For the love of fabrics

19 Feb 2020 / 10:42 H.

JOYCE WONG is the founder and designer of a handbag label named after herself. She makes frame bags ranging from different coloured fabrics, shapes, and hardware.

She started her education in the field of Computer Science, but decided to take a second degree in Fashion Design, and has not looked back since.

Upon graduating from fashion school, Joyce had the opportunity to work closely with a well-known local Malaysian fashion designer as an assistant designer, for around six years. Her job was exhausting, and it soon took a toll on her health.

Joyce then moved on to creating her own garment label, where her clothing was sold in Paris, France. However, the venture did not turned out as planned.

“After two years of handling my own clothing label, and since it was a full investment by my family, it was not sustainable, so I decided to [shut down] my label.

“When I stopped, I had to rethink what I wanted to do. I was depressed, and I felt like I was not where I wanted to be.

“After that, I worked with my family members. During that time, I still had a liking for handmade pieces, so I started to make some dolls out of socks, which made me happy.”

With the encouragement of her friends, she started selling her handmade sock dolls at local bazaars for approximately two-and-a-half years.

However, with the constant increase in bazaar rental fees, selling sock dolls became unsustainable.

“I remember when I first rented a bazaar, it cost around RM80 per day. After a year-and-a-half, the rent increased to RM200 per day, just for a table.

“So if I continued [to make] sock dolls, I wouldn’t earn enough money ... I would end up using my earnings to pay for rent only.

“That is why I was looking to do something that I liked [and could] share with others [which was] also related to the field (Fashion Design) that I previously studied.”

Joyce decided to turn her attention to bagmaking.

“I know which fabric is suitable, the workmanship required, and how to sew a good bag,” she explained.

Joyce is also able to express her love for fabrics.

“I like fabrics. I like the different textures and feel of the fabrics. Also, maybe the stories behind the fabrics.”

Joyce decided to sell frame bags, which she claimed is a timeless style in comparison to trendy and high-end handbags.

“Fashion is a very fast-moving industry. If I want to constantly be in trend, it is very hard. I am doing a one-man show. So, I want something timeless to share with others, and also share the stories behind my creations.

“For me, each customer that browses my handbags actually appreciates what I am doing.”

Despite being her selling point, the concept of handmade bags is so unique that many people still question the price and the originality of her creations.

“They ask me: ‘Are your bags from China, why are they so expensive?’ But, they don’t know that I personally made them from scratch, apart from the hardware. I personally select the fabrics as I have my own taste. I am pretty confident about my workmanship as I was trained to adhere to certain standards when I was working with designers.”

Joyce is also able to provide after-sales services to her customers.

“I will tell my customers, as I myself am also still learning, if anything happens to the bag, just let me know and bring it back. If I can fix it, I will fix it for you.”

Joyce also assures that there is no expiry date to her after-sales services. “If I am here, I will do it for you.”

Since fashion is a very competitive market, Joyce says that passion is what keeps her going. She also loves the support that she receives from her customers.

“When my customers love my handbags and they send me their photos [with] the bag they bought from me, I am really happy.”

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