Everyone wants to turn a hobby into a full-time business. Well, tailor Jeremy Tok has achieved it – but he is saying that the experience he went through was not as easy as imagined.
“I’ve never worked in retail or a tailoring shop before this. So I had no clue on running such a business. To think about it now, I must have been quite crazy to attempt such a thing,” says Tok, 36.
Tok is a graduate with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Germany. After working in Malaysia as a project manager for manufacturing companies, he then left his job to become a tailor.
“It’s worth it because of the tremendous personal change. I don’t think you should live life for comfort. And the tailoring trade has forced me to change, to do things I never thought I would do.”
Born and raised in Kuantan, Pahang, Tok actually taught himself how to construct his own jacket first. That led to him securing his apprenticeship with a coat maker in Kuala Lumpur.
“After work and on weekends, I’d sew at home, drafting and cutting. Eventually I had a jacket without sleeves. I was quite proud of it. I showed it around to a couple of tailors and it caught their attention,” he relates.
A passion for fashion
According to him, he has always been intrigued with tailoring. He was very active in online forums back then, where people would take pictures of the suits they had made and post them up.
“I gave them my thoughts, and they eventually invited me to their fittings. I guess they wanted a second opinion. It made sense, as suits are generally seen as large purchases.”
Tok founded his tailoring business only about five years ago. As he still had a nine-to-five day job then, he fitted his customers in hotel rooms that he booked over the weekends.
“At one point, I was contacted by someone from Brunei, a menswear shop that sells shoes and shirts. For my first trip there, I sold four suits. Yet I still wasn’t sure whether I could do it,” he states.
Today, Tok commutes daily from his home in Bukit Tinggi, Pahang, to his design studio in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
He sees customers only by appointment, which can be made via his website.
“I see the business of tailoring as sort of a collaboration between customers and the tailor. A bespoke suit is certainly a special piece of clothing that you can own,” he concludes.