Chloe Chew

Chloe Chew

I met Chloe two years ago when she wanted to start Lovelystrokes. Back then, she was asking me for advice on how to start her business but months later, Lovelystrokes was exploding on Instagram. Her polymer clay earrings were constantly sold out the moment they launched and getting a pair became a competitive sport (we kid, but we not).

When we started Minor Miracles, it seemed like a natural fit to collaborate with Chloe, since we both have a shared love for colour. And thus, our collaboration was born!

We took some time to catch up with Chloe pre-Circuit Breaker, to learn how her business has grown in the past 2 years.

Chloe wears Love Like This Pintucked Top in Horizon, Size S (launching soon) and Swagger Jagger Skirt in Yellow Stripes, Size S

 

What were you doing before Lovelystrokes started?

I majored in Architecture and went on to work in a large architecture firm for 2 years after graduating. We were working on big projects like MRT stations. I decided to try something new after going home every day at 5AM for a period of time. I joined a start-up that specialised in finance to do User Experience design for them. At the start-up, I had to help them with design aspects as well, so I had to pick up many things along the way, which was kind of fun!

What was it like designing MRT stations?

An eye-opener, in the sense that it’s not every day you get to work on a project like this. MRT stations have very specific regulations and compliances, like which room needs to be next to which, etc. It’s very functional and most of the time you’re problem-solving rather than designing. Unlike residential projects, where you get more budget to work with.

 

Chloe wears Birds Don't Sing Dress in Horizon, Size S (launching soon)

How did you get started with polymer clay then?

 It started out as a hobby – there wasn’t much going on at work while I was working at the start-up. I had played with polymer clay when I was younger, so, in search of something to fill all the spare time I had, I returned to it and started making earrings for myself. I made 5 pairs and posted them on my personal IG account, just to show them off! Who would have thought that I would actually sell 4 of those 5 pairs! I started staying up all night after work to make earrings and didn’t feel tired at all. I guess that’s what they call an adrenaline rush? I signed up for my first ever pop-up store in May 2018 and told myself I’d quit my job and make it my full-time job if it went well. And as they say, the rest is history!

 Was your mom always supportive of this?

 My mom has always been a big support, she never questioned me about it. Even during school days, she would always tell me - Whatever you do, do your best!

Chloe wears Sugar Puffy Sleeve Short Dress in Brown Doodle, Size S (launching soon)

Chloe wears Birds Don't Sing Dress in Horizon, Size S (launching soon)

 

So, Lovelystrokes was born in this room?

 Actually, the other room across the hallway. This was my brothers’ room and it had dark coloured walls previously. We revamped the space when both of them moved out and now it has ample amount of natural daylight that works especially well for product shoots!

Why the name Lovelystrokes? 

The account was created to document my progress with Calligraphy when I was playing around with brushes. I didn’t want to create a new account and I didn’t know what to name my new clay journey, so I didn’t change the name at all. For me, when I knead the clay, it’s through the action of strokes.

Where do you find inspiration for each collection? 

I’m inspired by colours and forms, sometimes the most random thing. I had a design in 2019, which was inspired by my trip to Japan where I saw a striking coloured street lamp against a muted colour building. It was random and nothing fancy, but it caught my attention and I knew I had to capture the composition and colour somehow. I went home and translated it to a earring design. It’s still one of my favourite designs till this day, because every time I see that design, it brings me back to the day I was strolling down the street in Tokyo. I guess you can say I love meaningful designs.

Chloe wears Heartburn Wrap Top in Horizon, Size S (launching soon) and Regular People Zipped Skirt in Yellow Stripes, Size S 

Do you spend a lot of time to make these earrings?

 A batch usually takes about 1 to 2 weeks to make, depending on the complexity of the design. There are a lot of steps that go into making it – designing, making, curing, sanding, polishing and assembling. The list goes on. When I’m making, I don’t like to break the momentum, I’d want to finish it up within the day. However, there are days when I’m just not feeling it and may end up only making 1 pair and calling it a day. I think most makers can relate to what I’m saying. A lot of love and time goes into what we make, which is also why everything is limited. My mood affects my productivity that day haha!

Did your architectural background come in handy?

 Definitely! My background allowed me to be proficient in many Design software, which is necessary when it’s a one-woman show. It’s also useful when I want to digitally prototype an idea for visualization.

Is it lonely being a solo entrepreneur?

 I felt lonely when I first started, since I was used to having colleagues to have lunch with. But I’ve come to appreciate the solitude and most importantly, the flexible hours.

 How is the freelancer/entrepreneur community?

We’re all on the same boat, so everyone understands each other. Many times, I’ll find that others face the same issues and struggles as me. We’re not that alone after all.

Chloe wears Heartburn Wrap Top in Horizon, Size S (launching soon) and Regular People Zipped Skirt in Yellow Stripes, Size S 

Chloe wears Birds Don't Sing Dress in Horizon, Size S (launching soon)

Chloe wears Cherry Cola Bubble Hem Dress in Yellow Stripes, Size S

 

What’s one of the hardest things you’ve found as a challenge running your own business so far?

It’s like going through University all over again, majoring in Business maybe. I’ve A LOT to figure out because I wasn’t trained in business or marketing. It’s not just making and selling, a lot of things take place in between the process, but I’m lucky enough to have Mr Google and many people around me who guide me in the right direction.

What are some of your best memories thus far?

The first pop-up that I did at Art Box is the most memorable one, because that’s the one that kickstarted everything. It was my first time meeting customers in real life, and the whole process was fun because I also shared the booth with a friend. Although the weather wasn’t pleasant because it was so hot on the first day, and then it rained heavily overnight. What made things worse was that apparently there was some fault with the roofing, and the next morning we came back to a wet stall with everything inside damped. But I did learn a lot of things from this experience, to always bring a fan to pop-up stores and waterproof your things! I guess it’s all part of the journey.