When it comes to setting up an event like a wedding, one of the bigger priorities on most people’s minds would be the venue.
After settling on a venue, they then have to set the scene, and that’s where props come in. They can range from extravagant floral arrangements to vintage table centrepieces to suit the theme, or even full-blown furniture like sofas and wooden arches that make for aesthetic photos.
But for many, there’s always a compromise between needs, wants, and costs.
Nawal Yasmin recalls her wedding day when she struggled to find decor that could fit her budget. She remembered looking at a beautiful tray (dulang) which would’ve cost around RM200 each. For her Malay wedding, she needed 12-16 units.
Wishing there was a business renting out such items, she then launched Something Borrowed By Nawal (SBBN) in June 2011.
“Now SBBN customers can rent the same dulang for only RM30-RM40 each!” Nawal told Vulcan Post, pointing out the value of her business.
Setting up shop
In its early days, SBBN was run from her family home.
One small room was allocated as her makeshift warehouse to rent out wedding items at first. Demand grew as time went by, so Nawal and her partner moved to another house to bring in more props from China.
By 2016, the business expanded as its stock increased. Nawal was able to operate from a shop in Cyberjaya located on the ground floor.
The kinds of props you can rent at SBBN range from items including wedding trays, Chiavari chairs, cylinder vases, carpets, hanging lanterns, centrepieces, as well as wedding crowns and veils.
“Then we decided that we wanted to become the biggest rental provider in Malaysia so we looked for investors from family and friends,” said Nawal. With the funding, they expanded their inventory again and moved to a three-storey warehouse in Cyberjaya.
The kinds of props also evolved to accommodate not only weddings, but also office functions, baby showers, various photoshoots, and birthday celebrations.
Nawal shared that some of her more out-of-the-ordinary clients have come from one customer who transported SBBN props to Paris for a pre-wedding photoshoot.
Despite SBBN’s steady growth over the years, Nawal was forced to downscale when the pandemic hit, but not too drastically. In 2020, they moved SBBN to a two-storey shop in Kajang to reduce the high commitment of business costs.
“And this year (2022), we managed to bring back our shop to Cyberjaya but on a smaller scale,” added Nawal, who was simply grateful to have survived the pandemic.
If you can’t buy it, rent it
At present, Nawal claimed that SBBN carries a rough 300 products with more than 2,000 quantities of each item.
For a business conducting rental functions, one would imagine that the biggest operational challenge would come from managing the inventory.
To keep track of the warehouse’s merchandise, Nawal shared that she uses a system called Booqble. The team also conducts monthly stocktakes to check on the inventory.
Nawal reportedly prices SBBN’s rental items about three to five times lower than their regular prices too, and her claims seem to hold water.
Of course, those renting from SBBN should prepare to fork out a RM200 security deposit. The fee covers any damages or missing items upon returning them after the rental period, which is a week.
If items are returned on time in good condition, the full amount will be refunded. But, if damages or lost items exceed RM200, customers will have to top up the amount. There is also a 50% deposit to book items in advance. Those who require delivery services can also make a request for a fee.
Mix and match to fit your creativity
Nawal’s company, however, appears to hold a unique selling point in allowing customers to mix and match the items they’re renting.
The perk that comes with this level of customisation is that customers are able to choose the exact items they want in a way that fits their individual budgets.
With that said, SBBN also offers packages for those who want something more simple and straightforward.
In terms of Nawal’s future plans for SBBN, she hopes to stay on track for the business’s growth and be the most preferred rental provider for events in years to come.
Looking at SBBN’s expansion trajectory so far and the fact that events are now permitted again, there’s potential for it to reach that goal.
Featured Image Credit: Nawal Yasmin, founder of Something Borrowed By Nawal