Here’s one feisty and gorgeous team of women who’ve started a unique home based fashion accessory store called Handy Trendy and The Lifestyle Portal is proud to present to you their story!
We chatted with the main founder (who modestly gives credit to her sister, daughter and friend) of Handy Trendy about their journey so far.
Meet 39-year-old Dubai-based Alma Begic a Bosnian by origin who along with her sister, friend and daughter have started this unique, fun and a fashionable journey called Handy Trendy.
This is a story of you and me, of every mother and a sister – who out of sheer will power, determination and dreams have created something so beautiful out of the ordinary.
Alma starts by telling us about her 16 years of professional business experience in procurement, materials control and operations, however, jewellery making and sewing have always been her passion.
“I’m also a self-taught “artist” and I love to draw. I believe in “handmade” over “commercially bought” and I try to always make things before I (have to) resort to buying”, smiles this lovely lady.
Other team members of Handy Trendy are 35-year-old Almira Jaranovic and 43-year-old Jasna Djuric both from Bosnia who pitch in with their creative inputs and helping hands.
Alma’s daughter, Nadia Begic, is the youngest member of the Handy Trendy team, but not the one with less passion or creativity. She is 7 going on 17 and she keeps a record of regular Handy Trendy meetings and designs beautiful picture frames and bracelets. She has not missed a single Handy Trendy event yet! [scg_html_choclate] – That’s a little candy for the little princess from The Lifestyle Portal.
“Almira is my sister and Jasna is our mutual best friend. They have been literally obsessed with crochet since I know them! They are my crochet masters and crochet teachers. All I know about crochet – I learned from them,” smiles Alma.
How did it all begin?
Alma and her sister always played with the idea of starting something of their own, but since they both live in two different continents (Alma and Nadia in Dubai, Almira and Jasna in Bosnia) it was a challenge to start something. They did start planning something in spring last year, but a firm decision was made after her daughter’s 2nd-grade school project in October 2012. She had to present clothing made of different materials and used for different occasions, so the ladies came up with the idea to show crocheted and knitted items.
“Parents and teachers were impressed with the items we presented and they asked us when we would plan to start selling these products, and that was it! With needles in our hands and our heads put together (through Skype mostly) – here were are! ” recalls a proud Alma.
You’ll notice how Alma and her sister Almira progressed gradually step-by-step systematically. It just goes to show that apart from an idea and skill, you also need to plan things well to be able to move ahead be it in life or work.
She tell us, “My sister has been crocheting and knitting for more than 20 years. She has an enviable stock of yarn, threads, wool and silk that we were ordered to deplete by (it’s a joke ;), my sister has threads and needles all over the house, in storage, in bags… so we joke that her husband ordered her to “deplete” – use up – the stocks ;)) certain other family members. We then put together around $1,000 to buy materials and tools that we needed for turning crochet into jewellery. Since then we put aside around 20% from each sale for “operating costs” and supply replenishment. It has worked well so far. We are adjusting as we go.”
While they mastered crocheting and knitting the girls knew exactly which yarn to use for what when it comes to “purely” crocheted and knitted items. It has taken some time to learn how to make crochet work well with other materials that they use to make jewellery, such as silver, leather, different fabrics, glue, etc.
“We’re on a good track now but sometimes I find it challenging to purchase everything we need since we are fairly new to this market,” admits Alma.
“The back of our business card says: “OLD crafts + NEW ideas = Just what you need TODAY”. I think that we do a great job converting items made using old craft like crocheting into modern designs that customers want today. We often get comments from our customers – ‘I never thought of buying an item like this, but now I don’t take it off at all!’ or ‘I had no idea that you can make something pretty like this with needle and yarn!’” beams Alma with pride!
The process – from start to finish
The girls begin by purchasing raw materials all over the world right from crochet yarn, silk, wool, and similar materials, which are mostly bought in Bosnia since Almira is very familiar with this market.
Alma further adds, “I work during the day, so I struggle with market research for raw materials in Dubai (I would need to have a lot of time on hand to drive around Dubai to find vendors, but unfortunately I don’t have that time). My Handy Trendy work is done at night when kids are asleep, so I mostly order raw materials online.”
Handy Trendy creates jewellery, belts, hair décor (clips, headbands, etc.), crochet doilies, pillows, shawls, purses, picture frames – the best part being, they come up with new ideas frequently. At the moment Alma is working on ideas for mirrors and lampshades – so we at The Lifestyle Portal are looking forward to seeing the finished products! 😀
“Depends on the size of the item and type of material used” explains Alma. “I have seen my sister working on a tiny little flower around 1 cm in diameter for 2 hours because it is done with a smallest needle and “complicated” silk. On the other hand – you can make (crochet) 10 flowers around 4-5 cm in diameter in 2 hours with “regular” yarn and needle.”
Also, items that require creating patterns or reading patterns may take longer to make. Sometimes they focus purely on crochet like making flowers, hearts, etc. for days, then they put the items on the design table and work on designing final products for days, only then they proceed with actually putting all the items together to make the final product, which also can take days.
“But even then the work is not done – there is picture taking, picture formatting, posting on our official Facebook page, promoting items through sharing links on different pages/groups. So it takes quite an effort to do “the whole package” – but it is fun and that’s why we do it!” says Alma with enthusiasm.
Alma shares, “I see inspiration in everything: people, nature, everyday objects, toys, art… My daughter played with a plastic pumpkin the other day – I got inspiration for Halloween themed items. I emailed few drawings to my ladies, and 10 days later we had a small Halloween collection of “trick or treat” purses for kids, pumpkin napkin rings and coasters!”
The price is established based on the cost of material that is used for items, size and hours invested in making the products. The range of earrings, for example, is from 30-80 dirhams. Belts can range from 60 – 250 dirhams (that’s approx. 900/- INR to 4,000/- INR)
Market and Sale
Alma is honest about it: “Marketing, selling and promoting – is still work in progress. It is mostly done by me and as I said I work during the day, so it is a struggle to market during evening hours (through our Facebook page mostly) and to sell on weekends. I have done sales at home and on small community fairs so far. I’m looking forward to creating professional web page, and to find a permanent solution for sales and expand our customer base, but I have to admit I did not have enough time to work on this. This is at the moment one of the highest priorities on our ‘To Do’ list.”
“Response has been great! That’s what keeps us motivated. We have quite a number of returning customers and new customers are coming in slowly, but they are always impressed with our work. No celebrities so far, but we look forward to starting cooperation with few. Any advice you can offer?” finishes Alma with a grin on her face.
Alma shares with some reluctance, “Hmmm, let’s see how to do this one… I have always been very private about my efforts to help others, I like to do it without too much talk about it.
I believe in sharing and that what you give comes back to you in one form or another. I’m little selfish in my “helping others” efforts – because I do it for me too, it makes me feel good, happy like I fulfilled some purpose… So I insist on extending this helping mode onto the Handy Trendy as well.”
Handy Trendy puts aside 5% from each sale and when the opportunity arises they donate to people in need. They either hear about someone who needs help from friends and family or there is always a cry for help on Facebook for someone. Depending on the occasion, they either donate directly to the person in need or through the wire transfer. They post information about donations on their Facebook page as well.
Become a ‘Handy Trendy’ Fan:
To view the entire range of Handy Trendy products and keep up with news and events, follow them on Facebook today: https://www.facebook.com/HandyTrendy2012
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