the Second World War, interest in beaded slippers waned. Beading became a dying craft but Bebe managed to seek a friend’s mother who taught her the basic techniques. Bebe made much progress on her own, researching the history of beading done by the “nyonyas” of the past.
She started holding classes to share the joy of beading with others who are equally
passionate about the craft. In 1999, as the beading classes became popular, she set up
an independent boutique,” Bebe’s Niche” in Katong. The boutique specialised in beading
classes, but also retailed beaded slippers, handbags and embroidered kebayas. A year
later, she moved into bigger premises at Katong Village and then moved again in 2003.
The old 1928 shop house which Bebe chose as her next boutique was ideal – its run-
down state gave her scope to re-design. Today the tradition for exquisite, detailed and
expertly handcrafted work continues at Rumah Bebe, where Bebe, the true Peranakan
nyonya at heart, produces masterpieces of beadwork that is truly heart-warming to the
discerning connoisseurs of Peranakan arts. Her signature beaded shoes are always a
celebration of colours, textures and glamour.