Making money doing what they love
By:Gabriel Lihan
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The COVID-19 pandemic may have robbed many individuals of their career options, but some have chosen to rise above hardship and discover sources of earnings through their passions and hobbies. Thankfully, the world for entrepreneurs has gotten smaller due to the power of social media.

Turning hobbies into jobs

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have come up with innovative ways to earn a living while simultaneously raising awareness of the Kuching creative scene.

Thus, the Borneo Illustration and Creative (BIC) Festival, which takes place in Pustaka Negeri Sarawak from July 23 to July 31, has given the locals the chance to show off their creative side.

New Sarawak Tribune spoke with some of the local artisans who were selling their items at the creative ethical market.

Passionate green fingers

Kuching Plant Club began in late 2020 when the pandemic was still looming. Due to the Movement Control Order (MCO), which was causing fear and business constraint at that time, the club faced a great deal of uncertainty.

Buying and cultivating plants became the ‘in thing,’ and Instagram accounts were constantly swamped with people gardening or even selling what they grew.

The Kuching Plant Club has 19 sellers who are mostly gardeners. They all use the same Instagram account for their plant business.

Joanne, a current member of the Kuching Plant Club, said that the club has flourished independently from 2020.

“Because there is a word ‘club’ there and anyone can sell, I am often asked whether there are any fees or if there is a form to fill out,” she said.

“In terms of production, they cultivate their own plants, and because plants are an in thing, most of us sell them on Instagram.”

Joanne added that some of the sellers had been doing this for years.

“The youngest is probably 20 years old, the oldest is around 50 years old, and some make pots and sell soils.”

When asked why she wanted to sell plants, she said, “I want to sell plants because I needed money to get more plants because every plant person has connections because if you’re a plant person, you’re either a collector or a seller.

“I’ll organise a swap because it brings the community together and we all like plants.”

Joanne’s passion for plants began in 2017, and it has now evolved into a side business for her.

A unique love for embroidery and crystals

Alice shows her work of art.

Due to the hiatus brought on by the pandemic, Alice Tiaw, who had worked hard to achieve her dream, made the decision to fully pursue it.

It was a 10-year dream come true because of long-standing passion for embroidery and her recent love for crystal.

A hobby for embroidery and a favourite pastime that she discovered at a young age has grown into a successful and growing business.

She said that, in addition to the crystal’s attractive colour and the belief that it can attract wealth and relationships, she fell in love with the beads and the variety of content it holds.

“I’ve always loved embroidery, I enjoy sewing and stitching, and I also have a business.

“It’s only a small business for all my products, and I usually do my business online.”

She obtains her materials from a local supplier since they are reasonably priced.

“I’ve been fascinated by crystals for about a year, and it doesn’t matter how low or high the grade is; it’s all the same to me.”

She was introduced to crystals by a friend, and she immediately fell in love with their uniqueness as well as the variety of beads and materials that drew her attention. She has since opted to keep being involved in this business.

“Certain crystals attract wealth, energy, and relationships.

“It is quite attractive in addition to being worn for its aesthetics or the colour of the crystals.”

She also said that embroidery is unique and that she enjoys doing it.

“I always like the idea of a commercial item being purchased, especially when you can get it anywhere.

“For instance, if I sew a person’s name on an item, it may be the same person’s name sewed but sewn differently,” she said.

According to Alice, it is the uniqueness of her products that fuels her enthusiasm and gives her the delight of seeing her customers smile when they receive them.

The love for eco printing

Alit with her eco-dye fabrics.

The person behind Alit Production, who specialises in natural dye and eco printing, has transformed a hobby into a business.

Alit, who has been specialising in hand embroidery since she was seven years old, has decided to pursue new goals, which are natural dye and eco printing.

“Natural dye brings me joy, and whenever I try something new with eco printing and natural dye, it amazes me,” said Alit.

She said that selling natural dye and eco-printing overseas is far more profitable; she sells her products on Facebook and Instagram.

Eco printing originated in Australia a long time ago since they find it to be unique and appealing.

“It protects the environment, requires no chemicals, and takes 20 days to produce, with the earliest completion date being seven days.

“I initially began learning about natural dye, and it eventually developed into a hobby.

“So I look for good leaves, preferably the natural kind,” she said.

“We colour the fabric using all natural herbs, and in eco printing, we print the skin’s leaf on the fabric.

She also mentioned that the designs are determined by the sort of leaf used.

New Sarawak Tribune e-Paper

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New Sarawak Tribune is a Sarawakian news portal that highlights Sarawak-centric news and other stories of relevance to Sarawak.

Today, New Sarawak Tribune focuses on happenings in Sarawak’s cities, towns and small places no matter how remote these are and events of relevance in other states of Malaysia and other countries.