Proving the critics wrong
When Sharen Ting of Bling Bling Paradise, which is well-known for its handcrafted phone covers, started her business 11 years ago, very few thought she could make money from these products.
But she stuck to her belief and vision that one day, she will make it and prove them wrong.
Over the years, she has created more than 50,000 of these decorative phone covers, each with her personalised design, for customers who, among many others, are celebrities, artists, ladies at beauty pageants and those running loyalty programmes.
Other decorative items by Bling Bling Paradise include clutch bags, handbags, door gifts, boxes, powerbanks, phone frames, tumblers, clothes, shoes, mirrors and perfume bottles.
She also does wholesale, providing raw materials for decoration, while conducting workshops and classes, and organizing parties, events and functions.
“I started humbly in night markets and bazaars, just investing RM5,000, and launched my media platform through Facebook in 2008 when very few people knew what Facebook was,’’ said Sharen.
Later, she moved to Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, where shoppers had higher purchasing power, as costs had gone up for her products.
With the crystallised phone covers as her most popular product, Sharen has been interviewed by Astro, TV3, and some magazines and newspapers.
The company is now focusing on its online business, which not only helps to save on rentals and costs, but also to capture the growth in online shopping especially in east Malaysia.
With tourists as its main target, the retail business at Bling Bling Paradise was affected during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period; when it resumed in May, business had dropped by 60%.
Most of her overseas clients are from the US, Canada, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, but it looks like this Covid-19 has also affected their sales.
In the middle of May, the company approached a few local influencers and celebrities to help boost its branding and sales.
“From then on, our online business grew beyond our expectations, and it surpassed our sales in the retail shop,’’ said Sharen.
After concentrating a lot on the business in the retail shop, it was time then to refocus on the online channels.
Believing that this type of handcrafted business that comes with personalized services will be a trend in future, Sharen and her team intend to keep on learning while coming up with a wider product range.
Funds will come in handy to train more manpower, expand the product line, upgrade the quality of the materials, explore new markets, as well as conduct more workshops and classes.
There have been some interest from potential investors, but so far, the company is still running on its own.
The designs that Sharen creates are based on her own ideas, with reference sometimes to Japanese phone deco magazines.
“The ideas just come out from her mind, that’s her artistic talent,’’ said her husband, Ken Lim. The staff will proceed with her ideas under her guidance.
While Swarovski crystals are the most expensive raw materials, the company tries to find good quality materials at affordable costs to suit customers’ tastes and requirements at all levels.
Starting from RM38 to RM600, its decorative phone covers are considered a luxurious and branded product among the normal phone casings in the market.
With three children aged between two and seven, Sharen and Ken will let them enjoy their childhood first before seeing if any of them is interested in learning about the business.
The family may plan a holiday to Japan where most of the ‘bling bling’ ideas and designs come from.
Sharen has worked tirelessly to build her business and remains focused on growing her business and product range.
While waiting for the borders to reopen, she is tapping the online market for further opportunities.
By Yap Leng Kuen, Chief Story Teller, The Artisans Haven