- Wanderlust + Co is a Malaysian-based brand that is seen on international celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Selena Gomez.
- The brand started in Melbourne, but Jenn moved it back to Malaysia and had to rebuild from scratch.
- Since then, the brand has become a presence on USA media and influencers, and Wanderlust + Co sees 70% of their revenue from the USA market.
When Jenn Low began the Wanderlust + Co in the bedroom of her Melbourne apartment, she had approximately RM10,000 of startup money and a makeshift lightbox made of cardboard to photograph her designs with.
She had left her accounting job to pursue her jewellery passion full-time.
Before the rise of the Instafamous or the prevalence of online shopping eight years ago, Jenn set up a website on WordPress, and did everything by herself—even the graphic design.
Through her efforts, Jenn’s Wanderlust + Co jewellery has been spotted on the likes of Kendall Jenner, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, and similar influential names that jumpstarted the brand’s rise to fame.
“With Wanderlust + Co, I’ve never worked harder in my life, and that’s simply the truth,” said Jenn.
But personal reasons made her start all over again.
“I was in a long distance relationship with my now husband. He’s Australian, living in Malaysia, and I was Malaysian, living in Australia!”
Despite already setting up the beginnings of a sustainable business in Melbourne, this Malaysian packed her bags and moved back to start it all over again—with a brand new team and a brand new supply chain process.
This was one year into the brand’s inception.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is to have the right support system as well as to practice open communication,” said Jenn.
“In my early days of business, I recall periods where my entire family, even my grandma, was helping to pack jewellery pieces for Christmas orders! We made it fun with music and snacks!”
As it happens, it was after this move that Wanderlust + Co struck gold.
“The intention was always to create a global digital jewellery brand. With that in mind, I realised that it wasn’t about doing everything, but it was about doing the things that mattered.”
To get the ball rolling, Jenn sought out partnerships with key stylists in the USA, with media, and put diligent effort into getting her pieces onto influencers and what she calls “IT-girls”, all in a bid to elevate the brand’s image.
In anticipation of an “arm party” held by an influencer Leandra Medine who authors the blog The Man Repeller, Jenn tried sending over some of her favourite Wanderlust + Co party pieces to try her luck.
Leandra ended up wearing them and eventually wrote about them on The Man Repeller. The momentum led to another feature in TimeOut New York, and another by Eva Chen from Teen Vogue.
Now, 70% of Wanderlust + Co’s business comes from the USA, and they are stocked in more than 400 stores globally. On top of that, their website sales and traffic grew six times in early 2017, and their wholesale business keeps growing four times year-on-year.
“It was definitely daunting when I decided to move, but here we are today!” said Jenn.
“For me personally, it’s incredibly motivating to receive feedback from local customers, media and influencers alike, who say they can’t believe that Wanderlust + Co calls Malaysia its home.”
It’s this mix of idealism and realism that propelled the brand to its international standing.
“Moving back has also given us the opportunity to support other Malaysian brands and entrepreneurs because it benefits the industry if we uplift one another,” said Jenn.
“One of the most common assumptions that people make about fashion or the success of a collection is that it all boils down to the design.”
“While design is incredibly crucial, production and the entire process around manufacturing is also key to executing a successful collection. After all, we can create the best design but without the ability and technical skills to manufacture, the pieces will remain only as drawings.”
Therefore, Jenn is involved in the whole process from the moodboard all the way to the markdown prices, despite heading a modest team in their Kuala Lumpur office.
Each line is designed based on current trends or the muse, but also takes more pragmatic considerations like the range’s size, price, and how many SKUs they need to look at to close out a capsule.
Besides helping them keep to their vision, being involved throughout the process helps them keep prices down as well in a bid to ensure that their products are affordable.
The Wanderlust + Co marketing team then plugs an inspirational message around the collections, which Jenn considers integral to their brand DNA.
The message behind the brand needs to be authentic and something that Jenn can stand behind, but she also believes in reinventing your message with the times.
“We pick a muse and energy for our girl every season, and set out to share the new season story and collection with our customers—our genuine voice and intuition-driven messaging sets us apart.”
Their future now lies in pop up stores.
With a newly minted partnerhip with Luxasia, Wanderlust + Co wants to stake a mark back home as well in the SEA market.
They’ve also launched their first pop up store in Manila, Philippines, with a KL one coming next.
“My vision is to continue to grow our retail and wholesale presence via pop-up store initiatives, and distribution partnerships across the world.”
“All of this to continue moving forward to grow our reach, and be true to our vision of being the first Southeast Asian high-street jewellery lifestyle brand to go global.”
- To check out more Wanderlust + Co products, you can browse their shop here.