After A Job Loss, This M’sian Smartly Capitalised On A Pandemic Trend Through Embroidery

Losing your job at times like these can really take a toll on anyone’s life. 

However, falling ill and having no choice but to resign from your job at these times is another level of struggle. 

Fathihah Zamri is no stranger to these downfalls in her life.

This year alone, in the middle of a pandemic, she’s been diagnosed with endometriosis and a slipped disc.

An extended medical leave for these back-to-back health complications eventually forced her to resign from her job.

She was working as an Export Sales and Admin Executive in PGF Insulation, Penang.

These challenging times may be her lowest point in adulthood, but Fathihah found the light at the end of the tunnel through her newfound startup, Lafenco.

Lafenco’s embroidery art products / Image Credits: Lafenco

She started Lafenco in June 2020, not too long after she resigned from her nine-to-five.

Her startup sells mask connectors, name embroidery and wedding ring holders with embroidery art on it.

As therapeutic as embroidery was to her healing process, she saw the opportunity to capitalise on her art as well.

Realising Her Talent Through A Newfound Hobby

Growing up with a mother who tailors clothes for a living, Fathihah is familiar with the ins and outs of sewing.

She’d only done beading for baju kurung and lace previously to help with her mother’s business, and picked up embroidery about 5-6 months ago.

During MCO, she found some leftover embroidery thread in her house as well as a hoop which she suspects belonged to her late grandmother.

“It was initially a hobby to do at home and just for fun, but turns out I’m pretty good for a beginner,” Fathihah shared.

Though it took her less than a month to master the basics of embroidery and perfect it, she wasn’t confident enough to show her art to the world at first, let alone sell it.

The process of making her embroidery art / Image Credits: Lafenco

It took some encouragement from her friends, fiancé and family to put her work out there.

Moreover, with the rise of the pandemic and demand for cloth masks and mask connectors, she also realised how she could make some income out of her hobby.

So, she decided to put her newfound hobby cum talent to good use.

Always Looking On The Bright Side Of Things

Because of her slipped disc, Fathihah found herself unable to give her company an answer on how long her medical leave would be.

At the time, she couldn’t sit or stand for more than half an hour, let alone sit in the office for 8 hours, hence the resignation.

Though doing embroidery at home may seem like a more relaxed job, she still found it hard to commit to her new startup in the beginning.

Embroidery required her sitting down for long periods of time as well.

However, being at home gave her the flexibility of taking rests in between her work. 

“I started monitoring the time. I’d lay down after half an hour of work for 15 minutes before I get back to it, and repeat.”

Even though working from home has enabled her to work at ease at her own pace, it’s her love for embroidery that keeps her going. 

“When I’m down I try to think positively and not to give up on my recovery while adapting to this new norm. I want to carry on with embroidery because I love it,” she shared.

Over time, she got better at managing her time and went from producing only 1-2 mask connectors to 5-9 now daily. 

Profitable In A Month

Because of how low her capital is, she became profitable in just about a month already. 

The sum of her threads, button, fabric, packaging and free gifts from July until now amounts to only RM300. 

Lafenco’s packaging, threads and free gifts / Image Credits: Lafenco

Here’s a breakdown of her products and price list:

  • Mask connectors are RM10-18, depending on the customisation
  • Embroidery art with a hoop is RM35-50
  • Wedding ring holders are also RM35-50 

During her first month, Fathihah sold about 30 pieces and is now selling at least 150 per month, including offline sales. 

Her offline customers usually take bulk orders starting from 20 pieces, but her sales fare the best online.

She managed to sell to 3 customers in Singapore last month as well, which were her first international sales. 

Expanding Her Embroidery Range

While she finds joy in spreading and selling her creativity in her work, Fathihah still hopes to get a full-time job when she’s fully recovered and do Lafenco part-time.

As of now, she plans to add book covers to her product range and provide online or offline embroidery classes.

She also plans to connect with higher education institutes, especially UiTM, to mentor any aspiring entrepreneurs among students and college graduates.

“I’m a UiTM Kedah alumni, so it is my dream to be able to help my juniors and UiTM students.”

“By giving them some encouragement based on their passion and interest, I think would help a lot,” Fathihah believes.

  • You can learn more about Lafenco here.
  • You can read about other Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Fathihah Zamri, founder of Lafenco

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