PETALING JAYA: Most parents want to leave a legacy for their children and Carmen Yee is no exception.
Yee is the owner of Drafts 2 Crafts, a business selling handcrafted items such as hair clips and earrings. And someday, she hopes to pass this business down to her daughter, Yulia Lim.
Although Lim is only two years old now, Yee is already thinking ahead. And that’s because Yulia has Down Syndrome.
Speaking with FMT Lifestyle, Yee, 34, shared that she believes it is important for her daughter to have the option of running the business in the future, and to be equipped with a skill that she can earn a living from.
Passing down the business and her knowledge of making handcrafted items is also something special to Yee as she comes from a family with a deep love for crafts.
Her parents own Yee Button in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, a shop that sells fabrics and tools for needlework. Meanwhile, her younger sister runs ‘The Petite One’, a business that sells handsewn items.
Needless to say, it runs in their blood and someday, she hopes that Yulia will also develop a similar skill.
Growing up, she and her sister spent a lot of time at her parents’ shop. It was an idyllic playground for the sisters – but instead of swings and seesaws, they played with gorgeous fabrics. There, they also developed an interest for entrepreneurship.
In 2014, Yee joined her parents full-time in their business. Then in 2018, she started Drafts 2 Crafts, selling various leather products that she made.
An artisan’s heart
However, making these products at home – which got rather noisy at times – was disrupting her daughter’s sleep. “So, I asked my mother for a sewing machine,” she recalled.
Soon, she was making hair clips and thoroughly enjoying herself! Then came keychains and hair ties that she sold under the brand name Drafts 2 Crafts.
“I also started helping my parents as they supply fabric and other handicraft materials to Kinokuniya and [my products] would be something extra to sell,” she added.
Today, Yee sells more than 15 items, earrings and drawstring pouches among them. Each item reflects her heart for the craft and are “made with extreme care and love”.
“It’s the most satisfying experience when you see an idea in your head being transformed into a finished product. It’s like ‘wow’,” she said with a smile, adding that she uses imported materials such as Liberty of London fabrics that are known for their quality.
Yulia, she added, loves “playing with her stuff”. “When I open my box, she’ll grab something and play with it. She loves it and I guess it’s some exposure for her.”
A mother’s love
From juggling a full-time job at her parents’ shop to running her own business as well as being a wife and mother, one can only wonder how Yee does it all.
She admitted that multi-tasking leaves her with little time to market her products. As such, she is grateful for the support of Persatuan Pembangunan Artisans, an NGO that helps artisans to expand their distribution channels. This is done through an online platform, physical stores throughout the Klang Valley and various pop-up events.
“I am thankful that they have helped to open more channels to sell my products and reach more people,” she said.
So, what’s next for this mumpreneur? Widening her customer base! “I plan to participate in more bazaars and look for partners to sell my products,” she shared.
In the long-term, she added, she hopes to hire individuals with special needs so they can earn their own income while lightening her load.
She also plans to hold craft classes for special needs children. “I believe that they are actually very artistic.”
And so, though the days are busy and tiring, one thing keeps her going – the business she’s building for her daughter’s future.
“She is very much a huge motivating factor for me,” she concluded.
Place your orders for a Drafts 2 Crafts item on Instagram.
Carmen Yee’s hair clips and earrings are also available at:
- Kinokuniya @ KLCC and Siam Paragon, Bangkok
- Yee Button at 169, Jalan SS2/24, SS2, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Read more PPA stories and get to know its artisans here.