·   20 Nov   ·   01:11 PM   ·   4 minutes Read

#LocalBrandSPOTlight: Self-taught Seamstress Goes International With Batik Masks

Credit: Lavender Crafting Corner

Chances are that a decade later, you’ll still remember what it was that you did to pass the time during the Circuit Breaker of 2020. For Etsy shop owner Lynn, it was learning how to sew. An avid arts and crafts enthusiast, she had just decided to switch from scrapbooking to sewing. Her newly acquired skill allowed her batik masks to join the 50, 000 cloth masks that Masks Sewn With Love, a grassroots initiative, dispatched to those in need.

A picture she posted of her masks on Instagram then prompted a question that would change everything, “Can I buy these?”

Credit: Lavender Crafting Corner

Figuring that there was no harm, she made 6 masks and posted a picture of them on Instagram with her prices.

They sold out within the hour.

As demand grew, she set up her shop on Etsy, Lavender Crafting Corner (LCC). Her shop sells not only masks but also notebooks and tote bags. Many of her products feature Peranakan designs and motifs. Since then, she’s often been overwhelmed by the response of her friends, neighbours and fans from all over the world. I spoke with her on the phone, to understand more about her process and the origin of Lavender Crafting Corner.

Question: Q

Answer: A

Q: Hello, thank you so much for giving us some time to talk to you today.

A: No problem, thank you for talking to me.

A photo of Lynn with some Japanese tourists | Credit: Lavender Crafting Corner

Q: Looking at your shop, you seem like a very busy woman. Is this your full-time job?

A: No, I’m also a freelance consultant. I am a licensed professional company secretary for a number of years. I would say that my Etsy store takes up 1/3 of my time.

Q: How did you learn how to sew?

A: YouTube tutorials! I’m self-taught.

Q: Where do you get your sewing patterns or blueprints?

A: I adapt them from the ones in the YouTube tutorials and also, from the masks distributed by the government.

Q: I saw in one of your posts on Instagram, that you decided to gift a hawker who sells roasted meat his own mask. What made you decide to do that?

A: I saw that his mask didn’t fit properly because it kept slipping. I wanted to give him something that would stay on as well as something comfortable because… as hawkers, they work such long hours and they need to wear their masks all day long.

Lynn’s very first mask | Credit: Lavender Crafting Corner

Q: Tell me a bit about your process, from selecting a design to having the finished product in your hands.

A: Making the product is fast but the selection process is what I’d say is the most time consuming. Traveling around Singapore to take photos, doing research at the National Library, choosing the correct patterns, tiles or orchids… It all takes up a lot of time. And then, I still have to make sure each selection is a good fit for the product. For example, my orchid batik series. I had to choose the right orchids to make sure they would look good on the masks. They have to be the right size and colour.

Q: Why Peranakan patterns?

A: I fell in love with Peranakan tiles during a trip to Malacca. When I got back to Singapore, I went around Joo Chiat to look at the old Peranakan shophouses. I’ve since become a collector of Peranakan tiles, which are getting harder and harder to find.

Credit: Lavender Crafting Corner

Q: Tell me a bit about getting started on Etsy.

A: I started by selling notebooks in 2015. I never planned on selling masks. But then, COVID-19 happened. People liked the masks I made so why not? I put my masks up for sale and promised 3-day shipping. I never could have anticipated the amount of orders that came in, especially from the U.S. To fulfil them and get everything out on time, I stayed up sewing until 3am!

Q: Oh no! Do you do all the sewing yourself?

A: Yes.

Q: How about your shop’s name, Lavender Crafting Corner? Where did that come from?

A: I like the lavender plant, a lot. And I like Arts and Crafts. Corner is from… Do you know the movie You’ve Got Mail?

Q: The one with Meg Ryan?

A: Yes, in the movie her shop is called The Shop Round The Corner. Also, corner is derived from the word cornerstone. Which is what people in biblical times used as a foundation and standard building their homes!

Q: Has the response from your customers been a surprise?

A: Yes… I feel so happy when I see people telling me how comfortable my masks are. When I see my makcik friends from the hawker centre tell me they’ll save my masks for wearing on special occasions. I tell them, no need! I’ll make more. But they like them so much.

A hawker with a mask from LCC. | Credit: Lavender Crafting Corner

Q: Thanks Lynn. I know I’ve taken up quite a bit of your time.

A: No, it’s okay! Thank you.

And with that, our interview with Lynn is over. If you’ll like to see more of her crafts, do visit her social media pages, on Facebook, Instagram and of course, Etsy. Follow us on Facebook if you’ll like to see more content like this. And don’t forget to tell your friends about us!