While fashion is meant to be an expression of self, we are often separated under stringent categories such as girly or elegant. Believing that women should not be limited to a singular aesthetic, Lim Re Jean set out to prove this through her earring business, The Tipsy Styler.
“That’s also how I live my life. People are always saying that I’m too dominant or I look too fierce. I may look fierce, but I can be a very warm person as well. In terms of style, I really think women can do anything, but sometimes they’re afraid of people judging them … I really like quirky stuff, but I also like to dress up and look very feminine. I like the combination and I think we can definitely do both,” she stresses.
An earring business was not some thing Lim envisioned for herself after she graduated. She had hopes of becoming a fashion designer, and started working at Zalora to gain work experience first. “As a stylist, I didn’t mind the job but I didn’t like the environment. I like learning new things but I started just repeating the same things over and over again and so, I decided to do something on my own.”
For a challenge, Lim began reselling earrings she sourced from overseas. Slowly, she started making pieces for herself out of polymer clay and resin, just for fun, but people began to take notice. “I made quirky earrings because they were nice icebreakers. I’m an introvert, so that helps. Like when you wear something cute or out of the ordinary, people would ask you where you got it from and you can start a conversation from there,” she says.
Her childhood friend, Chong Yee Leng, who now helps with the accounting and brainstorming side of the business, encouraged her to start making these handcrafted earrings for sale and so, in April 2018, her creative enterprise was born.
The Tipsy Styler, named after the friends’ drinking and brainstorming sessions, stocks classy and elegant pieces as well as a selection of quirky earrings fashioned after beer bottles, cereal boxes and popular food such as curry katsu and bubble tea. Lim’s designs are often created to commemorate key moments in her life.
“We have mannequin earrings and even calculator earrings. That’s for me and my friend, for when I was a stylist and she was an accountant. I made them to remember how we had stepped out of the box, out of our comfort zones,” she says. Last year, Lim even made a Chinese wedding collection to mark Chong’s impending nuptials.
In order to properly introduce her brand to the public, Lim took part in many bazaars and pop-ups. “In the beginning, people were hesitant. But slowly, the more bazaars I participated in, the more people started to accept the concept,” she adds.
The Movement Control Order brought along its own set of challenges. “Before the MCO, we were thinking of running a stall at bazaars for another year, so more people would be familiar with our brand. But it’s harder to do bazaars now because the rental is not cheap and it’s probably better to go online. So, I decided to change my whole business plan and focus on getting consignments and selling online,” Lim explains.
Pre-MCO, The Tipsy Styler had begun attracting customers from overseas, but sorting out the orders and ensuring that parcels arrived at their final destination proved to be another steep learning curve.
In terms of crafting, The Tipsy Styler is a one-woman show and thus, Lim sometimes finds it difficult to get orders out on time. However, while new designs take days to create, once she has a fixed mould, the time she needs to spend is reduced to a few hours per earring, she explains.
Lim has also been trying to learn how to better market her brand online, while keeping up with the increasing demand. Enthusiastic about learning, she has taken up a course to re-evaluate and rejig her marketing strategy. Customers can look forward to more quirky designs and a new collection, which will be released in December.
The Tipsy Styler’s collections really do cater for multiple style sensibilities. “I want to make everybody feel like they’re included. I don’t want to just sell something that’s a niche for a certain group of people. I want everybody to be able to find something that’s suitable for them from my brand,” says Lim.
This article appeared on Sept 28, 2020 in The Edge Malaysia.