Ichie of Sukka Project sat down with us for a cup of coffee one Sunday afternoon. One of the co-founders of Sukka Project, she shares with us on why they passionately conduct various arts and crafts workshops and what motivates them to do so.
Sukka Project was started as a platform to channel their love and passion for arts and crafts by doing different creative projects that they learn along the way. You can see them participating and selling their wonderfully hand-made crafts at art markets and they hold various craft-making workshops. Currently based in Kuala Lumpur, their dream is for people to recognise Sukka whenever people see their products and hope to open their own studio in the future back in their hometown in Kota Kinabalu.
Read our previous interview with Fya here, the other co-founder of Sukka Project.
We started Sukka Project two years back, just as a hobby at first. For me I started it because I like crafts and DIY projects. I studied graphic design but was never really into it. I like making handmade stuff from scratch, so I do customise my own stuff.
One day I painted some of my shoes and shirts and decided to post pictures of them on Facebook. It had great reception from my friends, and then from there I received requests to make these things for them as well. And I think that was how it started and how it eventually grew into Sukka Project.
It is the same for Fya as well. The both of us are into craft and handmade items. We met in Kota Kinabalu while attending the same college, and then we both decided to move to Kuala Lumpur to further our studies. After we have finished our studies we started working on these small projects and then we decided to become partners in this whole thing.
We’ve been doing these things for quite a while now and we see that many of our friends liked them. We saw the opportunity to spread it out by selling our stuff at bazaars. Now we’ve expanded our services to include mini workshops, where we basically teach people about the things we do.
Ichie at a craft market
The name Sukka came from the word ‘suka’, which means like. So Sukka with the added ‘K’ is to exaggerate it as if to say “I really love this!”. Our logo is a drawing of two characters – a boy and a girl – Hassan and Molly. For the boy, we chose one of the most common Malaysian names which is Hassan, and for the girl we just decided to go with Molly. Some people like them and we even made and sold paper sculptures of Hassan and Molly. Many people started recognising these characters so we decided to use them as our logo.
The reason why we started doing the workshops is because many people who have seen and bought our products have often asked how we make them. Our products are very unique and when we tell them that we make our items out of paper mache, they are shocked! They were surprised because they didn’t realise that our products can be made out of paper mache. We do many things with paper mache like flower pots and wobbly heads.
Besides paper mache, we also make plushies. People thought that we printed and mass produced them, but no – each of them were hand painted and sewn by ourselves, and we spend many hours to do them. So many people have come to us and asked us about it, and that’s when we thought why not share it through workshops.
Running the business has its ups and downs. We’re still young and we didn’t know anything about business when we started. Before this we were only involved in design. It is really tough to run this business and to be in this market. However things are looking positive. I do notice that this craft making business in KK is growing well. Design in KL is not the same as in KK. In KK, people love taking traditionally made items and turning it into something new.
Some people have the perception that our things are supposed to be cheaper because they are handmade – that anything handmade should be cheaper than their mass produced counterparts. However there are also people who appreciate and know the value of these handmade items. They know the time and effort put into making our products. Some people still do not understand the value of it. For those who know, they don’t mind spending the money. It’s not like our products are expensive – in fact they are quite affordable. It is difficult to get everyone to understand the value of these handmade items, so that is why we have the workshops. We found out that when people make these products themselves, they will come to realise why handmade items are more expensive because of the time and effort that they use to make these products.
Birthday activities – plushy workshop
Our workshops consists of paper mache, plushy and puppet making. The most popular one is the plushy making workshop which attracts all kinds of people to attend, from adults to teens and kids. We conduct these workshops because we want to share our knowledge.
We do sell our products – tote bags, plushies, paper mache items, and stationery. For now we sell our products online and at bazaars, but we do want to open a small studio so it’s easy for us to do our work and hold workshops as well.
Products on display at an art market
Our main customers at first were just our friends. They would keep asking us to make things for them and eventually their friends would see our products. When we posted pictures of our work on Facebook and Instagram, that’s when we received more requests. We saw this as an opportunity to start Sukka.
The most rewarding thing for us? When people realise and understand how much hard work is put into creating handmade products after attending our workshops. It really makes them much more interested in our products. We’ve always said that you can achieve so much even with just the basics of craft making. You can really see it from their faces that they’re all really interested. It’s amazing when they say that they will bring more people to attend our future workshops or to hear them say that they would love to attend it again. And it is so satisfying to see their expressions when they make their own things and they’re really happy to see it.
So many of the workshop attendees have no background or knowledge on art. We just give them a blank canvas and tell them that they can draw whatever they want on it. Those who say they don’t know how to draw or don’t know what to draw, always end up with really great drawings. It just makes them even more interested in art.
My advice to people is this: just believe in yourself even if everyone said that it’s not going to work. Don’t care about what people say and just do whatever you love. A lot of people have said things to us like whatever we’re doing is not useful or it just doesn’t make any sense. In the end, doing what you love is worth everything. Do whatever you feel like you want to do because you decide what to do with your own life. Just don’t think about the negativity!
Fya (left) and Ichie (right)
Don’t forget to read our interview with Fya!