In an age when plenty of shops are popping up with similar styles of clothing, some are customising apparel to make their outfits stand out.
Plenty of clothing stores have popped up online, selling second-hand clothes and reselling clothes from other websites.
Made-to-order customisation businesses stand out among them, offering custom painted designs on items like jackets and sneakers to youths looking to add a personal touch to their wardrobe. Custom pieces are one-of-a-kind, which makes such items special to customers.
Youth.SG spoke to two 19-year-old business owners, Ashley Ler, who runs custom-painted shoes business Devil Art.Co, and Michelle Sully, who runs Miso Miso Crafts, to get an insight into their customisation businesses.
As a former art student in secondary school and junior college, Ashley wanted to continue practising her art skills after she graduated. She was also waiting to start university.
“It all started from TikTok when I saw some Americans posting custom-designed Air Force Ones. I thought it was interesting and painting has always been a hobby of mine.
“I’ve been waiting to start university and I wanted to earn some extra income during this holiday period, so I decided to try to make a living out of painting shoes and started Devil Art.Co in February this year.”
Michelle had a similar reason for starting Miso Miso Crafts. While waiting to leave for further education overseas, the former international baccalaureate student decided to open a hand-painted garments business.
“I was inspired by the Michael B. Jordan X Coach collaboration and I decided to make my own version using textile paint.
“I enjoy painting and it gave me satisfaction to know that my hobby and passion also pleased other people. Hence, I started Miso Miso to customise designs for others as well.”
Customised orders take more time to complete as artists have to buy products and hand-paint every order. The painting products are sourced by the artists and oftentimes the shoes or clothes are self-sourced as well.
However, new artists often underprice their items when they are starting out and trying to make a name for themselves.
Ashley recounted: “When I first started, I charged around $30 for a design and shoes were sold for around $150.
“I increased the prices later on because I was more confident of my skills and there was an increase in demand. Now, the prices for my shoes range from $200 to $240.”
She also broke down the price point behind her shoes, taking into account the amount of time spent on painting, the cost of the paint colours and even sourcing for the Air Force Ones.
“The prices depend on the complexity of the design and how much colour there is. Some colours are limited because they’re very expensive, as compared to primary colours,” revealed the business undergraduate.
Michelle also shared the same process behind pricing her items: “I price my jackets at roughly $100 each. The prices depend on the colours, complexity and size of the design. Prices start at $80 for a 20cm black and white piece.
“Sourcing for denim jackets can be pretty hard as they are expensive so I’ve opened an option for customers to send over their own apparel or order a new one to my address.”
As demand for Ashley’s art grew, she soon had to create a website to handle administrative matters and put a cap to the number of orders. She also had to temporarily close her shop as she headed back to school for the university semester.
Even though she is unsure of when she can open Devil Art.Co again for orders, she admits that she would like to open a physical store in the future.
“I can’t do orders right now because of university, but I hope to collaborate with other custom artists in the future. I want to be an entrepreneur eventually but it doesn’t have to be a custom-painted shoe business.
“My biggest goal is to have a physical retail store of my own brand. I will be expanding the items available because there will be a lot of competition if I stick to custom-painted shoes,” explained the Singapore Management University student.
In contrast, Michelle plans to close down her store by the end of this year before she leaves for further studies overseas. However, she is happy at the positive impact it has made.
She said: “I see painting as a hobby and a separate interest from what I have already planned to study in the future. I enjoyed it for a while and I was able to do good deeds through Miso Miso Crafts by donating a portion of my profits to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.”
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