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The maker movement is something of a subculture here in the city. More and more people today are turning to tools to make their own things: there are events and markets dedicated to artisans and their handmade, organic jams and soaps; there are studios and spaces out for rent along with electronic kits and clamps, saws and the like; and then there’s DIYKL.
DIYKL is Agnes Leong, 27 and Saran Mutang Tagal, 26; the telecommunications engineer and protection associate duo consider their collective to be in line with the maker movement, but with a twist.
‘Think IKEA for fashion accessories,’ says Saran. Instead of creating and selling jewellery, they design fashion-forward, statement-making DIY jewellery kits, with items, supplies and sparkly things sourced from far and near. If you spot a design for, say, a pair of double pearl earrings on their website, you can buy the kit, not the earrings – and make them at home.
‘We sat down once over lunch, complaining that it was so hard to get DIY supplies in Malaysia, and we were like, “You know what, this is an untapped market.” We both love DIY, and we do understand what the other DIYers are going through – they can’t find jump rings, they can’t find lobster clasps,’ explains Agnes.
‘DIYKL is all about being creative, being crafty. For those who don’t really know what to make, we have tutorials on our website. We design necklaces, rings, bracelets, we prepare all the supplies and tools in the kit and we pack it all up for you,’ says Saran.
‘In Malaysia, we have a tendency to buy and dispose. Fast fashion, you know, they’re made so cheap they last up to a couple of washes, and then you throw them away. When you make something with your own hands, there’s effort, there’s love,’ Agnes adds.
The DIYKL aesthetic is a recurrence of rhinestones, tassels and pearls; the founders source their items locally as well as from their travels – Cambodian fair trade beads, for example, Thai leather and Sarawakian native beads.
‘With fair trade, it’s a win-win for the customers, for us, for our suppliers,’ says Agnes. ‘We try to get limited stuff – with fair trade, you can’t get a lot anyway, you can maybe get 100 or 200 beads a time – because we’re starting to move forward to limited DIY kits, a little more luxurious, more upscale. We’ll see where it goes. It’s all a nice big surprise for everybody,’ Saran smiles.
DIYKL will be at Markets from Sep 26-27.