From researching to making
Here’s introducing Valene, a Chemistry graduate, whose youthful looks belies her actual age. Now the owner of Parade Made, she was once a researcher working in a statutory board of Singapore who then moved on to a career in civil service. Having been juggling work and craft as a sideline for more than two years, she finally took the leap of faith to commit full-time for her passion in making handcrafted stamps.
Chance encounter with stamps
As someone who has been crafting from a young age, dabbling in cross stitching and handmade cards, she revealed that her first encounter with handmade stamps was pure chance. When asked about how she started on it, she replied with a bashful giggle, “I was actually googling for photos of rubber trees, then it just happened that there were some photos of rubber stamps. It was really very random!” These google images struck a chord with her as they got her started on this journey of making handcrafted stamps. On the accidental discovery of rubber stamps, she added, “It really made me very curious and then I was so excited to just try it out!” She then started buying materials online and by drawing inspirations from her surrounding, began to develop her interests and skills in this craft. When asked what other sources does she draw her inspirations from, she replied with a laugh, “Pinterest. Yah. I think I spend too much time on Pinterest.”
A challenging endeavour
It is never easy to cope with a full time work and a sideline and the same can be said for Valene. Living in a country where its workers reportedly work the longest hours in the world, her previous job required her to work late and as a result, she only has weekday nights and weekends to pursue this endeavour.
When she finally decided to take the plunge to leave her job, it was not an easy decision to make. “Being in the public service, your pay is very comfortable. But I felt that if I don’t give it a try, it will be harder as I get older.”, she confessed. Her parents, though, were not as certain of the choice that she had made. “My parents asked me like what are you gonna do if you are gonna quit without a job.” After weighing the options, in the end, she simply went ahead with it.
Her advice for all those who might want to pursue this passion? “You should just do it. Try to stay creative. Keep making and be open to suggestions and ideas from your customers or from your friends. Always be willing to try out new ideas.”
Throughout the few years of making stamps, she has had her fair share of heartwarming moments. “The best request… Oh! It was when I first started. There was a couple who asked me to make a stamp of an elephant and it was used for their baby shower!” She added, with a triumphant smile on her face, “And then after a few weeks, they actually sent me a card that has a stamp of that elephant with a photo of their baby! So I thought, that was like ‘Awwww...’.” We were going “awwww…” too when she narrated that story. When a customer does that — making her a handmade card, it makes her feel really appreciated.
To top it off, she gifted us her very own handmade Epikk stamp! Our first handcrafted stamp! Triple “Awwww…”!
Conversely, she has had to reject several requests before. We asked her what the most difficult ones were. “The hardest ones are those with a lot of texts. Like they want a whole poem (laughing at the thought) for their stamps. And for those, sometimes I have to reject them, cos they are quite impossible to carve by hand and still be clear.” she answered.
Even though she has been doing this for some time, she does not rest on her laurels. She still seeks to improve her trade and constantly trying new things to keep up with these daunting requests. She disclosed to us that she had been experimenting with a new technique recently. “This is a different material, and it is made with the help of a UV lamp. It is a photopolymer that will harden when exposed to light, so it can capture fine details quite nicely.” Long (rubber) wall of text would trouble her no further. We thought that it was fitting for her to have a chemistry and research background to help a little in this respect.
Besides trying out new things, Valene is also eager to learn more about managing her little business. She will be taking up a 5-month long WSQ diploma in creative entrepreneurship that will begin soon. Speaking about the course, she remarked, “hopefully I can learn something more practical on running a business from that course.”
What the future holds
She is currently a one-man (or woman) production team and finds it economically sustainable. However, she has hopes of expanding her business, and subsequently her operations. When probed about the future of Parade Made, she revealed some of her plans for the near future — “I’m planning to have a new line of products that are made with rubber stamps, like notebooks or cards.” The soft-spoken lady also has intentions of conducting classes to pass on her knowledge to would-be stamp makers and is currently in the midst of preparing the class materials.
We wish her all the best and hope that she can spread the ideology of making through her classes!
Want to see more of what Valene has made? Check out her Epikk profile at http://www.epikk.co/parade_made.
Also posted on: http://blog.epikk.co/valene-a-parade-of-things-made-by-hand/
Written by Zavrick for Epikk