Author’s Blurb: Picking up painting as a hobby can be rewarding if you’re good at it. Because I was unskilled at it, I found myself to be more frustrated with how unsatisfactory my paintings turn out most of the time.
But that’s not necessarily the case for everyone.
Unlike a lot of skills, painting can actually offer relatively more relaxation which incentivises people to pick it up as a hobby.
Summer Chong, the founder of MeTime Art Malaysia, shares a similar sentiment towards painting.
“Personally, I love painting. I had happy moments in painting when I was in primary school. My mother inspired me a lot in painting.”
“However, my talent in painting was slowly fading away when I grew up and got busy with work,” Summer said.
She had been working as an HR Manager in a hair products retail company for 7 years then, and led a hectic lifestyle.
Painting provided her with healing and value.
One day, Summer and her cousin came across some paint-by-number kits and their joy for painting was immediately rekindled.
At the time, she had also been seeking opportunities for a startup and after some research, she decided to venture into this business with her cousin in 2018.
Standing Out Amongst Their Competitors
Since painting by numbers hasn’t penetrated the Malaysian market fully, MeTime isn’t in direct competition with any international brands as they are currently focusing on the local market.
Summer shared 4 strategies that MeTime employs to stand out among its competitors:
- Offering a one-to-one replacement of acrylic paint via a 3-month warranty to solve the problem of dried-up paint. Should the purchase exceed 3 months, they provide the colour replacement at RM2 per pot.
- Coming up with new paint designs every month.
- Making themselves more accessible than others via their after-sales support (which is by default since they’re a local brand).
- Providing double sets of colours in MeTime Art’s kits, which they claim is not practiced by other sellers.
That being said, the international market does serve as inspiration for their marketing strategies.
Aside from that, MeTime also started off their design and production by outsourcing overseas manufacturers.
Given the abundance of ready-made designs by overseas manufacturers, Summer thought it was more economic to work with a third-party producer in China.
However, Summer sees the importance of incorporating a local touch to their designs.
She is currently collaborating with a local design house to produce in-house designs for MeTime featuring local arts.
Their Business By Numbers
Their paintings are categorised into:
- 40cm x 50cm, which is RM75 for a classic and RM95 for a premium painting;
- 20cm x 20cm, their bestseller thus far, which is RM20 for a small painting;
- 60cm x 120cm, their larger paintings which range from RM180 to RM220.
On average, MeTime sells around 300 pieces of 40×50 paintings and 800 pieces of 20×20 paintings monthly.
They have a minimum revenue of RM30,000 per month, of which is profitable at a moderate margin.
As they’ve reached their second year in 2020, they already sold more than 19,000 pieces by July, 60% of which are from their 20cm x 20cm small kits.
Working Smart And Moving Online
Their biggest challenge currently is time sensitivity with their inventory management.
Since acrylic paint has an inflexible lifespan, they need to be able to produce and sell their products within 3 months to ensure that the paint is still fresh.
Over the course of 2 years, they were able to gauge their peak and low seasons better to adjust their stock accordingly.
MeTime started out as an offline business, with their HQ located at Desa Kompleks Kepong.
They’re also partnering with some agents to sell their products in weekend bazaars and art markets in Publika and Arkadia Desa Park City.
“We provide the resources they need to set up a physical booth and we share the profit with them. We have an average of 2 to 3 booths every week at different locations,” Summer said.
MeTime has also had ample opportunities to showcase its products in roadshows and workshops in shopping malls around the city.
One of these opportunities include an invitation by Maxis to showcase their products in their corporate employee engagement event.
Currently, and especially with the pandemic, MeTime is focusing on expanding their online presence and development.
They’re also looking to expand their products beyond the brush and canvas, such as arts and crafts or painting on clay.
Ultimately, Summer’s dream is to incorporate painting-by-numbers in a cafe.
“It is a space that provides the public a cosy, comfortable, undisturbed environment for their me-time. At this place, everyone can enjoy their me-time of painting-by-numbers or bonding time with friends and family.”
Bottom line: I guess someone proved me wrong on how painting as a hobby can still be rewarding in spite of your skill. On top of that, being able to hang your painting on the wall adds more satisfaction to the hobby. I guess the only thing I’d have to deal with is that probably ten other people are hanging the same painting on their walls.
Featured Image Credit: Summer Chong, Founder of MeTime Art Malaysia