Options: Congratulations on launching Kaimirra Tutan in Malaysia. Tell us a little about the brand and its history.
Damien Foo: Thank you! It’s been 10 years in the making, but we’re extremely proud to officially showcase our unique Kaimirra Tutan designs and ammolite gems to the world. We’ve spent the last decade actively sourcing the right gems and precious metals, as well as finetuning our craftsmanship so that our pieces truly celebrate these amazing gems. With the launch of our flagship boutique at Mid Valley Megamall, we’re glad we have a physical storefront that embodies our mission to celebrate the finer things in life.
What does its name mean though?
Kaimirra Tutan roughly translates as “an appreciation for the finer things in life” in ancient Egyptian.
What made you fall in love with ammolite? It’s an unusual gemstone.
It is indeed unusual. When we discovered ammolite, we were immediately drawn to its iridescent colours and intense history. Ammolite gets its name from ammonite fossils found primarily in the Bearpaw Formation in Canada. After going through an incredible amount of pressure and heat over a span of 70 million years, the fossils developed into this beautiful gem that we see today.
What are Kaimirra Tutan’s customers like?
Our customers are fun, bold, and stylish — they’re looking for an exciting way to show their personalities and they aren’t afraid to venture outside the norm.
What was your career path like before venturing into jewellery?
I worked in sales and marketing for over a decade, which gave me the skills needed to understand our audience better. This has also helped sharpen my people skills and learn how to service our clients with humility.
What was your childhood ambition though?
I actually wanted to be an astronomer when I was growing up. I’ve always had a fascination with space and the “Great Unknown”. I think there’s a sort of understated beauty in the vast expanse of outer space and I’ve always wanted to learn more about it.
It’s not easy to build a business or a brand. What advice can you share with would-be entrepreneurs?
Build a good team around you and be willing to put in the hours to make things work. I’ve been fortunate enough to have strong people supporting me throughout this period. I strongly believe in working on-ground with my crew, especially when they need extra hands; but it’s all part of growing trust — I know they have my back and they know I have theirs. I also don’t believe in micromanaging ... it’s possibly the worst thing you could do as an entrepreneur. Ensure that details are checked and a high standard of quality is obtained, but don’t force yourself into every small decision.
How do you relax when you are not working?
When I’m not at work, I make sure to spend quality time with my family. They’re my support system and I’m lucky to have them by my side. I also enjoy a good shot of scotch, namely The Macallan and Talisker!
What are you reading right now and why?
I’m currently reading Good to Great by Jim Collins. It’s been a helpful tool for me in my journey to becoming a better leader and to establishing a little more discipline in my life. As the author rightfully says: “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.”
What are you listening to right now and why?
I’m listening to a few podcasts, namely Bundyville, Cold and Joe Rogan. I enjoy a good true crime story and Rogan’s podcast keeps me up to date on current events.
What are your upcoming travel plans like?
I’m hoping to visit Japan, Dubai and, possibly, Thailand for work. Next year will likely see me visiting Hong Kong for the first time in ages!
Describe a perfect weekend for you.
In a digital age, my ideal weekend is when I’m able to completely disconnect from devices so that I’m more present with my family. It’s easy to get sucked into work, especially when everything can now be done on the phone! But getting a chance to disconnect in order to reconnect best describes my perfect weekend.
This article first appeared on Oct 24, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.