These 20-year-olds turn trash into another business’ treasure with secondhand packaging

Businesses generally rely on plastic packaging for their products and this often leads to heaps of plastic poly mailers, bubble wraps, wrappers and such, that end up as waste. While some consumers attempt to recycle these, this practice is not as effective or environmentally-friendly as they think.

According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), poly mailers can’t be recycled through the blue bins in Singapore. Yet, people still end up throwing them there because recycling guidelines can be unclear, which leads to a larger problem of the entire pile of materials collected being deemed unrecyclable due to possible contamination.

Meanwhile, the poly mailers and packaging that are not thrown into blue bins end up contributing to Singapore’s domestic waste. Despite Singapore ramping up efforts to promote the domestic recycling rates, total waste accumulated in 2019 stood at 2.9 million tonnes, with packaging waste making up about one-third of it, according to the NEA. 

Packaging
Packaging / Image credit: Package Pals

Puan Xin, marketing communications director of Package Pals, mentions that many simply discard items they deem recyclable, “without stopping to think about whether they could potentially extend its lifespan by using it for longer or upcycling it”, especially for single-use items such as plastic package and paper envelopes.  

But what else can be done with these single-use plastics if they can’t be recycled? 

Package Pals, a circular packaging initiative launched in 2020, collects single-use packaging and redistributes them to companies to use in their packaging of products, extending the lifespans of these single-use packaging. In essence, it resembles a circular distribution system that is aimed to reduce packaging waste. 

Through this project, Package Pals aims to correct the misconception that recycling is the way to go. To them, reducing and reusing — which are above recycling according to the waste hierarchy — are the actions that truly combat waste accumulation through extending the lifespans of single-use packaging.

“Rather than letting your packaging waste be incinerated and thrown in our landfills, they can be repurposed with us,” say the three. 

Circularity over other sustainable methods

Rachel Han, Puan Xin and Rachel Han, co-founders of Package Pals
Rachel Han, Puan Xin and Rachel Lee of Package Pals / Image Credit: Package Pals

Puan Xin joined Package Pals created by Rachel Lee and Rachel Han, whom she met online via a Telegram community during the circuit breaker in May 2020.

The three of them are currently university students, studying at Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, King’s College London, and Singapore Management University’s School of Social Science respectively. 

Sharing more about how they came up with the idea, Puan Xin shared that Lee used to be a secondhand seller online. She faced a shortage in secondhand mailers, which many thrift sellers used to mail out orders.

Observing the amounts of packaging waste generated by the rise in online shopping during that time, she noticed that there were many who did not know what to do with them other than throwing them away. 

She then sent a text to an environment support Telegram group about poly mailer wastage in Singapore, generating conversations and eventually the beginning of her friendship with Han and Puan Xin, who shared similar goals and visions with regards to the waste landscape. 

Together, they identified many misconceptions when it came to sustainable packaging. 

“There are indeed lots of alternatives for sustainable packaging that currently exist in the market, but we’ve found that none of them are truly ‘zero-waste’ and still require much energy in order to be produced.”

For instance, companies opting for more “sustainable” packaging options such as compostable mailers or paper mailers, would be counterproductive because the production of such packaging may use up more resources than the production of single-use plastics. 

In 2011,

Our vision is to create a wasteless postal system. Since these ‘single-use’ packaging are made of good material and can actually be reused several times with minimal damage, this slows down the rate at which waste is being added to our bins.

– Rachel Lee, co-founder of Package Pals

Collection and redistribution of packaging

Package Pals’ business model is simple — collect, redistribute, educate. 

First, they collect six main categories of packaging from the general public that are relatively clean and in usable condition: poly mailers (≥A4), paper envelopes (≥A4), bubble wrap and padded envelopes. Donors are also advised to remove their personal details on their packaging by writing over with permanent marker or wiping off with nail polish remover. 

Donors can send in their used packaging via mailing, monthly meet-ups, or Package Pals’ islandwide drop-off points at 20 schools and businesses, malls and community centres. 

However, the founders emphasise that Package Pals should not be mistaken as a “dumping ground”, considering the number of random items they have received that are not packaging.

Package Pals drop-off site
Drop-off site at Our Tampines Hub / Image credit: Package Pals

Once the packaging is collected, Package Pals connects with businesses or individuals who require such packaging. Those seeking to receive packaging via mail, meet-up, or self-collection, can fill up a form to acquire the packaging from Package Pals for free.

Receivers who require packaging in quantities that go beyond the stated limit can also email them to order larger quantities through their bulk order system, for a nominal fee to account for the time and effort spent in collecting and sorting the packaging.

According to the trio, they have worked with larger business, though a bulk of their clients are small businesses in the fashion and jewellery space, as well as non-profit organisations.

By collecting single-use packaging from the general public, Package Pals essentially reduces the waste collected in landfills. This initiative also helps businesses looking for eco-friendly packaging options to engage in the act of reusing while reducing the usage of brand-new packaging. 

For other types of packaging that Package Pals doesn’t accept such as boxes and styrofoam, Package Pals has created a resource-matching sheet to find sellers who do accept them.

Challenges in the early days

When Package Pals first launched in May 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown period, Han, Lee and Puan Xin recall that they were worried about the take-up rate and support as donation and seller sign-ups numbers were below their expectations. 

“Despite feeling strongly about our cause, I think we largely questioned whether others felt the same,” they add.

Little did they know, the reception largely improved in July 2020, with a tremendous increase in support garnered online. Those who came across their Instagram page shared about their project on social media platforms, ultimately causing their donor and seller base to also grow.

“[W]e’re incredibly grateful for those who saw value in what we do and helped spread the word, as well as those who reached out to us for collaborations,” they say, adding that there is also a sizeable zero-waste community focused on reducing waste before it gets recycled or discarded as trash, which provided a lot of support for their initiative.

We never expected to fulfil such a huge need within the community, or that second-hand packaging would be this well-received, but we often receive comments from businesses and individuals who say they’ve been looking for eco-friendly packaging, or a way to repurpose their packaging, for a long time. You’d be surprised how many people in Singapore actually hoard their packaging!

– Rachel Han, co-founder of Package Pals

However, there were concerns some donors had with regards to privacy. In that aspect, Package Pals ensures that personal details are removed to comply with the Personal Data Protection Act.

“We check all our packaging before they’re distributed and remove details such as addresses and phone numbers if they’re found on mailing labels,” reassures Han.

Removal of personal details
Removal of personal details / Image credit: Package Pals

Another factor contributing to consumer hesitancy was hygiene, especially at the height of the pandemic. Han, Lee and Puan Xin share that all packaging are sieved through a rigorous sorting process, to ensure that they are of good quality and safe for distribution. 

If the packaging is found to be contaminated, dirty or not fit for reuse, it will be disposed of or ideally refused at the point of donation. Packaging is also wiped down with an alcohol-based solution to ensure cleanliness. 

Unfortunately, there was another problem they had to address. Though secondhand packaging and having a circular postage system is novel, many were still sceptical and not used to it.

Some customers looking to use secondhand packaging from Package Pals for their own businesses were worried that it would not be well-received by their consumers, due to it being deemed cheap or inauthentic. 

“Many are actually concerned about branding and how their customers may perceive second-hand packaging to be like,” they highlight. 

However, a 2021 Ipsos study commissioned by the Package Pals and Lazada showed that 62 per cent of Singaporeans are actually quite, or very receptive, to second-hand packaging. 

The report also demonstrated that when retailers manage customer expectations effectively, such as by including secondhand packaging as an ‘opt-in’ choice, this significantly increases consumers’ receptivity, with 52 per cent of respondents expressing receptivity in such cases.

The trio also lamented that they tend to face an oversupply of most packaging. “In order for us to effectively extend the life cycle of the packaging we collect, the loop between consumers and businesses definitely needs to be closed,” they urge.

For the initiative to reach its full potential, they feel that businesses need to rev up their operations and start incorporating secondhand packaging. Debunking the myth that secondhand packaging is not welcomed by consumers, it is high time businesses rethink their packaging models for the greater good of the environment. 

On the business side of things, Package Pals are concerned over generating sufficient revenue to keep the cost of their packaging low, in order to encourage businesses to take up secondhand packaging.

They’re currently working on building their revenue streams, and have received a S$20,000 grant from the Youth Action Challenge Season 2 by National Youth Council as well as launched a

Package Pals volunteers
Package Pals volunteers / Image credit: Package Pals

The three 20-year-olds have now grown into a team with 20 other volunteers. Since their inception, they have received over 600 orders of secondhand packaging and distributed about 1,500 pieces of packaging per month.

They have also provided secondhand packaging to more than 400 businesses, including World Wide Fund For Nature Singapore, Halogen Foundation and essential oils brand Ollie.

They have also established a partnership with The Sustainability Project under the Zero Waste Packaging Initiative that helps to provide businesses with reused packaging, saving a total of 13,990 packaging pieces to date.

Other partnerships include those with community organisations such as Our Tampines Hub, which hosts their first and only public drop-off point for packaging. Non-governmental organisations like SUN-DAC also works with Package Pals by contributing to their logistics operations as part of its clients’ occupational therapy programme. 

“We believe as more people hear of the idea of circular packaging, it could potentially encourage more businesses to adopt secondhand packaging,” says Puan Xin.

She adds that Package Pals also raises awareness on sustainable packaging, which is a “key goal” of its initiative.

Package Pals talk
Rachel Han giving an educational talk / Image credit: Package Pals

So far, over 20 workshops and talks for corporate and governmental organisations have been conducted. For schools and the general public, Package Pals has provided educational campaigns like talks and webinars. 

They have also expanded to other social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn to spread awareness on packaging waste, address misconceptions, and encourage a conscious mindset towards waste and shopping. 

One of our primary aims is to shift customer perception of secondhand packaging and waste in general, in the long-term. We’d like to get our audience thinking about the end life of the products they purchase, and the packaging that comes with them.

This includes taking greater responsibility over the packaging they pass to us, and using consumer power to influence businesses to adopt the packaging option we offer.

– Rachel Lee, co-founder of Package Pals

Featured Image Credit: Package Pals

Also Read: Giving clothes a second life: How these S’pore brands are paving the way for sustainability

Some crypto companies in S’pore welcome the crypto winter, see it as weeding out the weak

Two months ago, Singapore-based Terraform Labs experienced an ugly fall from grace when both its Terra UST and Luna tokens collapsed almost overnight. While Terraform Labs has since launched a new token, the fallout from this collapse is still rippling through the crypto ecosystem, and not just in Singapore.

US-based crypto lending protocol Celsius was forced to halt withdrawals, and Singapore-based Three Arrows Capital was ordered into liquidation last week. 

Amidst all this, even companies that survived have had to lay off employees. Crypto.com announced plans to cut their headcount, as did Bybit.

But are these moves reflective of the wider industry as a whole? And what changes are businesses expecting to see when the crypto winter blows over?

To hire or to fire?

For one, many crypto companies do not seem too keen on cutting headcounts. Talos, a crypto infrastructure provider for crypto platforms, has not seen any layoffs, according to Samar Sen, head of Talos’ APAC operations. 

Talos is not alone on this front. Fasset, an internationally regulated digital asset gateway is apparently “hiring aggressively in all the regions [they] operate in,” according to CEO and co-founder Mohammad Raafi Hossain. Matrixport, a digital assets financial services ecosystem, is also looking to continue hiring despite market sentiment, according to their LinkedIn page.

What can explain this jarring difference in sentiment? For one, many of these companies cite sound financial management business propositions that actually provide value for consumers and customers.

At Lemniscap, we remain intently focused on our strategy and our foundational market thesis. Nothing has changed for us. In fact, we are actively hiring and focusing on expanding our team at the moment. Unfortunately, given the ongoing uncertainty around the potential duration of this market downturn, a sense of trepidation has gripped many market players.

Some projects are re-evaluating budgets and looking at cost-saving measures — including layoffs — while kicking operational prudence into high gear. However, projects with proper treasury management in place remain in strong operational health with considerable financial runway.

– Roderik van der Graaf, founder of Lemniscap

Samar agrees, and credits the continued demand for their products to their sustainable business model and strong product-market fit. 

Another company that is also still looking to expand their team is Singapore-based Digital Treasures Center, which provides crypto payments infrastructure to businesses, and allows them to receive and manage payments in cryptocurrency.

DTC founder and COO El Lee pointed out that “we look at crypto not from an investment or speculative asset perspective, but for its utility value to solve real-world problems. We see value in crypto in solving the pain points in the payment space.” 

Digital Treasures Center
Image Credit: Digital Treasures Center

Clearly, many of these crypto companies seem to be confident in their own futures, as long as their business models are sound and cash burn can be dealt with. 

How are businesses reacting to MAS’ policy?

Another common sentiment that many crypto companies seem to have is that this crypto winter is not completely unwelcome.

Among other reasons, many crypto company founders seem to agree with MAS’ view that the crypto winter will weed out the weak and leave the crypto industry leaner and tougher than before.

For instance, Lemniscap founder Roderik van der Graaf argued that “Market downturns can often serve as a long-term cleansing force for the sector, ensuring the future path is paved with fundamentals rather than widespread herd mentality.”

Head of APAC for Talos Samar Sen has expressed similar sentiments, though he has also found sympathy for investors who have lost their fortunes over the past few weeks. 

No one at our firm wants to see the large-scale destruction of value or massive investor losses that we have witnessed over the last weeks. At the same time, we want the digital asset ecosystem to be rid of ‘scam’ coins, market manipulation, and irresponsible behaviour. As an exciting new frontier industry, there will be such failures along the path to maturity.

– Samar Sen, head of APAC for Talos

Given this sentiment, many of these companies are also using this time to introspect, and double down on their core competencies and value propositions to clients.

RockX CEO and Founder Chen Zhuling
RockX CEO and founder Chen Zhuling / Image Credit: RockX

RockX CEO and founder Chen Zhuling, for instance, is adamant that “what has not changed is that building a strong team and staying focused on the long-term vision will be critical in a bear environment, and those who keep innovating and polishing their products will be well-placed to stay on top of the competitive landscape in the next cycle.”

DTC founder El Lee also expects that investors will become more cautious, and encourages companies to focus on their business fundamentals.

“Previously, companies are given free rein to run crypto investment, but this is likely to change. This will in turn change how crypto companies operate and the level of controls and risk management that they need to instil to bring back the level of confidence from investors.”.

Focusing on the long run

That being said, several companies expect the situation to get worse before it gets better. Fasset CEO and co-founder Mohammad Raafi Hossain, for one, suggested that he “expects the prevailing market conditions to persist until it becomes more evident that the global economy has pivoted back towards recovery and growth”

Chen is also confident that the crypto winter will eventually blow over, when investors begin to see the value of the next wave of decentralised applications — DAOs, SocialFi, NFTs, and the likes.

“When these technologies prove how they value-add to society and consumers through real-ife applications, the next bull run will come. Many of these cases will come from the infrastructure layers of crypto, which is why it’s key that we don’t stop building and innovating.”

Ross Gan, Head of Public Relations at Matrixport, also argued that the company’s confidence in blockchain technology has not wavered, and that “blockchain will redefine what’s possible in the financial network of tomorrow”.

Lemniscap founder Roderik van der Graaf however, is confident that the crypto winter will not continue indefinitely.

Quality projects will always attract funding, but in the current environment we can expect more grounded valuations. But speaking from experience, some of the most promising builders and projects tend to emerge during periods of market flux, and we are always on the lookout for ambitious founders with bold visions.

– Roderik van der Graaf, Founder of Lemniscap

As companies crumble and investors divest, crypto winter seems to be taking a heavy toll on many different stakeholders. But apparently, all is not lost. Crypto companies are still confident in the long-term proposition of their products, and Venture Capital firms like Lemniscap are still willing to back founders when there is a real value proposition on the table.

coinhako
Yusho Liu (left) and Gerry Eng (right), co-founders of Coinhako / Image Credit: Coinhako

Liu Yusho, co-founder and CEO of Coinhako, probably summed it up the best: “Though this period is tough for both key players and investors, especially so in the crypto space, we believe that projects and companies with strong use cases will be able to persevere and tide through it.”

“Perhaps a silver lining from the market fallout is that companies are compelled to examine their fundamentals and strengthen the real-world uses of their offerings.”

Featured Image Credit: Coinhako, RockX, Digital Treasures Center

Also Read: S’pore-based Three Arrows Capital fails to pay debts – now under liquidation due to insolvency

Before you panic when stopped by the police in M’sia, know your rights and what you can do

TLDR: Full video review available below!

We’ve all passed through our fair share of roadblocks. Personally, such an experience launches me into an internal conflict, wondering what to do if I was stopped.

I want to be a good citizen and comply with the police’s questions, but not knowing my rights may open me up to being taken advantage of. I believe many feel the same, but it’s not something we think or worry about until it’s actually happened.

To be better prepared, here’s what you should know about the boundaries of what police are allowed to do when stopping a driver at a roadblock (or anywhere else, for that matter). 

Understanding authority cards

Roadblocks are meant for police officers to investigate certain cases. It’s their job, after all. 

They may do so because they’re looking for suspects of crime, verifying and validating identities, curbing illegal immigration, and checking for valid driver’s licenses, for example. They have the right to check your information.

Before going into the different scenarios of getting stopped and what you can do in each one, it’s important to understand the different ranks of police through their authority cards.

There are three: red, blue, and yellow.

  • Red – The policeman has been suspended. They have no right to ask you to do anything. 
  • Blue – You’re speaking to an inspector or someone of a higher rank. This allows them to carry out most commands, but more on this later.
  • Yellow – They’re below the rank of an inspector, and can only carry out certain commands on their own. The rest must be overseen by an inspector or higher-ranked officer.

What you can do in these situations

1. You are stopped by a police out of uniform or plain-clothed police.

You may ask for their authority card. If it’s red, you can leave since they’re a suspended officer. If it’s blue or yellow, you can hear them out.

2. They ask you questions about your identity, such as name, IC number, address, and occupation

You are obliged to provide your IC and driving license. If you fail to provide your IC during the inspection, you may be fined, arrested without a warrant, or face both penalties.

If you’re unable to show your driving license or it has expired, you will get a summons to be paid within two months.

3. If they ask more questions outside of identification purposes

You can note the police’s name, authority ID number, and their vehicle’s plate number. Otherwise, you could politely ask, “Am I under arrest?”

4. If they arrest you

You should ask what offence you’re being arrested for, and which police station they’re taking you to.

You’re not allowed to resist an arrest, but it’s unlawful if you don’t know the reason for it. 

If you do resist, the police can use reasonable force to make you cooperate. Once you’re at the police station, you have the right to make one call.

5. If you’re not being arrested

You can refuse to go to the police station or anywhere else assigned.

6. If you’re simply a potential witness that they cannot arrest

Refusing to cooperate in providing more info is an offence.

The police can then issue a formal order in writing signed by an investigating officer to ask you to cooperate, or request the Magistrate to issue a warrant against you to cooperate.

You’re allowed to ask for a lawyer’s accompaniment when you are being investigated, as the police may take down your answers.

These situations are non-exhaustive, and there may be specific, additional consequences or fines if you break the law under some circumstances.

The police are also subject to certain boundaries 

While the police can ask you to stop at the roadblock, they are subject to several boundaries of what they can and can’t do as well.

Police officers have the power to stop and search vehicles as well as the passengers inside. They are also permitted to conduct body searches without an arrest if they believe you are hiding illegal things.

However, only female officers are allowed to search women.

In any case, body searches may only be done in the presence of an inspector or higher-ranked officer.

During these body checks, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t allow police officers to put their hands in your pockets or clothes.

Instead, you can offer to empty your pockets by yourself and present the objects clearly.

If an officer threatens, assaults, or harasses you with inappropriate commands, you’re allowed to protest and lodge a report after the incident. 

You can also record the interaction on your phone, which will be helpful as evidence.

Remembering the police officer’s details and location will also be helpful.

There are no laws preventing you from recording police officers during a stop, but there are a few conditions when doing so:

Once reported, action can be taken against them under Section 509 or 354 of the Penal Code.

Preparedness is always a good idea

It’s always a good idea to be prepared and here are some of the ways you can do this:

  1. Make a copy of The Redbook by the Malaysian Bar. It is a cheat sheet containing all your basic rights as a Malaysian citizen. 
  2. Be familiar with the viable reasons for arrest, such as being drunk or high in public, if you break any provincial or city bylaws, or if you breach the “peace”.
  3. Do not panic when being stopped by the police, and follow instructions calmly.

-//-

Just remember what your rights are so that you know exactly when a police officer is crossing a line. As long as the police themselves are aligned with the laws we mentioned earlier, then there’s no reason why we shouldn’t cooperate.

To watch the full video on the matter, check it out below:

https://youtu.be/iEgzHGApc0w?list=PLlAi3GPkB9exSYwuMzR1Ucs7_VY2POsCC

  • Read other road safety-related articles we’ve written here.

Also Read: As the first OPPO phone to collab with Hasselblad, is the Find X5 Pro worth the hype?

This Bangsar tufting studio thinks its programme is addictive, so we had to give it a shot

If you’ve been active on social media over the past year, you may have come across videos of people tufting. It’s pretty big on TikTok with some creators, such as SIMJI, garnering over five million followers on the platform.

If you don’t know what tufting is, it’s a technique in textile manufacturing whereby a thread is inserted on a primary base. The modern-day way to do it is using a tufting gun, which rapidly pushes thread into the base.

For those who haven’t heard of tufting and are still doubting its popularity, just know that there are already more than a handful of tufting studios in Malaysia.

To name a few, there’s Tuftme (which alone has multiple locations), Tuft Second, Tufters Space, Tuft Space, and so much more.  

But amongst all those, one that stood out to me was D’rug Tufting Studio.

The yarn room is separate from the rest of the video / Image Credit: D’rug

With a simple username of @drug_kl on Instagram, I did a double-take when I first came across this account. Clicking into its profile, I was further surprised by the business description—Drug Addiction Treatment Center.

Alas, I realised it was simply a play on the word “rug”. Still, I thought it was eye-catching and rather humorous. The brothers who founded it seemed to think so too.

“During our naming process, we had about 50 names listed out.” Wei Han shared. “When we got to D’rug, we all just clicked [with it. We like how fun and quirky the name can be as it reads exactly like something we should not do. But we thought we would take the risk and do what other people wouldn’t dare to do.”

Jumping the (tufting) gun

Brothers Wei Han and Wei Ren are only 26 and 25 respectively, having just graduated from university around three years ago. Wei Han studied construction, while Wei Ren was in engineering.

At the end of last year, they discovered the art of tufting. At the time, they believed it was still rather niche in Malaysia, so they thought to themselves, “Why not? What’s the worst that can happen?”

D’rug team members / Image Credit: D’rug

So, the brothers took the plunge and quit their jobs in Johor Bahru and travelled north to KL.

“We weren’t in the craft industry prior to opening D’rug, but nothing stopped our eagerness to learn and create,” Wei Han shared.

They overcame their limited funds by being hands-on with the setup of their studio, going so far as to build the tables and handle the wirings themselves.

Compared to other industries such as F&B, though, the equipment for tufting is rather accessible. The main materials needed include the tufting gun, yarn, base fabric, and backing for the rug.

“However, to make tufting fun, colour availability is very important,” Wei Han brought up. “So making sure all colours and shades remain in stock and available has been tricky especially since most materials are sourced overseas and have quite a long delivery period.”

On top of preparing a physical space, they also had to work on being knowledgeable about the craft of tufting itself.

The brothers shared that tufting itself isn’t difficult, as they could guide anyone within five minutes, to actually understand and master it takes more time.

Thread threats

As mentioned, there are already so many other tufting studios and workshops in Malaysia, concentrated in the Klang Valley.

Although D’rug has a pretty catchy name, it might not be enough to sway people their way, especially when the name can sometimes be a disadvantage.

“We later realised that our Instagram handle would make approaching brands and KOLs more difficult, but I guess we’ll just have to live with that,” Wei Han mused.

So, another way D’rug claims to set itself apart from competitors is simple—pricing.

My managing editor, Sade, tufting the Vulcan Post logo

For their classic programme, which works with a 60cm by 60cm canvas, the retail price is RM299, with a special RM199 deal for subsequent party members. However, we’ve noticed that they’ve been running an RM100 promo for a while now, bringing the price per pax down quite significantly.

Without the promo though, compared to other brands, it’s still a pretty average deal. At Tuftme, the standard price is RM250. This means it’s RM500 for two people. With the non-promo D’rug deal (pun intended), it would be RM498.

Over at Tuft Second, the prices are RM268 per pax, with discounts for a bigger pax too.

“Instead of putting a premium price on tufting, we feel that tufting should be enjoyed by everyone instead, hence why we’ve placed our price at a competitive range,” Wei Han explained.

Trying D’rug for ourselves

I’ve never tried tufting before, but it looks like such a therapeutic experience. So, when Wei Han invited us to try out tufting at D’rug ourselves, I took him up on the offer.

Located in Jalan Telawi, Bangsar, D’rug is set in a very happening space. Street parking is admittedly a bit of a nightmare, but as a last resort, there’s a mall (Bangsar Village) just a few steps away.

In my opinion, it’s a great location as customers can visit nearby food options before and after their tufting session, as it can actually be quite physically strenuous, as I was about to learn.

Don’t worry about losing your way, there are little tufted signs to bring you to the studio

Little tufted arrows guided me up the stairs to the third floor, where the studio was located. The space was dim when I entered because there were projectors in use.

Each workstation has a corresponding projector to let customers draw the basic shape of what they’re going to tuft.

I chose to make a sunny side up, while my managing editor, Sade, decided to recreate the Vulcan Post logo. Once I finished outlining, a staff member guided me to the yarn room, where a colourful wall of yarns greeted me.

“Yarn displays are a staple of tufting studios, often used as photo-op backgrounds while displaying all available colours to tufters,” Wei Han shared.

Each customer gets their own little trolley to keep their supplies and products in. For my design, I picked out the colours of an egg—white and yellow (and black for the face details).

While pushing my trolley back to my station, I noted there were nine tufters in the studio. The staff told me that they can fit eight comfortably, but can squeeze in 12 if need be. There are three sessions per day on weekends (9:30AM, 2PM, and 7PM), and usually two on weekdays.

Tufting the whites of my egg

I also noticed that there was a pretty high staff-to-customer ratio. There were around five or six staff members around, including Wei Han.   

“We have around 12 staff members in our team, all very fun, caring and extremely [skilled] in tufting,” Wei Han said. “Staff members all go through our training programme and are very capable of guiding and helping tuft out small details that you’re not confident with.”

As we began to tuft, Sade mentioned that she enjoyed that the staff members didn’t hold your hand through the process, but instead let us experience the process ourselves.

I messed up a few times, but tufting is an incredibly forgiving activity. If you messed up one part, you can just tug the thread out.

One hour in, my right arm was feeling sore from carrying the gun. Thankfully, each station comes with its own chair and the studio also provided water bottles and free snacks for everyone.

A generous cart of free snacks

It took around two hours for me to finish tufting. After that, a staffer came to cut out my design and brought it to the back to prepare the rug for its final glue-and-shave stage.

Before that, though, they invited me to the yarn room for a quick picture that they printed out for me.

In exchange for a five-star review on Google, D’rug lets customers glue and shave their own rugs and take it home on the same day. This part took another half-hour or so.

Of course, you’re not obligated to leave a five-star review and can opt to just wait a week to get your rug, but after our own experience at D’rug, we’d say that their five-star reviews are well-deserved.

Once we vacuumed our rugs, we were free to take them home. I am now the proud owner of a little egg rug, and everyone in our office was surprised by the Vulcan Post rug.

As tired as we were after the experience, we both agreed that we were already thinking of coming back to make more rugs one day, because the satisfaction we got from creating something with our own hands was unmatched.

A big thank you to D’rug, Wei Han, and the team members for the experience!

Sade and I posing with our rugs in the yarn room

Not just a phase

D’rug opened its doors in March this year. However, with so much competition today and with tufting being somewhat of a trend, there’s a concern about whether or not the craft is sustainable.

“Trends come and go, and we’ve been asked many times about what we plan to do in the future when the trend isn’t as hot as it is today,” Wei Han expressed. “But we have many exciting things planned ahead that hopefully will introduce tufting to even more people today.”

Three months into their studio, the team has already seen returning customers (“addicted”, as they would call it) and supportive feedback. So, they must be doing something right.

“For now, we want to make sure that our customers enjoy their time with us,” Wei Han said. “Happy customers are the way to go for an engaging business. In the future, we will participate in more activities and collaborations to introduce tufting in more creative forms.”

  • Learn more about D’rug Tufting Studio here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Also Read: Almost 7 out of 10 Malaysians are not cleaning their beds properly. This is why you have to.