Entrepreneur

She Left Her Engineering Job To Run A Biz In The Saturated M’sian Handmade Jewellery Scene

Author’s Blurb: Hand-making pieces of jewellery is something I’m sure every girl has tried in their lives before. I used to have a small playset that came with strings, plastic beads, and some charms to string together and make little friendship bracelets for my friends.

After graduating in 2012, Shirleen picked up a hobby in creating handmade jewellery.

It was only until the next year when she gained the confidence to sell them on her online store named after herself, Shirleen Jeweliciouss.

Editor’s Note: Parts of the above paragraph have been edited to reflect greater accuracy of the statement.

“Back then, I was an engineer and handmade jewellery was just something I did as a fun exploration during my free time,” she said. 

Getting hooked on the craft, she began to buy, hoard, and explore more materials as her ideas kept coming.

She eventually left her job in 2016 to grow the brand and focus on it full time.

“I think it’s my growing love of crafting jewellery, the steady income coming from this business, and my savings that defined the moment and triggered this decision,” she said.

Stringing The Biz Together

Some of Shirleen’s necklaces and earrings / Image Credit: Shirleen Jeweliciouss

Handmade jewellery is something I would usually come across pretty often. In every bazaar I’ve stumbled upon, at least one or two stores would be selling nifty trinkets.

I would hang around and browse the decorative knickknacks for a little while, chat with the salespeople, and usually walk away empty-handed.

But that’s usually because of how pricey each tiny item can cost.

Shirleen Jeweliciouss was created to provide Malaysians with graceful fashion accessories at an affordable price.

All her jewelleries are priced below RM100, where necklaces are priced between RM35 to RM98; earrings are between RM20 to RM60.

Other small-time handmade jewellery brands like Poppylab and Shedazzles price their necklaces between RM49 to RM213 and their earrings from RM38 to RM99.

It’s safe to say that Shirleen’s offerings are on the more affordable end. However, these prices may also depend on the materials used in the accessories, but more on that later.

Despite her lower price points, the biggest struggle she faced when first starting out was gaining the trust of customers. 

Penetrating this saturated market of fast-moving consumer goods wasn’t easy. She needed to convince them to buy her products.

Hence, she decided to build a social media presence to share her work. This gradually helped her to connect with more customers.

The flower hair chopsticks and DIY Mother’s Day kits / Image Credit: Shirleen Jeweliciouss

This online presence also attracted the attention of the Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, who reached out to her with the request of making door gifts for their private event in 2016.

“I was requested to prepare 117 pieces of flower hair chopsticks for their Japanese themed events,” she said.

The adrenaline rush to get all orders ready by the deadline was a rewarding one, especially when receiving positive feedback from her clients.

She has also been contracted by Setia Eco Templer’s Mother’s Day event to prepare DIY sets for kids to create jewelleries for their mothers.

Reinvesting Profits On Supplies

Shirleen’s designs feature plenty of trinkets like crystals, gemstones, Swarovski stones, charms, and clay flowers.

These materials, she said, are derived over years of hoarding along her crafting journey. 

Despite seeing an increase in revenue and customers last year, she tends to reinvest most of her profits into getting new and more materials, which she buys in bulk to keep costs low.

“I guess crafters out there can relate with this, it’s never enough and we always feel like we need more materials to create better pieces for our customers,” she said. 

But sometimes, materials can be the source of inspiration for her new collections too.

Being a solopreneur, Shirleen single-handedly manages all the ins and outs of her business. 

Shirleen carefully putting together her products / Image Credit: Shirleen Jeweliciouss

“Time management is the key to handling large volume orders which means sacrificing sleep,” she said.

She has the support of her husband and relentless passion for crafting to thank as the avenues that have kept her motivated till this day. 

“I never feel tired and enjoy the satisfaction when my designs are sold and appreciated,” said Shirleen.

As the products are exclusively sold online for now, her long term goal for the business would be to eventually expand and form a team to help her out. 

She also hopes to own a shop for Shirleen Jeweliciouss one day.

For now, she’s focused on achieving work-life balance.

“I have been taking care of my 4-month-old daughter by myself, while keeping my business running,” she said.

Though balancing her work and being a mother comes with its challenges, she still expressed her gratitude for being able to do what she loves for a living.

Bottom Line: I’ve always seen jewellery as a simple yet thoughtful gift for my female friends. It covers great grounds as a simple gift; it can represent sentimental value, attractiveness, and practical use. Plus points if you can come up with a touching story as to why you chose a particular piece too.

  • You can learn more about Shirleen Jeweliciouss here.
  • You can read about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Shirleen, founder of Shirleen Jeweliciouss

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