Meet our February That Girl, Trixie Khong!
The haters and naysayers can moan and groan all they want about the lack of talent in our fair city. They’ve obviously never scoped out all our That Girls on Sassy! In fact, our featured That Girl this month, Trixie Khong is a bauble maker that we consider one of the brightest local rockstars in town. Trixie started her accessory line in 2009 and has developed a steady following amongst fans and editors (me included!) with her eclectic and eye-catching stones, metals and stones (stand a chance to win some personalised jewellery in our February giveaway). Of course, with creations this fun, we knew this chic lass’s studio would be anything but a snooze. And we were right. We checked out her inspiring space and sat down with Trixie for a Q&A, covering everything from her educational background, favourite SG haunts, and why her future is so exciting!
Hi Trixie! Tell us more about your background. What inspired you to design your own jewellery and start your own label, By Invite Only?
By Invite Only started out as a hobby and I started learning to make jewellery when I was 16. I have been making pieces and selling them on blogs to supplement my pocket money. I studied Chemical Engineering in Temasek Polytechnic and was set on working in a petroleum company at Jurong Island until I went for my internship and it completely changed my mind. This hobby then became my next best option to happiness.
I relished in the idea that I could make something from my own bare hands and then sell it to support myself. I think that highly motivated me to pursue this dream. The freedom of working for yourself is also extremely appealing. Because of this decision, I took up Communications and New Media in NUS to brush up on my public relations and marketing skills.
Tell us more about the name By Invite Only. How did the name come about?
In early 2009 when we were brainstorming for brand name ideas, Yohji Yamamoto came out with a diffusion line called Coming Soon. Because of that, I was really inspired to have a phrase as a brand name and thought it would be great if that phrase was also something people said often.In fact, we came out with hundreds of phrases and shortlisted By Invite Only as The One.
The label is largely inspired by the imagery of 18th century circuses and the Victorian era in their branding. Not necessarily in literal forms but we label adapted textures and materials that reflect the imagery to create a rustic and quaint feel across our collaterals. Just like the moving circus of that time, we aim to bring to our audience an array of ‘acts’ and ‘shows’ in the form of style-lines and collections to induce awe and wonder. Never taking ourselves too seriously on trends and seasons, we search high and low for beautiful trinkets, minerals and crystals from all over the world to create classic wearable pieces.
The name ‘By Invite Only’ thus symbolises a circus not cut out for the masses but for those special few who values passion, hard work and exclusivity in their jewellery.
Lots of people dream of starting a business. How did you find the strength to switch gears and embark on a career that’s unrelated to what you learnt in school?
I always think that internships are very useful. People underestimate how important it is just because it’s a requirement in school or if it is not required, students usually do not take the initiative to look for internships themselves. I changed my mind about my career because I went for internships and saw firsthand how the job wasn’t suitable for me. Being stuck in a job that’s not fulfilling to yourself is my biggest fear in life. I think that fear propelled me to switch and think about what I could do otherwise to improve on my situation.
What has been the most rewarding thing about starting your own label?
Seeing the smiles and hearing the positive feedback from our customers who love our designs is something I feed off of on a daily basis.
Which piece of jewellery in your repertoire do you love the most?
I personally love our Silver Mini Wishbone Necklace. It’s something that I always go back to when I need that extra something to complete my outfit.
Okay, down to business. It’s a customer’s first experience with By Invite Only. What should she purchase?
Our ear studs! I’m very proud of them! We’ve not had earrings or studs for a very long time because I can’t seem to find a reliable manufacturer to work with who would be able to produce studs specifically in stainless steel. We’ve now finally found the perfect company that we can work very closely with to produce these sparkly metallic studs for us. I believe it’s important to do a good ear stud that’s allergy-free and will suit most of our customers’ skin. In this case, design comes second.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Everyday is different and that’s what I love about my job. I usually take care of the creative and production aspects including photography and also the buying of materials.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
My biggest challenge is always cashflow. But I think this is not a unique issue with small companies. Properly managing our funds so we don’t overspend is a skill that I’m still trying to perfect.
What inspires you?
Nature! I know people often say that but I find colour-combinations for my jewellery from observing my surroundings when I travel or through the media I consume. I was once a ferry in Italy and I was very drawn to the white wash against the deep blue sea. I remember looking into the water for a good 15 minutes. That white and blue imagery sticks in my head until now. Through that experience, it inspired me to create the Rivera series and I believe many more in the future.
What are you looking forward to in the next few years?
Running a company that’s indispensable. Being the boss, I need to make sure that my company runs even when I’m not around, or if something happens to me. Auto-piloting your operations is not easy but I look forward to the day when we are ALMOST there.
What are some of your favourite hangout spots in Singapore?
Other than the office, I love Group Therapy for a great Sunday breakfast. Everything on their menu is delicious and I’ve been there almost every other weekend for the past year. I also enjoy just spending time at home to catch up with on favourite American dramas to unwind.
We heard you’re getting married soon, CONGRATULATIONS! How are your preparations coming along and how do you feel about entering a fresh new chapter in your life?
I think it only hits you on that very day. Nothing feels different so far but I’m excited nonetheless. I guess when the time is right, you’ll freak out less and want it to just happen already.
Do you have any advice for aspiring #girlbosses?
Don’t be lazy. I face this problem everyday. I have 101 ideas but mostly too lazy to realise them. Repeat after me girls, “don’t be lazy!”.
Thanks so much for your insight, Trixie! You’re a real inspiration to us all us Sassy Girls! Special thanks to the vivacious Shamsydar Ani Photography for the awesome images of Trixie!