Those who have been working from home for the duration of the lockdowns will find it difficult to imagine a life otherwise. While reality may have appeared out of joint in the beginning, the new normal quickly lost its novelty a couple of months in. What was supposed to have been a temporary working solution seems perpetual and many companies are considering switching to remote or hybrid work models indefinitely.
That is not to say it is a bad idea — a substantial number of people prefer it this way, having benefitted from the arrangement. Besides, most of us have already invested in a home workstation, are experts in videoconferencing and well-versed in online-meeting jargon (read: “quaranteam”, “Zooming” and “please unmute your mic”). Some have even mastered the art of waist-up fashion.
The work-from-home wardrobe is tricky business and striking the right balance between style and comfort can be a challenge. But scroll through Vogue or any Instagram fashionista’s feed and you will realise that the key to looking put-together is accessorising, be it with an heirloom necklace or a favourite pair of earrings.
Trends are fleeting so it is always better to invest in classic and versatile pieces that last when it comes to everyday wear. That is essentially the ethos of local jewellery brand Anting by Camilla, but Camilla Faris, its eponymous founder, also hopes that her products can be of sentimental value to customers.
“Essentially, I want my customers to have sort of an emotional — but healthy — attachment to the jewellery and create memories with it,” says the 24-year-old Sabahan. “For example, my White Pearl Dangle Earrings — I’ve used them for four birthdays straight, my graduation and my first date with my boyfriend. I think when you attach that sentimental value to the jewellery, you begin to appreciate it more.”
Camilla describes her taste in jewellery as minimal, classy and endearing, the sort that she struggled to find in the market a few years ago when she was looking for a pair of earrings. “It was either really simple studs or va-va-voom-ish earrings,” she shares. “There was nothing in between. So, I decided to hand-make my own.” Camilla was still in university then, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. She eventually started selling her pieces to friends and family. “Unexpectedly, things picked up pretty quickly. I was on campus and my friends would pass the word along.
“Evidently, I didn’t plan on making this my full-time job,” she laughs, referring to the name of her brand, which is Malay for “earrings”. “Now, I’ve ventured into other sorts of jewellery.”
Currently, Anting offers a fairly good selection of necklaces, bracelets, anklets, rings and, of course, earrings adorned with Bornean pearls, glass crystals and semi-precious stones. Without being ostentatious, the pieces possess a quiet and demure beauty that warrants a double take.
“I take inspiration from my everyday life,” says Camilla on creating the pieces. “For last year’s Raya collection, the colour palette was inspired by the arrangement of my clothes hangers.” She recalls fondly a discontinued collection, which tapped into the healing energy of stones. “I was going through a rough patch and listed down all the pain points that I needed to work on myself and sourced the specific stones that resonated with what I needed. I hope to bring that healing energy in the form of jewellery.”
Since then, Anting has had many collections, in addition to a rebrand in April to refine its style and identity. A considerable amount of attention has been placed on improving user experience on the online site where purchases can be made. Customers — or Anting Babes, as they are fondly called — can shop by category, colour or material and gifters can navigate the curational edits, such as For Her, For Mum and Can’t Go Wrong gifts, to assist in their decision-making. Prices are kept affordable so more people can make memories with the jewellery, as intended.
Another thing close to her heart is championing local brands. Midyear, Camilla started her own campaign that featured small businesses on Anting’s platform. “I have a lot of small business friends and times are tough. Anting was definitely affected by the pandemic, so I wanted to support fellow owners who may need a little boost.”
When Covid-19 hit, Camilla faced issues with production as the local artisans and stores she worked with and sourced materials from were not allowed to open. “I had to find alternatives that didn’t compromise the quality and I couldn’t hire any photographers to do my shoots. It was definitely a learning curve.
“I know my platform isn’t all that big, but I wanted to help with whatever limited resources and experiences that I have. I think from that little exposure I’m able to provide with my platform, it could boost their confidence — because I know I needed it when business was tough.”
But with that comes a fair amount of pressure, she admits. Anting is still very much a one-woman show, after all. On top of hand-making the jewellery, handling customer service and packing and shipping, Camilla also manages the social media account and has been the photographer and stylist as of late.
She credits her incredible support system with keeping her sane. “When I think about the highlights, of course, I think of all the support I’ve received from day one up until now,” she smiles. “But I think that wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for my family.” She remembers overwhelming moments during peak seasons and how the women in her life came to her rescue.
“I always seem to be shorthanded because obviously, I only have one pair of hands. My family would really go out of their way to help me,” she shares emotionally. “Before Covid, I did pop-ups and my mother and sister would be my store assistants. Despite having very little knowledge, they tried their best to explain the products to potential customers. When there’s heavy traffic, even my grandma would come and help me.
“I would like to think of Anting as sort of a family business. Not many people know that the help I get is actually from my family.”
Another thing many might not know about is Anting’s upcoming collection, scheduled to launch at the end of this month. Due to the soaring number of Covid-19 cases, this time, Camilla will be directing, photographing and modelling the collection herself. “I’ve been working on it for more than four months now. Hopefully, everything comes through. I’m actually very nervous.”
Her only hint: “Since the Hannah Herringbone Necklace has been such a popular pick [because it’s sweat-, swim- and shower-friendly], it’s going to be a collection of pieces that you never need to take off.”
This article first appeared on Sept 13, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.