Handmade Sarawak Bridal & Event Hair Accessories

As the saying goes, do what you love, you will never have to work a day in your life. Having a lot of friends in the creative line, I find the quote to be especially true for those in the arts. Entrepreneurs also fall into this category; their passion for something is often so great that they can devote all of their time, energy and money to it.

Joanne Tang is someone who embodies the above description. She has been a freelance makeup artist for 13 years, specializing in bridal makeup and creating sets for photo shoots.

“I am someone who has been very passionate about the arts and crafts since I was a little girl, so entering the makeup industry was a no-brainer as it allowed me to thrive and prosper in a creative environment, ”explained Joanne in our interview.

Styling and creating different looks for each client was his pleasure. For her, it was like drawing on a blank canvas every time. In 2019, Joanne decided to take her craft a step further and launched a brand of hair accessories called Orna.Company (Orna.Co), short for ornaments.

A delicate job

From Sarawak, Orna.Co sells handmade trinkets as hair accessories that are suitable for special events or as an everyday adornment. On the brand’s Instagram and Shopee store, you’ll find hand-sewn headbands with floral or feather designs, elegant flower crowns, and dainty bobby pins.

Joanne started Orna.Co at home with 2 family members as they each have to balance full time jobs.

To handle larger orders, accessories are made in advance in a studio they have moved into, ahead of product launches, to ensure that customers can purchase ready-to-use inventory. As with custom orders, accessories require at least one month’s notice, depending on the design.

From art to crafts / Image credit: Orna Company

The self-taught craftswoman explained that her main challenge in creating these pieces was to source her materials, which are imported from all over the world. Taking inspiration from nature, each item is designed and handcrafted from scratch.

Mastering the delicate technique of assembling the parts was his other stumbling block, as they are made of very delicate materials.

Overall, it takes the team 4-5 hours to make each part. “Depending on the design; we can produce about 8 pieces per day and depending on the season we sell about 50 to 80 pieces per month, ”added Joanne.

Priced between RM158-RM258 for headbands and RM135-RM195 for hairpins, I found the products quite expensive. But seeing as some of the accessories include materials like rhinestones and crystals that take up to 5 hours to assemble, the cost seems to add up.

Joanne confirmed this and reiterated that she sources the highest quality materials from various countries. “However, we try to price it as fairly as possible so that our products can reach a wider audience,” she said.

Feel beautiful, even at home

The pieces sit so elegantly / Image credit: Orna Company

According to the product descriptions on Orna.Co’s Shopee page, the accessories are marketed heavily to customers looking for adornments to wear at wedding, maternity, and event photoshoots.

On top of that, Joanne also caters to the mass market of women. So far, she has indicated that her clients have been online with these projected groups.

“Most of our bespoke wedding hairpieces are ordered by younger brides (ages 23-40), while our mainstream product is aimed at women of all ages,” explained Joanne, adding that he there was a 50:50 ratio. buyers from each group.

“We would love to have more young women on board and are excited to share more with them. “

Due to the pandemic and its effects on events, there appears to have been an increase in home weddings, with brides opting for the less elaborate route in terms of decor, attire, etc. So I asked Joanne if she saw this trend causing sales to decrease or increase as well.

She responded that Orna.Co’s sales had declined slightly for their bridal pieces and the team had focused more on promoting sales of their consumer goods. “[This includes] our Wildflower and Ballerina series, where our customers can put on headbands and feel good even at home, ”explained Joanne.

Headbands can be worn anytime / Image credit: Orna Company

Likewise, Joanne’s makeup work also stopped during the MCO, but she saw it as a blessing in disguise as she was able to focus more on building Orna.Co during this time.

More variety for more people

As a small startup, Orna.Co relied primarily on social media marketing and ads to acquire more customers at a lower cost.

Brand collaborations and influencer sponsorship can also be a way for small businesses online to gain attention. While Orna.Co is open to their idea, Joanne explained that the team hasn’t made any plans or commitments yet.

Because Orna.Co is a side business it makes sense as the team of 3 may not have the resources or the time to engage with such methods. Joanne even shared that marketing and creating social media content is one of the team’s biggest challenges.

If increasing brand presence is a goal for the team, it may be necessary for Orna.Co to hire a dedicated brand or social media manager to handle these tasks.

But in the meantime, Joanne told us that they will focus on diversifying their product line to have different variations of accessories, including earrings.

  • You can read more about the Orna company here.
  • You can read more Malaysian startups here.

Image Credit Featured: Joanne Tang, Owner and Founder of Orna Company

David R. Brewer