Emmalynn Yam
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Bingka: Emmalynn Yam

Handicrafts

Led by Emmalynn Yam and Adrihana Abdul Rashid, Bingka, a local independent brand of handcrafted gifts and souvenirs inspired by Malaysian culture and art, is now six years young. Read on as they share about their venture going into business together, and the pair’s ongoing friendship.

HOW DID BINGKA START & WHERE DID THE USE OF LOCAL ELEMENTS MANIFEST INTO THE DESIGNS?
Adri and I have been collaborating on small projects, she would employ me as the graphic designer. We’ve known each other since Standard One, so it’s easy for us to communicate our ideas to each other; that makes the working relationship quite easy. Sometime later, she asked me to design some batik clothes because she wanted to create a fresh line of batik designs. We thought we could create in our own take, in the style that we liked as back then, there weren’t many new designs of batik. In essence, we wanted something Malaysian-made and that appealed to our style.

Adrihana and Emmalynn, co-founders of Bingka KL
Adrihana Abdul Rashid and Emmalynn Yam, co-founders of Bingka

We also had this problem of gifting things to friends and family overseas. Recognising that this was a niche untapped market aside from the typical souvenirs and gifts, we started Bingka. To set us apart from other local independent handcrafted brands, we were inspired by our own unique culture and elements like local food and native animals, which we felt still had a lot more room to grow, explore and have fun with.

We started with tea towels, since they were smaller, we could do the whole process ourselves. For the first six months at least, we did everything ourselves — the designs, silkscreen printing and the sewing, and joined a bunch of bazaars and from there we slowly gained a bit of attraction and following.

AS AN ARTIST, HOW AND WHEN DO YOU KNOW A PIECE IS ‘DONE’?
I’m still recognising my limits. When I approach a design, I do everything I can to make it the best within the circumstances I am facing. Research is what lays the foundation of any design. It does help to have some deadlines. I’m very cautious about spending too much time on one project because my time is money, and the more time I spend on it, the more expensive it becomes. So I do my best within the given time frame.