A humanitarian and telco engineer is bringing the DIY culture to jewellery in Malaysia.

Anna Lee  |  MY
Published 2015-11-27 11:42:53

Threading beads through a thin see-through wire brings me way back to my childhood days, where Christmas and birthday gifts would mean box sets of DIY jewellery consisting of everything my 11-year-old princess heart could ever desire.

However, where I would don poor quality plastic beads around my neck and pretend to walk around the room as if I were Princess Aurora, I’m pleasantly reminded of the good DIY days through DIYKL, a Malaysian DIY jewellery site. But this time around, fortunately, there are certainly no gaudy plastic beads in sight.

DIYKL is a do-it-yourself collective aimed to unleash a sense of inner creativity, where one can shop through their handpicked DIY kits, or purchase intricate rhinestones, as well as tools and supplies to create their very own unique-to-self piece. As the creators of DIYKL agree in unison, “Why buy when you can DIY?”

Brainchild Of Fanciful Minds

Image Credit: DIYKL Facebook page

The concept is the inspiration of two Malaysian ladies, Saran Mutang Tagal and Agnes Leong who each hold their own daytime jobs but pursue jewellery as their side career. Saran said, “I am legally trained, and currently I work as a humanitarian in an international humanitarian organisation in which I assist in the protection needs of those seeking refuge and asylum in this country.”

Agnes, on the other hand, shared that she is a telecommunications engineer at one of the largest companies in Malaysia. “Besides that, I’m also a freelance fashion photographer and web developer,” she added.

Oddly enough, this business of theirs is not related at all to their full-time jobs, but Saran shares that it is instead an innate passion of hers, as creating jewellery was something she had done since young (I knew we had something in common!).

Doing-It-Their-Way Jewellery

Image Credit: DIYKL Instagram page

Saran’s mother used to hand her trinkets from her own stash, and she would then take them apart and personalise them as her own.”When I was in university, I would customise and make my own jewellery as it was cheaper to do so. Soon, friends started noticing this, and would request for me to make jewellery for them. It seemed only natural, why not teach people to get crafty and make their own jewellery?” said Saran.

Agnes agreed that this business concept of theirs isn’t a new thing in the US and European countries, but locally, it is. In fact, the pair had always enjoyed the idea of do-it-yourself, but found it difficult to source for the supplies. As such, they decided that it was an untapped market in Malaysia and there has never been a more apt time than now to carve their way into the business.

Image Credit: DIYKL Facebook page

The pair generates income by selling their DIY jewellery kits and supplies as well as some limited ready-made pieces, which are only available offline. However, they also hold occasional workshops and make their presence known through events where potential customers get a chance to have a ‘look-and-feel’ of the items.

With this, they are able to further market themselves to those who may not have convenient access to the World Wide Web, such as the older generation and even the little ones.

One Rhinestone At A Time

Image Credit: DIYKL Instagram page
Image Credit: DIYKL Instagram page

Having conducted an estimated sales of at least RM10,000 thus far, the pair agree that the support has been amazing and they are truly blessed. They are barely a year old as a business, but both are humbled that they have been given many opportunities to make themselves known.

“Sales is all about putting the DIYKL brand out there, and we have been really fortunate to have the many opportunities such as at bazaars, artisan markets, DIY events and workshops. Being featured in magazines and interviewed on radio shows has also helped with our sales,” said Saran.

It is indeed a tireless effort that is achieved through extra time being put in, as Saran and Agnes only work on DIYKL during nights and weekends. Agnes notes that time management is key, as it does get very hectic, especially as there are only the two of them who are doing everything from sourcing supplies, designing new DIY kits, packing as well as shipping them.

Juggling Jewellery At The Side

Image Credit: DIYKL Instagram page

As such, Agnes is thankful that both their jobs allows for a work-life balance and has given them a chance to pursue their passion as well. Being their own entrepreneurs has taught both Saran and Agnes that this is a continuous learning process for them.

Saran said, “I am really fortunate to be surrounded by like-minded people who are also entrepreneurs and have their own startups. This gives me an insight into what it takes to build your own brand. It may not be easy, but the ride will be fun if you make it to be so!”

Agnes who also happens to be a web developer shares that there is an unwritten rule about online presence and if a brand is not on the first page of Google’s results, then they have failed in their branding and marketing. “Why? Because most people will not bother to click on ‘Next Page’. You would have already lost potential customers,” she added.

Image Credit: DIYKL

Hence with DIYKL, the pair has been able to harness their skills from the tech side of entrepreneurship to encourage people to learn how to Do-It-Yourself and get creative with their fashion.

It really is all in a day’s—or should I say, night’s—work for both Saran and Agnes and they are not looking to halt their success any time soon, with more collaborations in the works, as well as a plan to venture beyond women’s jewellery kits.

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