FASHION blogger and stylist Evan Yap channels his creativity and passion for fashion through his jewellery brand WEARMASQUAD.
The 16-year-old is a high school student by day, and a fashion enthusiast during the rest of his free time.
At such a young age, Yap converted his love for edgy jewellery into a means to create a more financially stable life for himself without relying on others. He sources his materials online and handmakes the jewellery himself, piece by piece!
Yap shares his thoughts on the overall image of his jewellery pieces.
“I would use [the term] ‘diversity’ to describe my brand. Some of my products lean towards the grungy and edgy style, which can be seen through my designs such as the Padlock Necklace. Other than that, some of the products are more like aesthetic grunge with a touch of femininity. So it’s hard to categorise my brand as one particular style.”
Some have wondered about the inspiration behind the name of Yap’s brand.
“Basically WEARMASQUAD means: ‘Where’s My Squad?’ In this era of many trendy fashion styles, WEARMASQUAD’s type of jewellery is not usually everyone’s cup of tea, as some might think that the pieces are weird and exaggerated,” Yap explains.
“Most of my peers don’t really enjoy this type of jewellery as they are more accustomed to the idea of vintage and classy designs. The idea behind my label was in hope of gathering all the ‘odd’ individuals together to celebrate uniqueness,” Yap adds.
Yap admits that financial struggle was the main motivation behind starting the online-based jewellery label.
“I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth,” he says. “[The desire] to ease my parents’ burden is what actually motivated me to start my own business.
“My family was not very well off financially, and because of that, my parents rarely gave me any allowance for school [from the time] I was 13.
“One night – I remember that it was around 2am – I texted a close friend of mine, telling her that I wanted to start a small online business and she supported my idea. As a 14-year-old teenager at that time, I had zero knowledge about managing a business.
“Thankfully, another of my friends, who is a businesswoman, prepared me with the basics of entrepreneurship, and helped me a lot throughout my entire journey. It was a bittersweet experience. To this day, I’m still very grateful to her, even though we rarely keep in touch nowadays.”
At the moment, WEARMASQUAD is fully an online store. Yap shares: “I actually did consider opening a physical store, and hopefully [will] in the near future when the business is more prosperous!”
Yap’s business was inspired by another online jewellery brand.
“As for my role model, Dust and Stardust (@ophelia101) on Instagram is one of the brands that I look up to in the fashion industry.
“They’re a South Korea-based jewellery brand. They have the coolest and most incredible jewellery designs of all time!”
Although Yap started small, he shares: “The responses from people about my label are not bad! Seeing appreciative and positive reviews from my customers really gives me immense joy and satisfaction!”
Every venture comes with its own set of struggles. As a young designer, Yap learned to manage his funds through his experiences.
“Based on my situation, cash flow management (CFM) is one of the challenges that I have to encounter in order to make my brand a success. CFM is a very common reason why small businesses are not able to sustain [themselves].
“During the growth period, you have to spend money to make money, but this concept can leave you in a precarious position if you don’t manage your cash carefully. I experienced this situation when I first started the label.
“Even if I made some earnings, it was always not enough because there was no proper management. From that mistake, I learnt my lesson. So, to anyone who wants to be their own boss, always remember to prepare cash flow projections.
“An accurate cash flow projection can alert you if trouble is about to arise. If your small business is in a shortfall situation, it doesn’t mean you fail as an entrepreneur. Identify the problems, and find a solution. You should never ever give up!”