Should you’ve been energetic on social media over the previous 12 months, you will have come throughout movies of individuals tufting. It’s fairly large on TikTok with some creators, equivalent to SIMJI, garnering over 5 million followers on the platform.
Should you don’t know what tufting is, it’s a way in textile manufacturing whereby a thread is inserted on a main base. The trendy-day technique to do it’s utilizing a tufting gun, which quickly pushes thread into the bottom.
For individuals who haven’t heard of tufting and are nonetheless doubting its recognition, simply know that there are already greater than a handful of tufting studios in Malaysia.
To call just a few, there’s Tuftme (which alone has a number of areas), Tuft Second, Tufters Area, Tuft Area, and a lot extra.
However amongst all these, one which stood out to me was D’rug Tufting Studio.
With a easy username of @drug_kl on Instagram, I did a double-take after I first got here throughout this account. Clicking into its profile, I used to be additional shocked by the enterprise description—Drug Habit Therapy Middle.
Alas, I realised it was merely a play on the phrase “rug”. Nonetheless, I believed it was eye-catching and fairly humorous. The brothers who based it appeared to suppose so too.
“Throughout our naming course of, we had about 50 names listed out.” Wei Han shared. “Once we received to D’rug, all of us simply clicked [with it. We like how fun and quirky the name can be as it reads exactly like something we should not do. But we thought we would take the risk and do what other people wouldn’t dare to do.”
Jumping the (tufting) gun
Brothers Wei Han and Wei Ren are only 26 and 25 respectively, having just graduated from university around three years ago. Wei Han studied construction, while Wei Ren was in engineering.
At the end of last year, they discovered the art of tufting. At the time, they believed it was still rather niche in Malaysia, so they thought to themselves, “Why not? What’s the worst that can happen?”
So, the brothers took the plunge and quit their jobs in Johor Bahru and travelled north to KL.
“We weren’t in the craft industry prior to opening D’rug, but nothing stopped our eagerness to learn and create,” Wei Han shared.
They overcame their limited funds by being hands-on with the setup of their studio, going so far as to build the tables and handle the wirings themselves.
Compared to other industries such as F&B, though, the equipment for tufting is rather accessible. The main materials needed include the tufting gun, yarn, base fabric, and backing for the rug.
“However, to make tufting fun, colour availability is very important,” Wei Han brought up. “So making sure all colours and shades remain in stock and available has been tricky especially since most materials are sourced overseas and have quite a long delivery period.”
On top of preparing a physical space, they also had to work on being knowledgeable about the craft of tufting itself.
The brothers shared that tufting itself isn’t difficult, as they could guide anyone within five minutes, to actually understand and master it takes more time.
As mentioned, there are already so many other tufting studios and workshops in Malaysia, concentrated in the Klang Valley.
Although D’rug has a pretty catchy name, it might not be enough to sway people their way, especially when the name can sometimes be a disadvantage.
“We later realised that our Instagram handle would make approaching brands and KOLs more difficult, but I guess we’ll just have to live with that,” Wei Han mused.
So, another way D’rug claims to set itself apart from competitors is simple—pricing.
For their classic programme, which works with a 60cm by 60cm canvas, the retail price is RM299, with a special RM199 deal for subsequent party members. However, we’ve noticed that they’ve been running an RM100 promo for a while now, bringing the price per pax down quite significantly.
Without the promo though, compared to other brands, it’s still a pretty average deal. At Tuftme, the standard price is RM250. This means it’s RM500 for two people. With the non-promo D’rug deal (pun intended), it would be RM498.
Over at Tuft Second, the prices are RM268 per pax, with discounts for a bigger pax too.
“Instead of putting a premium price on tufting, we feel that tufting should be enjoyed by everyone instead, hence why we’ve placed our price at a competitive range,” Wei Han explained.
Trying D’rug for ourselves
I’ve never tried tufting before, but it looks like such a therapeutic experience. So, when Wei Han invited us to try out tufting at D’rug ourselves, I took him up on the offer.
Located in Jalan Telawi, Bangsar, D’rug is set in a very happening space. Street parking is admittedly a bit of a nightmare, but as a last resort, there’s a mall (Bangsar Village) just a few steps away.
In my opinion, it’s a great location as customers can visit nearby food options before and after their tufting session, as it can actually be quite physically strenuous, as I was about to learn.
Little tufted arrows guided me up the stairs to the third floor, where the studio was located. The space was dim when I entered because there were projectors in use.
Each workstation has a corresponding projector to let customers draw the basic shape of what they’re going to tuft.
I chose to make a sunny side up, while my managing editor, Sade, decided to recreate the Vulcan Post logo. Once I finished outlining, a staff member guided me to the yarn room, where a colourful wall of yarns greeted me.
“Yarn displays are a staple of tufting studios, often used as photo-op backgrounds while displaying all available colours to tufters,” Wei Han shared.
Each customer gets their own little trolley to keep their supplies and products in. For my design, I picked out the colours of an egg—white and yellow (and black for the face details).
While pushing my trolley back to my station, I noted there were nine tufters in the studio. The staff told me that they can fit eight comfortably, but can squeeze in 12 if need be. There are three sessions per day on weekends (9:30AM, 2PM, and 7PM), and usually two on weekdays.
I also noticed that there was a pretty high staff-to-customer ratio. There were around five or six staff members around, including Wei Han.
“We have around 12 staff members in our team, all very fun, caring and extremely [skilled] in tufting,” Wei Han stated. “Employees members all undergo our coaching programme and are very able to guiding and serving to tuft out small particulars that you simply’re not assured with.”
As we started to tuft, Sade talked about that she loved that the workers members didn’t maintain your hand via the method, however as an alternative allow us to expertise the method ourselves.
I tousled just a few instances, however tufting is an extremely forgiving exercise. Should you tousled one half, you’ll be able to simply tug the thread out.
One hour in, my proper arm was feeling sore from carrying the gun. Fortunately, every station comes with its personal chair and the studio additionally supplied water bottles and free snacks for everybody.
It took round two hours for me to complete tufting. After that, a staffer got here to chop out my design and introduced it to the again to organize the rug for its remaining glue-and-shave stage.
Earlier than that, although, they invited me to the yarn room for a fast image that they printed out for me.
In trade for a five-star overview on Google, D’rug lets clients glue and shave their very own rugs and take it dwelling on the identical day. This half took one other half-hour or so.
After all, you’re not obligated to go away a five-star overview and may choose to only wait every week to get your rug, however after our personal expertise at D’rug, we’d say that their five-star critiques are well-deserved.
As soon as we vacuumed our rugs, we have been free to take them dwelling. I’m now the proud proprietor of a little bit egg rug, and everybody in our workplace was shocked by the Vulcan Submit rug.
As drained as we have been after the expertise, we each agreed that we have been already pondering of coming again to make extra rugs in the future, as a result of the satisfaction we received from creating one thing with our personal palms was unmatched.
An enormous thanks to D’rug, Wei Han, and the staff members for the expertise!
Not only a section
D’rug opened its doorways in March this 12 months. Nevertheless, with a lot competitors immediately and with tufting being considerably of a pattern, there’s a priority about whether or not or not the craft is sustainable.
“Tendencies come and go, and we’ve been requested many instances about what we plan to do sooner or later when the pattern isn’t as sizzling as it’s immediately,” Wei Han expressed. “However we’ve many thrilling issues deliberate forward that hopefully will introduce tufting to much more individuals immediately.”
Three months into their studio, the staff has already seen returning clients (“addicted”, as they might name it) and supportive suggestions. So, they should be doing one thing proper.
“For now, we wish to make it possible for our clients take pleasure in their time with us,” Wei Han stated. “Completely happy clients are the best way to go for an attractive enterprise. Sooner or later, we are going to take part in additional actions and collaborations to introduce tufting in additional artistic varieties.”
- Be taught extra about D’rug Tufting Studio right here.
- Learn different articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups right here.