Thriving on a bright outlook
“Shine bright like a diamond,’’ goes the lyric of a song. For Bludiamond founder Lilian Lo, it is not only the diamonds that are sparkling; everyday for her is a day of smiles.
“I’m happy to be in this line; people look for me on joyous occasions. So you see I have a big smile all the time,’’ said Lilian.
During the Movement Control Order (MCO) , she created a limited edition of diamonds which her clients, mostly staying at home, looked forward to, online, every week.
Clients who had allocated big budgets for travelling overseas, now buy diamonds instead.
To cater directly to consumers, the company had started a range five years ago, called Grafiti Angel, that manufactures bespoke or customized jewellery.
“The trend for bespoke jewellery, where we create pieces to suit personal styles, is catching on. As clients speak their mind, we listen to what they need,’’ said Lilian who loves design and artistic creations.
To commemorate their motherhood, mothers may buy a personalized piece of jewellery for their newborn; some may want to inscribe their children’s names on the pieces.
Self-motivated and confident ladies may believe in shining bright, or wearing jewellery with their names inscribed.
While ‘name jewellery’ is gaining popularity, customers are also looking for more interesting pieces, for example, they may want their engagement rings to be customized in pairs, or as only ‘one of a kind.’
“We are also starting to create multi-use jewellery that can be, for example, converted from pendants to rings,’’ said Lilian.
For selection, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) has a stock list of more than 5,000 pieces of diamonds; the budget for diamond jewellery ranges from RM3,000 onwards.
Diamond prices which are listed online, are transparent; trained dealers at Bludiamond attend to clients and explain all this to them.
Lilian draws inspiration from books with happy quotes and beautiful illustrations, designing the jewellery herself.
She then passes on the ideas to craftsmen at her factory in Hong Kong, where she studied designing and other aspects of the diamond industry.
Bludiamond has been involved in wholesale manufacturing for the last 20 years, mainly supplying to shops in Malaysia and Singapore.
But with the onset of Covid-19, the time for change has come.
“The future of shopping will be digital . All efforts in this company will be focused on building our brand over social media.
“Our industry will be more competitive, so targeting the right niche market will be key to our future success,’’ said Henry Tan, who is responsible for business development and Lilian’s husband.
Lilian has also put her creativity into good use with a line of T-shirts called Chalk-A-Tee, where drawings using smudge free chalk, can be washed off.
Introduced initially at children’s parties, Chalk-A-Tee became famous following a donation of 4,000 pieces in 2015 to Myanmar refugees.
A friend wrote about it in a Japanese newspaper, and Kinokuniya called Lilian, asking for Chalk-A-Tees to fill their window display.
The project called Chalkapella, has since gone worldwide; among other places, the T-shirts are sold in Hamley’s toyshops.
In the past four years, she has also tied up with charity missions, that include donating to orang asli and orphanages.
“It is satisfying to have helped put a smile on the kids’ faces. Personally, it has been a humbling experience and I grew tremendously as a person,’’ said Lilian.
The initial period wasn’t easy. She recalls pushing trolley loads of Chalk-A-Tees to departmental stores in her high heels and stylish jeweller’s outfits.
Now, her T-shirts are put on exhibitions and in Hong Kong, she has a company that exports them.
With diamond jewellery as her mainstay, Lilian has found a rewarding channel for her creativity that may not just stop at Chalkapella.
By Yap Leng Kuen, Chief Storyteller, The Artisans Haven