PETALING JAYA, March 8 — Creativity is born in the unlikeliest way. As a film editor, Lynn Wong spends hours in front of the computer without having much time for other activities. So when she finally decided that she should find time for herself, she did what she always loved: crafting.
Growing up, Wong was exposed to sewing through her mother who was her home economics teacher as well as athletics coach! “When I was in primary school, my mother will make clothes for me and ask me to add embellishments to it,” said Wong. The skill of hand sewing comes naturally for Wong as she finds it therapeutic compared to using a sewing machine. Inspired by a bazaar featuring handmade goodies, Wong decided to partner up with a friend to start crafting.
Previously, Wong was making crafts with her friend under another label before she decided to go solo. “It took some time for me to come up with a name because I wanted a name that suited me. My friends commented that I say ‘Pfft’ a lot so I decided to name it ‘Pfft’ which could also mean pretty, fun, fun things!” said Wong. The name evolved to Hello Pfft! when a fellow crafter pointed out that Wong’s email address and brand name were different. The email address had the word ‘hello’ in it but Wong’s site only had Pfft so then she decided to incorporate both to create the name Hello Pfft!
“It sounds more personal, adding a hello to it,” said Wong. So what exactly does Wong make? Hello Pfft! is known for their handsewn envelope pouches, using colourful, patterned fabrics and contrasting lining. Wong also makes sock dolls and crochet figurines in all animal shapes such as bunnies, elephants and owls. They are so cute you want to collect them all and start a toy zoo! “Some of these crafts I learned from YouTube and some of them such as book-binding I learnt from fellow crafters. I also started making dreamcatchers as a present for a friend. I was inspired by Pinterest,” said Wong.
In early February, Wong conducted a workshop on how to make dreamcatchers. It was her first time teaching people how to make things with their hands and she was nervous about it! Before the workshop, her friends reassured her that teaching is in her blood because her mother was a teacher and her father the principal at the school. “After I come home from school, I spent a lot of time doing things with my hands. I was always sewing or making something. I also like electronics and carpentry so I think in the future, I would like to start doing these kinds of things for Hello Pfft!”
Wong supports the local craft industry by buying her fabrics in Malaysia. She is used to buying her supplies from the same people and they have become her good friends. When she first started selling her crafts at bazaars, she was a shy introvert who hardly talked to people. Eventually, after meeting more friends who share the same passion in arts, Wong began to open up to new people.
“I was so shy to the point that I didn’t even talk to my customers or other fellow crafters! Then I met some really nice people who encouraged me and I started befriending people in the same community, taking the time to get to know my customers. From there, I started collaborating with them on projects,” said Wong.
One of the recent collaborations Hello Pfft! did was with Shelby Kho of Bisou Bon Bon, a local cosmetics brand, created with natural ingredients. For Christmas last year, Hello Pfft! designed adorable envelope pouches as part of a cosmetic gift set with Bisou Bon Bon products. The collaboration was a success because many people got to know about Hello Pfft! from there.
Wong stitches the envelope pouches by hand but she uses a sewing machine when there are too many orders. “I don’t really like using the machine as it feels like a production line. I only use it when I don’t have time,” said Wong who still prefers to sew it herself. She likes the feel of the fabric as it relaxes her from the stress of her work.
In Malaysia, crafting is becoming more widespread and there are a number of bazaars in town that feature crafters. “There is nothing truly original in the market. Everything you see has already been done - just that people take that and modify it so it becomes unique. So, there is no point in being competitive. I share my knowledge of crafting with others and I collaborate with them as well,” said Wong who hopes to maybe do video tutorials in the future.
Whatever artwork she makes, Wong does it purely out of love and not to make money. Her day job pays sufficiently and crafting is just a hobby that turned into a project she does during her free time. There was one incident that touched Wong’s heart during a bazaar. It was a busy day and a friend was helping her man her booth. A grandfather passed by Hello Pfft’s booth with his granddaughter when she spotted a crochet rabbit. The little girl wanted the rabbit badly but her grandfather said it was expensive.
“But it is handmade!” the little girl insisted. After bargaining for a suitable price, the little girl managed to take home the rabbit. When the friend relayed the incident to Wong, she hunted the girl down at the bazaar and took a photo of the girl with the rabbit. Wong was amazed that the girl understood the value of handmade goods even though she is young.
It is real life stories like this that inspires Wong to work on different new ways to make nice things. She is now experimenting on another type of fabric, perhaps PU leather to go with her pouches. Sometimes, friends buy her fabric overseas when they travel so Wong gets interesting, exotic designs. There is no replication of products when it comes to Hello Pfft! goodies. She does personalisation too and that is her unique gift to you.
“My goal this year is to make different new products, explore new possibilities and making my brand known. I enjoy crafting and I will continue doing this,” said Wong.