PETALING JAYA, Aug 17 — Artisanal handbag seller Linden Leong had a corporate career for 25 years before quitting her job to do what she loves - designing bags.
Having only learnt to use the sewing machine four years ago, she told Malay Mail that she always loved fashion and making handbags, and dreamt of having her own creative social enterprise.
“I started designing bags as a hobby first before deciding to do it full-time last year.
“It definitely took a lot of time as I had to think about how to promote the bags and come up with designs using materials using batik, floral designs and even jeans material.
“But I was excited to embark on a new chapter doing something different.”
While selling her handbags in a physical store last year, she met Jade Lee, founder of The Artisans Haven (TAH) who asked her to feature her handmade bags on TAH’s virtual mall.
Anyone who joins as a tenant with TAH would pay as low as RM25 per month while TAH team will support them in the areas of e-commerce, digital marketing and business consulting.
This year, TAH has come up with a revamped e-commerce platform and aims to bring in an incremental revenue of at least RM1 million and targets to increase its sellers in the next year through collaboration with various partners.
At this point, Leong only has a virtual bazaar with TAH meaning her products are only displayed on the virtual mall without the e-commerce feature.
“But I’m thinking of leveraging TAH’s e-commerce retail and payment technology as it can facilitate easier shopping for customers.
“Secondly, as a small business owner, I don’t need to invest in my own e-commerce technology as it might be a large investment compared to the size of my business at this point in time.
“As such, I’m thinking of placing more products on their marketplace (e-commerce),” she said.
Sellers hope to increase profits through improved e-commerce platform
Another TAH tenant Koh Boo Thiam, who is current director of MamaGinger Powders that sells ginger powder said that he still puts his hope in e-commerce although his sales have not been great.
“Sales-wise, only five to eight per cent of our customers have purchased our ginger powder.
“However, we have benefitted in terms of promoting the ginger powder in platforms such as exhibition in The Link Kl and various Facebook Live sessions with the help of TAH’s marketing team.
“Even during the Facebook sessions, we have received inquiries from new customers about our products and gained insight to market our products offline amid the pandemic,” he said.
He hopes that through the new e-commerce website, he is able to get a 15 to 20 per cent increase in his ginger powder sales.
Yap Tit Sinn, founder of Eumicare, a business that sells sanitisers, said that he too believes that the team behind TAH will continue to help small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and artisanal sellers.
“While TAH is still new, what is special about the marketplace is that the team is doing their best to help us artisanal sellers market our products through various platforms.
“TAH not only helps small and medium businesses, artisanal sellers but also disabled sellers and that was the reason why I chose to promote my business on its platform.
“I aspire to get a 20 per cent increase in my sanitisers sales through the revamped e-commerce website,” he said.
A platform to network and gain more exposure on various marketing platforms
Nick Tan, founder of Binasinar, a retail shop showcasing hand-made and artisan items such as casual daily wear and beach swimwear is positive that the new e-commerce platform will help garner his sales.
“As someone who loves fashion, I have met many sellers and even connected small business owners through TAH’s platforms during the past year.
“Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses nationwide have slowed down but the TAH team is busy collaborating with brands in order to help small businesses.
“But the TAH team have even personally bought my products to show their support and I can see the effort and dedication they are doing. It will take time but I have hope in them,” he said.