There’s a famous quotation that says. “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve” – this sums up Yusrina Abdullah’s attitude to life and to her jewellery business. An invincible combination of courage, initiative, resilience and persistence is what has helped Yusrina to gain success today.
When I meet Yusrina I see a young woman who is happy, confident and optimistic- and she has every right to feel this way, because her business was not born from either grand visions or free flowing cash. In fact, she used her own savings to create her first piece of jewellery, a beaded bracelet for herself. Her friends saw it, admired it and asked if she would also create pieces for them – and as they say, the rest is history. Enya Bijoux, her online jewellery business has been in existence for the past three years and not only has it gained an increasing number of loyal followers, but Yusrina has since won the Creative ASEAN Jewellery Design Competition in 2015 with her locally inspired piece entitled,”Homegrown”; and has also represented Brunei at the 56th Bangkok Gems and Jewellery Fair. So just how did this young woman turn her unique interest into a thriving business venture? Find out in excerpts taken from our conversation with her.
Forging her own path
When I was younger my Mum often thought that I was a bit mischievous as back then I didn’t really like to study that much. (she laughs!) So when I finished my O’ Level exams I decided that I did not want to do A’ Levels, instead I opted to do a Diploma in Business at Laksamana College. I really stumbled upon this career. I’d tried other art forms like painting but when I made my first bracelet I discovered that I was truly passionate about designing and handmaking jewellery….. I don’t have a degree in design. I am self-taught. Everything I know about designing and jewellery making I’ve learnt from watching countless tutorials and from reading. I stay informed in order to keep up with the latest trends and to discover new ideas and techniques that will help me to continue to improve my skills.
Refusing to give up
From the beginning, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do this! That I was capable of establishing a meaningful and independent career. And to be honest, I also knew that if this did not succeed I had no backup plan. During those early days I spent hours learning and experimenting with techniques and materials until each piece of jewellery came to life the way that I’d imagined it. People who know me well call me a “go-getter” and maybe that’s because once I make up my mind to do something – there are no excuses; I block out negativity; and I focus on achieving my goals. But more importantly, from the beginning I had the firm support of my Mum and the rest of my family and this helped to encourage and motivate me. In a world where there are so many people who hate their jobs, I feel lucky that I get paid to do a job that I really love.
Creating intriguing pieces
Each piece of my jewellery is hand-made from start to finish. In terms of my creative process, I don’t draw. I imagine a piece, make sketches, source the required material and then start. “Homegrown” was designed and made to reflect the beauty of the natural environment of our country and incorporated the use of twigs which were cast in sterling silver and black diamonds. I must admit that I am particularly fond of doing statement pieces, I like giving vintage jewellery a modern twist and I’m always trying to find new ways to improve my designs – this is time intensive, but definitely worth it in the end. Some customers want to preserve my pieces for sentimental reasons, so I offer a free cleaning and repairing service…. knowing that there are people who treasure my jewellery is one of the invaluable rewards of being in this type of profession.
Sharing words of advice
Even though there will be hardships and obstacles along the way, you should never give up – just keep on trying to find ways to overcome them. Sometimes people say that they have ideas but are reluctant to go into business because of what some refer to as the “copycat” culture in Brunei, I believe that this should never stop anyone from trying. You should start off small and if it doesn’t work out, at least you would have given it your best shot. People should not be afraid of competition as it is healthy and can bring out the best in businesses. I believe that no matter which field we are in, we should all support each other and work together to put Brunei on the creative map.