Image: The Bruneian

Handling very fine wiring and tiny beads can be a challenge for the butter-fingered. But with one hand holding a wire cutter and a needle-nose plier in another, local jewellery maker Farah Hussin found joy in every step of making her own jewellery piece.

Resting her arms on the table, her hands steady, the founder of Heartbead carefully strings colourful beads along the wire to create stunning wearable pieces.

The home-grown jewellery business handcrafts one-of-a-kind and intricate pieces such as bracelets, necklaces and rings from handpicked materials and colourful beads she collected from all over the world.

On a regular day, Farah would spend most of her time producing new pieces, packages them with personalised messages before making deliveries to her customers while also creating aesthetic content for Heartbead on Instagram.

Image: The Bruneian
Image: The Bruneian

She has been making jewellery for most of her life, but she began dedicating herself to the process full-time only one and a half years ago.

Farah’s first interest in jewellery started off when she was 16 years old when she gave new life to her mom’s old jewellery collection.

“I have always loved collecting jewellery. We would have a lot of old jewellery at home and I would always try to make them into newer pieces,” she said.

Her very first creation was a bracelet which she started off from materials bought from a local bead shop in Brunei.

It was not until her years studying nutrition in Brisbane, Australia that she discovered pliers and wires as her medium of choice.

Image: The Bruneian

Born in a heartbeat

Farah had limited knowledge about jewellery making which led her to learn from YouTube and browsing through Pinterest for some tips and tricks. But what helped her most were her travels.

Her love for travel and fashion can be seen in her work – with influences from different parts of the world allow her to bring culture and colour into her designs.

The self-taught entrepreneur continued creating jewellery and discovered her signature style along the way. With that, Heartbead was born.

Image: The Bruneian

Established in 2013, the name Heartbead was a clever take on the word “heartbeat” but according to Farah, the name was actually inspired by the popular Enrique Iglesias’s song of the same title.

What started as a productive way to pass time slowly gained a sustainable following. 

First from her own family and friends then once she saw the positive feedback from her customers on Instagram, she saw the potential to make a full-time career out of her creations.

Farah creates pieces with a classic feel of femininity, describing her designs as “simple, minimal and meaningful”.

Image: The Bruneian

The elegant sterling silver gold with white drop bracelet has become a signature piece for Heartbead, and a favourite of many customers.

“I think that Asian skin goes perfectly well with the colour gold,” said the 28-year-old who works mostly with gold-coloured items. 

Image: The Bruneian

The artisan started off experimenting daring colours to her collections. However, as the years pass and with the ever-changing trend in jewellery designs, she sticks to a more neutral tone of colour.

Farah would put her heart and soul into creating each piece, constantly experimenting with different materials. 

Some of her designs would only take 10 to 15 minutes to complete – a skill that is fine-tuned from years of dedicated craftsmanship.  

Customisation at heart

There is nothing like making a statement with your own personalised jewellery; whether with your initials, a special symbol or your favourite colour that expresses your individuality. 

Heartbead offers customers the freedom to customise the length of the necklaces and bracelets as well as choosing their own charms.

Image: The Bruneian

According to Farah, the majority of the sales are from her made-to-order items.

One of Heartbead’s popular collections is called ‘Vie’ – a personalised gold plated bracelet where customers get to choose their own birthstone according to their month and an initial of choice.

Image: The Bruneian

When Farah begins the design process, she would ask for the customer’s ideas and vision, then takes notes and makes a sketch.

“The process is exciting,” she said, “one customer came in with a shark tooth and wanted me to design it into a necklace so they could wear it every day,” she said.

What’s interesting, Heartbead also offers complimentary engraving; from jawi to cursive initials, embossing to rustic-styled gift-wrapping, customised card services as well as repair and cleaning services. 

From online to offline, with love. 

The jewellery business had its first debut online via Instagram and it recently opened its first physical store located on the first floor of Little Soho in Batu Bersurat.

For Farah, her loyal customers are the reason behind the opening of her brick-and-mortar store. 

She believes that customers enjoy coming to the store to savour, taking their time to try out the jewellery items on display.

Stepping into the newly opened store is like walking inside a modern jewellery box. The light-coloured wood and glass create a neutral backdrop where the intricate items become the main focus in the well-lit store.

From the outside, one can easily notice the intriguing earrings, rings and necklaces that are placed neatly on a table located in the middle of the store.

One of the best parts of opening a physical store compared to just selling online, she added, is being one-on-one with her customers to help them with customising, or assists them in choosing the right piece of jewellery.

In addition to the glitz and sparkles of Heartbead, the shop also houses Allsorts, a mix of carefully selected home wares such as stationery, bags, cards and clothing. 

Image: The Bruneian
Image: The Bruneian

While the journey to opening a local jewellery business has been a milestone for Farah, it was not without its challenges and learning opportunities for the jewellery maker.

One of the rewards of the business, according to Farah is that the look her customer gave whenever they receive their finished items.

As for future plans, Farah said that she plans on expanding Heartbead’s footprint not just locally but also internationally although it is tough to expand overseas due to a lack of conducive payment gateway.

Image: The Bruneian

“For now, I just want to focus on expanding in Brunei and Malaysia,” she said.

Most of Heartbead items are displayed at the store and on Instagram are sold at reasonable prices ranging from $5 to $45 and can be purchased at https://shopheartbead.com

This article was first published on January 25, 2020 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 73

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

Advertisements