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How This Artsy M'sian Couple Crafted A Successful Business After Their First Failure

  • Craftiviti was set up to bring great quality craft materials to soap makers, candle makers, clay crafters, jewellery designers, cosplayers and everyone who wants to create arts and crafts.
  • Craftiviti not only sells supplies for arts and crafts but also offer workshops on making epoxy resin, soap making, candle making, formulating handcrafted skincare, batik painting and plaster casting.

For some, arts and craft is left behind once you’re out of school. For others, it becomes a joy and a lifelong hobby. For others, thanks to the rise of platforms like Etsy, it can even become a source of livelihood.

Wanting to reach anyone and everyone who had even just an interest in arts and craft, Craftiviti was established in 2015 by Wei Yein and her husband Eugene to be the first-choice of craft source and experience.

Every Artist Was First An Amateur

Image Credit: Craftiviti

Wei Yein, being a self-proclaimed introvert, enjoyed expressing herself through handmade jewellery and had an online store selling her designs called Trinxx. It was through her experience as a local jewellery designer that Wei Yein discovered how difficult it was to source for good craft materials and tools locally.

“We have been running an events and marketing company for 5 years when we thought it would be a good idea to place our eggs in different baskets,” said Wei Yein.

“An opportunity came about with a business partner who has had experience in the craft industry, and we set up an outlet providing a wide range of craft supplies.”

However, things didn’t go as planned and the partnership didn’t work out. “We then had to build Craftiviti from scratch with only love for craft but very little knowledge of the industry,” Wei Yein added.

Arts And Crafts Is For Anyone And Everyone

Image Credit: Craftiviti Facebook

“Our customers range from kids, private schools, hobbyists, housewives and right up to small businesses,” said Wei Yein.

She notes that everyone starts arts and crafts as just a hobby but once they progress, they discover the potential of earning money with their craft.

“This happens to a lot of our customers. They start out as beginners and soon they are making a good profit from their passion. A lot of our customers now have their own soap and candle business, or they make extra income from many other crafts,” she added.

Wei Yein even gave an example of a housewife who came in one day and bought a 500 ml soap base to make some homemade soaps for her kids. As time passed, she came back and bought 1 kg, then 25 kg and then she now purchases 500 kg from Craftiviti weekly.

Another one of their regular customers is a young 8-year-old entrepreneur who makes slime to sell on her Instagram account.

This goes to show that anyone of any age can do art and even make money out of it.

Creating Wonders

“One of our major milestones was our 100% growth year on year and this is based mainly on word of mouth. We never thought that would happen so soon. It must mean we are doing something right, isn’t it?”

In the early days, the team would cheer whenever a customer rang our door bell because some days the bell didn’t ring at all.

“Today, customers stream through our doors at all hours. Some even fly in from Borneo and Indonesia to visit us,” Wei Yein added.

Local brands and suppliers also now approach them instead of the other way around. “We remember the times where we would knock on doors and no one would sell to us because they didn’t know who we were,” she said.

The Art Of Fixing Things

Things wasn’t that easy back then as they had to start Craftiviti without any retail experience or mentorship.

“Our earlier challenges included getting the public to recognise us and suppliers to trust us. Also building a brand and monitoring cash flow was a major challenge considering we had zero name in the game and no background in trading and retail,” Wei Yein added.

However, nowadays they face a different challenge—balancing quality and price. She finds it hard to negotiate for a lower pricing from suppliers as they are a young local company without the bulk buying power.

“However, we don’t believe in price wars because corners will be cut and that’s not how we do things. We choose to work on quality and experience instead.”

She gave an example of how they focus on quality by shipping their waxes from USA with all necessary documents to show that the waxes are safe for burning and contain no toxic materials.

Painting The Bigger Picture

The Craftiviti Store / Image Credit: Craftiviti Facebook

Wei Yein hopes that people don’t take up arts and crafts to make money, as it needs to start with passion. She stated that it often starts as a hobby that, if done right, turns into a very fulfilling career.

“We personally know local soap makers who now have their own boutiques and some of our candle makers and product designers are featured in Tatler and The Edge.”

On her plans for the future she still wants to keep it as it is as she wants to focus on the local scene.

“We love the idea of overseas but at the moment, we are focusing on our local crafters,” Wei Yein said.

Although they would like to have more stores around Malaysia as shopping malls do contact them, however that’s not in the works at the moment.

“A lot of people judge the force of a company through the number of branches it has.”

“However, we envision just one more store in the future. The logistics, stocking and overheads are a huge challenge. If our products can sell online, all we really need is a really kickass online store and plenty of great communications,” she added.

“Also who knows? We may venture delivering overseas if we can find a great logistics partner. There is no stopping us from being local yet going global.”

  • To find out more about the products that Craftiviti offers, check out their website here.

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