Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium
Please join us in welcoming Mei Chin of Livingwear, our featured member!
Tell us about yourself.
I was born in a small town (then) in Malaysia called Petaling Jaya where it has a healthy mix of ethnicity (primarily a good mix of Malays, Chinese and Indians). Both my parents are florist (mom is retired and dad is still going strong after 31 years in business! Bless him!).
I’ve always gravitated towards art in school – be it craft, music or joining the school play. As I grew up, practicality and material considerations became a main factor in life and so i found my way into the recruitment world in Singapore for many years, working very hard and had very little play.
I love dogs and cats since I was very little and my passion for fabric and sewing comes from my grandma who is a brilliant seamstress (bless her!).
When did you open your business and what make you decide to do so?
After moving to Surrey, UK in 2011, I decided to learn to sew and took up classes in London. I totally enjoy getting lost in the fabric shop and so I decided to source for beautiful fabrics that is one of a kind – not on the high streets.
I decided to open Livingwear in 2012 but only became more active late 2014 after my husband and I decided to add a little (not so little anymore now) labrador Buddy into our life. I wanted to make something gorgeous yet practical so that people can use in their every day life.
Tell us a bit about your products.
My main product at the moment are pillow covers using upholstery fabrics. They are durable, stylish, practical if you have a guest or two extra, perfect to lie down on it near the fireplace on a cold day, a floor pillow for your meditation practice or for your pets at home.
Whilst I am able to make custom size pillows, I am also encouraging people to stuff old bed pillows, old towels, clothes, torn bed sheets to stuff them into these covers rather throwing them away so that we can reduce waste which is why my bed covers are a certain shape – but I’m up for anything. Custom orders are exciting!
I also make fabric cuff links, bookmarks and hair pins.
What inspires your work?
My dog Buddy. He’s right next to me right now while I’m typing this at my dining table, snoring softly while lying on his first pillow cover handmade by me. I’ve stuffed it with our old pillows (Luckily I decided not to throw them away when we moved to our new home last year).
Apart from that, I am inspired by beautiful unique fabrics and the story they tell. One of my friend mentioned that one of the pillow cover that she loved reminded her of the Indian saree her beloved grandmother used to wear when she was alive.
What are your future goals for the business this year? What is your dream for this business?
My future goal is to be able to grow my business to a point where it can pay for our family holidays every year. My dream is to be able to have my product in every home out there.
What makes your business stand out from businesses that sell similar products?
1. Encourage waste reduction – use old pillows rather than throw them away!
2. The fabrics are sourced by myself from all over the world and so they are one of a kind, you can’t find them on the high street.
Tell us a bit about your work space. Do you have a separate studio?
I share my sewing studio with my husband’s personal office. It’s in the loft room and we have a beautiful view of a little stream and a huge green where I can watch the seasons change.
It’s a messy place with fabrics, cutting blade, scissors on the table, boxes everywhere and a cupboard filled with fabrics but I tell my husband that creative minds are rarely tidy. He’s a man of science, so he doesn’t get it.
What have you learned since opening your business that you wish you had known beforehand?
What does a handmade real painting, a birthday card, a handmade not so perfect ceramic pot, a self created/infused potpourri or a self designed diamond engagement ring have in common – you don’t just own a product, but you also own the inherent personal touch and emotion that comes from making it. That’s why personally, I try to make it a point to buy my most essential items that is handmade because I know I’ll treasure it more.
I always believe if you want quality products, the best and most economical way is to buy it from the person who makes them because there’s a special feeling that comes from owning owning or giving that items, the fact that it is made with so much care, considerations and all done in the private studio of the craftsmen/women.
Any advice for those thinking about selling on Etsy?
That there’s more to making the products but also getting myself out there in the community via social media. I find myself learning a lot from other people and sharing ideas on how to benefit together.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do to unwind and have fun? Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy cooking with my husband and experimenting new recipes. We love to travel around Europe and bring our labrador puppy with us. I love going for long walks and having meaningful conversations.
What is your favorite quote?
When there is love, nothing is too much trouble, and there is always time.
If you would like to be featured, please go to the CIJ Etsy Forum and fill out the questionnaire. Please note you must be a member of the CIJ Etsy team to be featured.