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Tied in fashion, they dye to make a statement

Gym buddies with common interest and background in fashion worked out a fashionable idea to become a business and will probably revive a yesteryear fad

What are the chances of two fashion graduates meeting in a gym, becoming great friends and starting a fashion brand together? Pretty slim.

Photo by: Danial Mahathir

But for Shermaine Tay and Ooi You Jing, it must have been in the stars for that was exactly how Good Juju came about.

Photo by: Danial Mahathir

Shermaine works as a private personal trainer in a boutique gym in Kuala Lumpur. And You Jing was training at the same gym. They then attended a fitness retreat in 2019 and found that they shared very similar background and passion.

Photo by: Danial Mahathir

Shermaine graduated in fashion from the London College of Fashion while You Jing majored in fashion merchandising and marketing from Raffles Kuala Lumpur. Both had to give up their passion for the reality of earning a living.

“When I wanted to study fashion, my dad told me that if you like to eat it doesn’t mean you like to cook. I soon realised that he was right. The reality is, fashion industry doesn’t pay especially in Malaysia,” You Jing related.

“I ended up being a re-insurance broker but my passion for fashion did not subside.”

His sentiments were echoed by Shermaine: “It is simply not sustainable. I did a couple of unpaid internships in London but the opportunities were simply not there.

“When I came back, I worked for an online fashion company but it was desk job. I didn’t enjoy it. Life just took a different turn and I became a personal trainer.”

Shermaine and You Jing bonded. With each other as support, they decided to dip their toes in fashion again starting with funky tie-dye socks.

Photo by: Sarah Hobbs

Why tie-dye and why socks?

“Tie-dye is full of surprises – like life. Every pair of tie-dye socks is different. It is truly personalised and customised much like a piece of art,” explained Shermaine. “Socks have no expiration date or sizing. We just have to consider the height and comfort level.”

Photo by: Danial Mahathir

The duo started producing their trial batch from Shermaine’s studio apartment – at the kitchen sink next to the gas stove!

“We produced a pilot batch and tested it. It was very much trial and error. We gathered feedback and improve on the outcomes. We then bulk ordered our first batch of socks from China,” said You Jing.

And, very much like their tie-dye socks, life dealt them a huge surprise – Movement Control Order hit no thanks to COVID-19.

You Jing recalled: “Our order was delayed. Rather than moan about it, we used the extra time to research more on how to do proper tie-dye to refine our process.”

Photo by: Sarah Hobbs

In July 2020, Good Juju tie-dye socks were officially launched.

Three hundred pairs sold out in a jiffy thanks to word of mouth by families and friends. Marketing was conducted via Instagram although a website is in progress.

Photo by: Sarah Hobbs

Today, Good Juju is into its third batch of socks. Orders received ranged from specific colours to surprise me!

Since both of them hold full-time jobs, how do they manage?

“I will tie-dye in-between my coaching and at the end of the day. You Jing will come after work to help out. You can say that my life now is just coach and dye!” exclaimed Shermaine.

The young entrepreneurs officially registered Good Juju Enterprise recently. What’s in the name Good Juju? “Juju is actually Shermaine’s nickname. Good Juju is like good and positive vibes,” offered You Jing. “Since we registered the name, it has hit me that we are now a business!” declared Shermaine.

What has been their learnings thus far? “Find the right person to work with,” said Shermaine. “I learnt that it is important to work with people who are like-minded.”

You Jing added: “For me, our friendship always come first. We made a promise to each other that we will not let this business ruin our friendship.”

Future plans for Good Juju?

“We are looking at tank tops, crop tops and oversized shirts – leisure wear that we can use at the gym since we spend so much time there,” revealed Shermaine.

You Jing chipped in, “More than line extension, we want to grow Good Juju to be a brand – the Good Juju community.

“We are open to opportunities like putting our products in tattoo parlours, cafes, and other businesses that have the space. We want to collaborate with local artists to grow the community.”

Already Good Juju socks are attracting buyers from Thailand, Singapore and the United States.

“We made a healthy investment in the business but not to the extent where we need to eat roti canai everyday – my coach won’t allow that. Hopefully, Good JuJu will be our exit plan from our current need-to-earn-a-living jobs,” enthused You Jing.

Indeed, may Good Juju bring them positive vibes!

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