PETALING JAYA: Many grow out of their childhood hobbies but it was exactly the opposite for Ruzanna Abdul Kadir and Michelle Yeoh.
United by their love for cross-stitch, these two young mothers are now successful entrepreneurs who have turned their hobby into a business called MiruMakes.
And just last year, they were featured in a UK-based cross-stitch magazine called ‘The World of Cross Stitching’, that featured their Malaysian-themed designs in one of their issues.
“We did a whole set of Chinese New Year cross-stitch cards for the magazine, and we felt very proud of this. It was a big achievement,” said Yeoh.
Both avid cross-stitch enthusiasts since young, the two met in a Facebook group that Ruzanna created in 2014 called Cross-Stitch Malaysia as a means to communicate with others who also love the activity.
“In June 2015, Michelle joined the group, and in November she purchased one of my products. We met up two years later and were excited to learn that we had very similar interests,” Ruzanna told FMT.
It was only a matter of time before the new friends realised that there was a lack of Malaysian-themed cross-stitch designs in the market.
So, they did the next best thing and formed a brand of their own called MiruMakes, a combination of the first syllables of their names, Michelle and Ruzana, and the cross-stich they ‘make’.
They began by designing and selling their PDF cross-stitch charts online, taking a short hiatus only when they both became pregnant in 2018.
“However, we were glad to revive our business during the MCO, since most people needed an activity to keep them occupied at home,” said Yeoh, referring to the lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic.
These mompreneurs then took their business to the next level, selling cross-stitch kits to beginners. “It is more economical for beginners to buy our kits which includes everything that you need to start stitching,” said Yeoh.
The kits from MiruMakes include a needle, threads, aida which is a cross-stitch material consisting of a mesh of small holes, a printed design chart, and a stitch guide.
Those who purchase their products online are mostly adults looking for a de-stressing activity with minimal hassle, much like Yeoh and Ruzana did as young women struggling with hectic jobs and family commitments.
“We even cater to experienced stitchers looking to improve their skills, as some of our designs are slightly advanced such as those requiring more knots,” said Yeoh. It also makes for a great gift!
The founders of MiruMakes also emphasise that cross-stitch can be suitable for kids. After all, Ruzanna was only eight years old when she first got hooked and Yeoh, 12 years old.
Recently, MiruMakes held a cross-stitch workshop for children at the KLCC Convention Centre in collaboration with the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia.
“It nurtures patience in kids, and develops their fine motor skills,” they said. They mentioned that their physical bazaars often do well, as they acquire many new customers.
All small businesses face a myriad of challenges and MiruMakes was no exception. “Since everything is hand-made, it takes time”, Yeoh said.
Brainstorming creative and extravagant designs turned out to be the easiest part of the job for this duo.
But figuring out the size of the design, how many elements to add, test-stitching to make sure all the colours are visible, sourcing the materials from local suppliers, cutting it all up, and finally packing every single kit, is what makes it time-consuming.
“We usually split up the job between ourselves to make it easier. For example, Michelle is in charge of the charting and the accounting while I take care of the marketing,” said Ruzanna.
Although they are a small local business, these crafters are inspiringly ambitious. “We would love to put Malaysia on the map in the cross-stitch world,” said Yeoh.