Blurb from the author: I've always been in awe of passionate stories and maybe a little jealous of how people make a living simply by doing what they're passionate about. But I also always wondered if a hobby that has become a full-time job still retains its magic and what hard lessons need to be learned about the whole "Do what you love" shtick.
If you ask an art freak about his favorite form of home improvement, you will likely get a number of answers ranging from scrapbooking to home furniture conversion.
Ask this Malaysian, however, and she would tell you that she chose a smaller expression.
Ling Hooi Yin is the face behind TinyPinc Miniatures – a hobby for which she initially only spent a few hours a day and which then became her full-time job.
Unique craft project
In 2010, it was love at first sight for Ling when she discovered the craft that would change her life.
It was nothing more than the art of molding polymer clay. “First the medium caught my attention. It's so versatile and you can turn it into almost anything, ”said Ling.
of which started as a hobby. Then my girlfriend ordered something for her and
her boyfriend. She was my first customer! Exclaimed Ling.
She started to experiment with more Malaysian delicacies like Char Kuay Teow, Wantan Mee, Siew Yoke, Durian and many more.
The Nyonya kuih (left) and Durian (right) charm / photo credit: TinyPinc
When McDonald & # 39; s released his Nasi Lemak Burger in 2018, one of Ling's pieces for the brand was featured on her YouTube ad "Nasi Lemak Burger – #GengNasiLemak" (see timestamp 0:11).
Fast forward to 6 years later, and their products were sold to fans from France, Russia, Hong Kong and 5 other countries. She has also worked with multinational companies such as Milo, AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines.
But even though Ling loves what she does, she told Vulcan Post that it's not always a walk in the park.
Here are 5 difficult lessons she has had to learn over the years and how she has managed to become one of the most recognizable names in the Malaysian miniature scene.
1. Don't be afraid to strain hard work.
On average, a TinyPinc charm would be between RM50 and RM200.
This may seem expensive at first, but Ling told Vulcan Post that it could take hours to make a single piece.
“Doing something from scratch would normally take hours. I have to go through trial and error for the size, texture, shape and colors. I'm trying to find ways to replicate miniatures more easily, but there are some types of food that only take hours to produce, "Ling said.
Nevertheless, it is generous enough to give the Malaysians a small discount on their products. All TinyPinc products are slightly more expensive in their Etsy shop (which only serves international customers) compared to their website.
The price for M’sians (left) compared to the one on Etsy (right) / Photo credit: TinyPinc
2. The growth of a company can lead to growing pain.
“My hands would hurt from pinched nerves. My therapist told me that it has to happen anyway, so there's nothing I can do to avoid it, ”said Ling, commenting on how her work affected her health.
She said that sitting for hours caused her back, neck, and wrist problems as well.
It didn't help that she was working on the store from her bedroom when she was just starting. This led to an unhealthy work-life balance and impaired their mental health.
However, when she rented her own art studio to get in and out of, her situation improved.
Lings Studio in Petaling Jaya / Photo credit: TinyPinc
Ling also made sure to set limits for himself. "The hours invested may be long, but it is crucial to set working hours in a day."
3. If you come across ignorance, focus on raising awareness.
Despite the name she made for herself, not everyone Ling encounters can appreciate the effort that goes into her craft.
"People thought they were easy to make because they were made of clay. The occasional passers-by at my pop-up booths said it was easy to do and even their children could do it," said Ling.
turned out to be more frustrating when she met customers who tried
haggle over discounts.
So Ling took a different approach. She regularly tries to educate her followers about her creative process by illustrating the methods of making miniatures on social media.
She also organizes art workshops for fans to deal with the background of creating their own miniatures.
One of Ling's miniature workshops on Char Kuey Teow / Photo credit: TinyPinc
4. It is important to diversify income streams.
"The best (of what I do) is obviously the satisfaction of making miniature things and getting the support of random strangers on social media," she said.
But Ling also admitted that the worst thing is her constant concern about the stability of her job.
"I had thoughts like" What if I can no longer use my hands? "Or if there is a really bad economic crisis," What will TinyPinc do? "
Art markets used to be special events for Ling, but as the rents for stands rose, she slowly stopped participating.
To ensure sustainability, Ling had to diversify their sources of income – quickly.
So she set up an account with Patreon, a platform for artists to receive money from her followers through a one-time donation or a monthly subscription.
"Those who subscribe to my Patreon get something new every month at a cheaper price," added Ling.
5. It is good for all bootstrap companies to use Tahan, but it is necessary to have a backup plan.
"Love what you do. If you're there for the money, I'm so sorry you won't get rich if you do what I do."
At the end of the day, Ling is motivated by her fans / Image Credit: TinyPinc
Ling told us that when asked what advice she liked to give to artists who are thinking about something similar.
"Always have a backup plan. If this job fails, you still have an office job to return to. Always have at least 6 months of salary on your bank account, ”she explained.
Bottom line: Turning a hobby into a full-time job definitely sounds great on paper. Regardless, it can still be high in uncertainty and struggle – especially if you do it alone. It may not be the dream job it turned out to be, but if you have the same fighting spirit as Ling, I would say it's worth it at the end of the day.
- More information about other Malaysian startups can be found here.
Selected image source: TinyPinc