Twelve years ago, Paramjit Kaur, 33, started her career in advertising while pursuing her Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree. When she realised that her passion was in advertising, she dropped her law studies and remained in advertising over the next 10 years. Her last position was as a creative services manager in a leading advertising agency.
In 2016, Paramjit (or Pam for short) left advertising in search of something more meaningful. She wanted to use her experience in advertising to guide entrepreneurs and help microbusinesses grow.
“A few of the women entrepreneurs were producing their own products but didn’t know how to make labels for them. I came in and linked them with designers who would make their labels. It was good to see them getting excited when they saw their first printed labels,” she said.
One thing led to another and soon Pam found herself getting more involved in pop-ups and bazaars with some of these entrepreneurs. “Back then, bazaars were held in few locations and only on special occasions. Now, bazaars are a growing trend,” she said.
When Publika mall in Kuala Lumpur needed a team to organise some of their bazaars, Makers & Co was formed. It helped organise several bazaars last year. Then when Empire City mall in Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya, opened around the time of last year’s SEA Games, Makers & Co went in with a group of entrepreneurs to promote Made in Malaysia souvenirs to visitors who came to watch the ice skating and ice hockey games.
“We had an amazing 10 days in Empire City. It was exhilarating to witness thousands of people who came to support the games and visited our booths. Some were amazed that Malaysians could come up with such creative products while others thought they’re imported goods.”
This year, Makers & Co will be collaborating with Jaya One in Petaling Jaya to co-host some bazaars. It was recently appointed by Bangsar Shopping Centre in Kuala Lumpur to assist in sourcing and managing vendors for their annual Seek and Keep Artisan Market.
Pam now leads Makers & Co, a team of dedicated individuals who showcase, connect, match and introduce entrepreneurs to markets, fairs and bazaars for brand awareness and networking. Most of them are women entrepreneurs who generate some side income by participating in events and bazaars organised by the team.
Makers & Co’s first successful event, Wonder Women, was in conjunction with International Women’s Day in March last year. Over 40 women entrepreneurs showcased their own creative products, mainly arts and crafts.
All of Makers & Co’s bazaars are thematically driven or based on festive seasons. This year’s Superwoman held at Jaya One drew an overwhelming response from women behind the scenes in our community who came out to share their expertise and knowledge with the general public.
Other successful events include last year’s Art Of Life (in conjunction with International Yoga Day), Together Gather (Malaysia Day), and Tales Of Halloween – in Publika; and Christmas Market Under RM50 in Jaya One.
Said Pam, who is from Kuala Lumpur: “A big part of Makers & Co is dedicated to reaching out to independent groups who run on public funding, such as Gerai Orang Asal, Independent Pet Rescue And Adoption Network, Rumah Amal Cheshire Selangor and many others. We allocate free space for them to raise awareness of the work they do, and we always encourage them to bring items they produce to sell and 100% of the sales go back to their respective communities,” she said.
Pam added that Makers & Co has since developed into a strong team with all four members dedicating their time, energy and expertise to creating meaningful bazaars for women entrepreneurs.
“Not just foreigners are amazed by the (varied) skills of the women entrepreneurs but locals as well. For example, some locals could relate to Malaysian products such as printed T-shirts with slogans like Ane, Kopi Ais Ikat Tepi!” she said.
“Many of the women did little on social media to promote their products as they were not confident with writing the copy so they would just abandon the idea of posting anything on their social media accounts. This is where I got a friend of mine, a copywriter, to help them write their copy – and the public started noticing them. Some use the copy now as part of their business profile.
“Some entrepreneurs even managed to secure commissioned work from corporate brands for their company gifts and launches,” she said.