According to www.singlishdictionary.com, lobang is defined as “an opportunity, an opening” or it could also mean “a lead” depending on who you ask. Either way, it is an apt name for new homegrown costume jewellery store The Lobang Shop.
The Instagram-based business first caught our attention over the past weekend when its HipDict-inspired posters (below) started floating on our feed. Then its first merch dropped – a pair of lobster shaped earrings christened Ah Seng – which according to its witty caption “loves a little bit of flash because he can as he’s earned his keep and is old school that way”.
Since then, more statement-making costume jewellery designs have dropped on the page – from a alphabet brooches called Ya Ya Papaya to a cactus-shaped brooched named Prickly Heat – most of which are quickly snapped up as soon as they appear.
Officially launched on June 2, The Lobang Shop is founded by Angie Chen, a familiar name in the local fashion circle. The well-dressed 29-year-old works as the vintage fashion curator for luxury e-site The Fifth Collection and is known as a major accessories fiend who has an impressive personal collection of millinery and costume jewellery.
“I started posting about the business exactly a week ago to create interest and could officially launch after circuit-breaker ends on June 1,” says Chen. “I am a law-abiding citizen who follows the HBB (home-based business) rules.” (Yeap, this girl doesn’t, ehem, play play).
With its selection of charming designs and prices that don’t cross the three-figure mark, the store is indeed a well-kept secret (as of press time, it only has 367 followers) for serious bijoux hunters looking for unusual designs with a coronavirus-era budget. Now that’s a great lobang.
Firstly, what’s with the Singlish vibes with the branding and product names? It’s damn cute lor.
“During this period of time, I think everyone needs more cheer in their life hence I wanted to come up with something colloquial with a touch of humour to make people giggle when they purchased something. I love coming up with little stories for each of the pieces and I think they’re a great conversation starter with my customers; it’s also something that everyone can relate to.”
What made you decide to start the business?
“I would always help my friends shop for costume jewellery on their behalf, based on their styles and preferences. They actually encouraged me to start my own business because we realised that there is a gap in the local market for affordable unique pieces.”
Why focus on costume jewellery in particular?
“It’s a simple reason for now – they’re the easiest pieces to ship out during this period of time. I was initially planning to bring in hairbands and headpieces (which I will later on) but I decided to focus on jewellery first as they’re the easiest thing to spice up an outfit, especially during this Zoom call era.”
“I was tired of seeing sellers mark up their items by exorbitant amounts so I wanted to make my pieces extremely affordable with a range from around $10-$70.” – Angie Chen
How do you procure your pieces?
“I get them from various suppliers in China that I’ve bought from before. Each item on The Lobang Shop has either been purchased for myself or for a friend so I trust their quality and am confident of selling them to the public.”
What sort of style and designs can customers expect here?
“Hopefully there’s something for everyone. I’ve been shopping for my friends for a long time so I understand that there is a myriad of styles and preferences that people have. One thing’s for sure: they’ll always be quirky and outlandish in their own way.”
Is each item a one-off design? They sell out as soon as they appear on Instagram.
“Not at all, I bring in limited pieces to test out the market and see what people are interested in first. If I get enough requests, I’ll do a restock of the item.”
Why decide on selling them for less than $100 each?
“I was tired of seeing sellers mark up their items by exorbitant amounts so I wanted to make my pieces extremely affordable with a range from around $10-$70. I believe in sharing the love of great accessories with a wide audience. That’s the entire concept of The Lobang Shop – to be that friend that you go to when you need some help with looking for something.”