Reaping success with papercraft

Syazwani Hj Rosli

Crafting can be fun; it helps creativity to flourish. As for Nurul Waznah binti Ahmad Bastamam, she has a fondness for papercraft.

This began when she was still in high school, and Nurul Waznah, also known as Waz, is proud that her passion has bloomed into a business she named ‘Craft by Waz’, which hosts crafting classes.

“I am in my early thirties and have been married to a firefighter since 2003. We are blessed with two daughters and two sons, so we have a very busy household. I work on my crafting business at flexible hours, which is perfect because it allows me the flexibility to be a mom and still contribute to my family’s finances,” she said.

Sharing her journey in becoming a successful businesswoman, Waz said she has been doing online business since December 2005. In 2014, she opened a boutique selling Muslimah clothing line named Myiesha Faliha. While the company went down, her journey did not stop. She always had the passion in becoming a successful entrepreneur, and so she started selling food through Instagram.

“But that was just for a while because I can’t bear cooking and preparing the food by myself when my kids and husband are not around,” she said.

A student works on her craft. PHOTOS: NURUL WAZNAH
One of Waznahs classes in session

Before Craft by Waz came to life, she had a crafting business called ‘Lia Alisha Chateau’ named after her daughters. The business was established on March 1, 2017. She sold digital artwork she designed, stickers, bookmarks and planner accessories which she manually cut.

“It was time consuming and my fingers hurt badly. There were times where I cut my fingers, too! My husband even helped me with my work when my task was close to the deadline. There were times we did not sleep the whole night to finish cutting a project. Ever since that experience, I did some research for a cutting machine, and that was when I found the Cameo Silhouette,” she said.

When her package was delivered, she did not utilise it straight away. In fact, the Cameo Silhouette cutting machine was sitting under her crafting table for more than two months because she had no idea how it worked. She tried learning from YouTube but did not have the courage to try.

In August 2018, she was involved in a freak car accident that led to depression and anxiety.

“I was carless after the accident. I was not able to do deliveries, send my stocks to Bandar (she lives in Kuala Belait) or even send and fetch my kids from school,” she said.

“I was trying to find a hobby where I could keep myself busy so I pushed myself to create something with the cutting machine. I finally learnt how to make stickers and after hundreds of paper stickers wasted, I can cut the stickers with the cutting machine without error. It was not easy at first.

I got frustrated and my depression became worse when the machine could not read the registration marks. I cried whenever I failed doing my projects using the Cameo,” she shared.

In October 2018 she became a Cameo Silhouette reseller and sold more than 200 machines.

“Customers would ask me how the machine works. Some managed to complete their projects without problems while some had no idea. As I was struggling too, I searched for a Cameo trainer so I could learn the basics.”

After eight months of searching, she found a Cameo trainer from Malaysia and went for a one-day training.

“Ever since I learnt the basics and mastered the skills after thousands of errors, I had the urge to teach Cameo owners. That was how my crafting class, Craft by Waz, started,” she said.

She offers Intensive Basic Training for Cameo users or for those planning to get the cutting machine.

She covers how the machine works and how to make projects using the software, including hands-on projects on sketching and cutting, working with adhesives and heat transfer vinyl.

She offers printing and cutting training for those interested in making stickers and business cards using cardstock or sticker paper and shares her secrets to make printing colour quality outstanding. She conducts hands-on training on how to layer vinyl as well as make cake toppers, custom t-shirts, custom tote bags and planner stickers.

“Ever since I started my crafting classes, I received both beginner and experienced Cameo users. But in my classes, I share my knowledge with my students because if there is a secret it is better not to teach, I want berkat in my rezeki,” she added.

“I get excited while teaching what I’m passionate about. My goal is not only to communicate information in an understandable way but to inspire students to explore how they can turn this cutting machine into their side income.”

“I think many teachers crave seeing students having the ‘aha!’ moment – it’s more like a ‘Woah, wait, what!? Wow. Tell me more!’ and that is what I love to hear,” she laughed.

On the challenges in her business, she said, “I don’t see any challenges because everyone is different. Every aspect depends on how my students see the way I share my knowledge with them”.

What she loves most about the business are the people she meets.

“I never thought that I would have friends from crafting. Meeting new people with the same hobby, from being a student and becoming friends, it’s nice to have this circle where we share our experience working with the Cameo machine and sharing ideas on what we can make out of it,” she said. Waz noted that social media helped promote her business, while word of mouth helped her gain attention from potential customers.

Her advice to craft makers who are looking to turn their practice into a small business is to not be afraid to write about themselves in their store introduction and to give a good description of their products.

She recommended investing in a good camera because she believes that “good cameras take good pictures” and to stay with it even if the business is small.

“Perseverance and passion,” she added. “It’s not easy to start or maintain your own business, but if you’re passionate about what you do, it certainly makes it easier to sell your ideas and products. You have to keep at it and spread the word as much as you can. Social media certainly helps with this.

“Don’t give up because your hard work and determination will pay off. And have fun. Do your thing and stick to what makes you happy. People will notice.”