SERDANG: Many women love fashion accessories, but Dr Nalini Velaitham took her love for it to another level when she started a business selling handcrafted fashion pieces.
It started in 2018 when she tried her hand at recycling some of her old accessories. She enjoyed the process so much, she decided to start a business selling handcrafted accessories made from beads – aptly naming her new endeavour, Dr. Beads!
“I’ve always been interested in business,” the 39-year-old told FMT.
She added that after completing a bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery (MBBS), she pursued an MBA. Prior to starting Dr. Beads, she ran a candy and clothing business, in addition to helping at her family’s restaurant.
In 2020, after the pandemic started, she received an enquiry if she had any accessories made from copper.
“I did my research and found out that such accessories exist abroad. Maybe it was my risk-taking personality, but I thought I would give it a try,” she recalled.
She began to learn the craft through YouTube videos. And after posting pictures of her handicraft on social media, she was blown away by the positive response she received.
“It was just a simple ring made with copper and gemstones. It boomed. People started ordering and I realised that there was a very good demand for copper accessories,” she said, adding that among the reasons for its popularity is because copper is hypoallergenic, making it suitable for those with sensitive skin.
A calling for copper
Today, she sells a variety of copper accessories for women such as bracelets, rings, necklaces, earrings, anklets and bangles. There are also accessories for men such as bangles, rings and chains.
Some of these products are adorned with different types of semi-precious gemstones such as tiger eye, amethyst, rose quartz, lapis lazuli and freshwater pearls. Each of the accessories is meticulously handcrafted.
According to Nalini, the copper is sourced locally while the pearls come from Sabah. The gemstones, she added, are imported from overseas.
To make these accessories, she uses a technique called “wire-wrapping”. “For example, this is a straight wire, which we will wrap around the gemstone to make it into a ring,” she explained.
Today, she has customers from all over the world – Singapore, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.
To keep up with the orders, she is assisted by a team of women whom she has trained. Her present team, she added, are all mothers, as she hopes to provide an opportunity for stay-at-home mothers to earn an income.
Additionally, she also conducts basic jewellery-making workshops and provides jewellery repair service. She can also help modify a piece of jewellery by converting it into another design.
It’s clear that this entrepreneur and mother of three children, aged 11, 10 and six, has her hands full! Nevertheless, she is thankful for the support of her husband, Gunaselan Reddy.
She also appreciates the assistance from Persatuan Pembangunan Artisans, an NGO that helps local artisans to market their products and this is done through its online platform, physical stores and pop-up events.
“They give me an opportunity to increase my distribution channels,” she said, adding that this is helpful as her studio is situated in Seri Kembangan and the location may not be accessible for many people.
On what motivates her, she shared: “I’m happy when I make jewellery. It gets better when people say nice things about it. That they really loved it, and they want to get it for their mothers or sisters. Their feedback motivates me a lot.”
Dr. Beads Craft Studio
No. 2-2 (2nd Floor)
Jalan Equine 1D
43300 Seri Kembangan
Contact 012-463 9500 to make an appointment before visiting.
For enquiries, send an email to [email protected].
Read more PPA stories and get to know its artisans here.