Surviving the “Creative Director” job (Part 2)

By Tuesday, August 8, 2017 0 No tags Permalink 0

So, What’s My Story?

I started taking this route years ago, ever since I stepped foot in the Architecture course, aside from studying design as my first degree, I took up various photography gigs, learning the know hows of compositions and lightings with great names like Amri Ginang and RUpajiwa Studio. Photography wasn’t the only thing I was learning in my spare time, painting and drawing was another skill I tried to sharpen on weekends. In short, I had a deep interest in learning the arts, including going to talks and exhibitions to broaden my view of the arts.

Sometime in between the age of 21 and 22, I ventured into starting my first clothing design business, Flapperwings, which failed after 2 years. Despite the failure, I continued to grow my portfolio through odd jobs with various bosses and groups, doing branding and photography works. Alas, at 24 (2013), after successfully entering the University of Malaya for my second Degree in Architecture, both me and my then, not-yet-husband started TasBijoux, as our source of income to support ourselves and to fund for our wedding.

Fast forward a few years, in 2016, we both put on the table about RM10k and took a huge risk with a business concept that is too damn new, with no immediate competitors and precedent success stories. In fact the only role-model we could look forward to is the BONIA group, who owns BONIA, SEMBONIA and CARLO RINO among the many, but even this company, which was founded in 1974 is not Malaysian but Singaporean. We were really putting ourselves into hot waters of the retail business, and to make it even more tricky, with bags.

But, we had an ambition and a trail of bills that needed to get paid. I remembered posting this up after being pretty broke, from my so-called “move” into retail (what many thought was just a petty online bag business) from architecture.

On August 2016, after months of struggling back and forth to the small office with Naurah and my 2 other team member, my husband left his stable job with a Switzerland Aviation MNC, and cutting-back on blogging and insurance job. He picked up the messy pieces and sorted us out as real SDN BHD company. It was a horror for him, and it did turn out worst for him as the year got to a close and he needs to set-up the auditing for our first year of business. He lost some amount of hair, and aged a bit!

The new space during renovations

What also happened in August was the moving to our new spacious showroom in TTDI Kuala Lumpur, from our small space in Empire Damansara. We were stressed out for the rest of the year until November 2016, with the Contractor who had a lot of problems, but we’re skipping that part in this blog post. Honestly, the move was a huge step for us, as we were only in business for 7-months, and what was supposed to happen in the second year, by a stroke of rezeki, is brought forward a full one-year, for so many strategic reasons.

Departing Architecture & Aviation

Our recent feature in KOSMO! newspaper, it was not our first time but a first for a 3-page spread

It was tough for the first 6-months. Most people who walked into our showroom thought that we were kids who played around during our school years and did not do well in our academics and that we ended up selling bags for a living. Our job was considered a lowly one, until they actually asked about our background and often we were met with shocked faces.

“You left a stable career for this?”

We did not lack anything academically nor professionally. We had to do it while we were still in our 20’s, and were still young and feisty enough to go “against the world”. It was a huge risk and we would not recommend it to anyone, even before our departure, we already had a few important things sorted before we decided to jump into the “abyss of uncertainty”.

Did we miss our past? Hell, yes! Whenever we feel extremely stressed out, we would end up googling for jobs on JobStreet and see if there is a slight chance to go back to reality. Well, my husband has a higher chance because of his strong CV, me on the other hand, will need to get a certain sum of a reality check.

Regardless of the downsides and the amount of stress handling a business that was still in its early stages, we led a pretty comfortable life. We have fancy meals once a week, goes to work in a comfortable car and could pay for Naurah’s nursery fees. We were not glamorous at all, therefore our cost of living was pretty much moderate (aside from fancy meals, because we like pretty foods, lol!), and of course, there was the traveling! Beautiful destinations and nice cozy AirBnB’s. We were grateful for the adventures we had, after all that work, and most important of all we tried our best to never burden our parents with our problems and be fully-responsible adults.

Working Internationally

One of the perks of working at TasBijoux is the traveling and collaborating with people of different nationalities, ideas and languages! It’s a challenge but an exciting one. From expos to visiting exotic places in our spare time, we will take some time off every year to travel (for work, ehem) to Europe and other parts of the world. Sounds great, right? Well, not quite…

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