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karin khoo says...

Since the birth of PinksuitcaseTrinkets in December 2011, Karin Khoo has been impressing fellow designers and avid fans alike with her creative flair and unique style. The 24-year-old founder puts her innovative skills to good use, churning out a vast array of finely crafted accessories. Her recent collections, ranging from necklaces to watches and pouches, are made from wood, surgical steel and acrylic materials that are deceptively simple, yet exquisitely simple – fit to complement any style. We check in with Karin as she walks us through her artistic journey thus far.

Audrey Lee: Care to give our readers a little more about your inaugural moments? What fuelled your decision to venture down the path of producing creative wares?

Karin Khoo: I’ve always loved the arts. Since secondary school I was in the art stream, took up design during my diploma days, got involved in designing mobile application on my first job and subsequently I free-lanced a lot of designing jobs throughout my full time job. It’s funny how I naturally stumble onto designing no matter what route I took. Well, I’m turning 24, had a bit of awakening and took this as a sign to get into doing something wholeheartedly that has been the biggest constant in my life.

Well, I’m a deviantart nethead! Before we even had Facebook or Friendster (during the IRC days) ß boy I’m old, there was deviantart. I always loved kawaii stuff but never really admitted it until I was probably 17? You see, during the whole secondary school debacle, we were hit with constant weird emotions, friends teasing, puberty… imagine a kawaii phase. So I suppose deviant kept me saint for that period of time. The amount of artists in there, it’s crazy! They have so much talent I just hope one day I’d be like them and finally (2011)… I took my first step!

AL: For the sake of our readers who are not currently aware of your designs, tell us a little bit about the birth and subsequent life of PSC Trinkets.

KK: PSC Trinkets is a line of original designs. They are all sketched and later computer illustrated. Funny how I started production in 2011 and aimed to launch my items  by end of January 2012 but only got all up by early April 2012. I’m new to this and there were a couple of occasion where I’m at a point that I was all ready to launch PSC Trinkets, only to find that I’m missing something. It’s okay though, I am so glad that I went through this whole process and strangely I liked every bit of it. From waiting for my jewelry findings to coordinating with my cutter how big my pendants should be to making sure my printer got my packaging artwork right, it has been a heck of a journey.

Like every other fellow indie designer, I hand assemble my chains, my packaging and even self-shoot my photos. I first had the idea to cut my designs in surgical steel. The wood working section came in a little later but boy am I glad they’re in my collection. They are extremely light and match well with almost anything. I would without a doubt increase the variety of designs from time to time. I already had different request coming in even when it has only been published for 2 weeks. *YAY*

AL: Is there a common theme or focus in your designs and are they influenced by your personal style?

KK: They are certainly in some ways influenced by my personal style. I have a huge penchant for cute stuff but I didn’t want my designs to be 12 years old cute (not that I wouldn’t wear cute 12 year old jewelry =X). I wanted something cute but still wearable for casual wears. Then again that is how I’d like my daily casual jewerly to look like.

Theme probably not, more like a material I’d like to stick to for a while. It’s my first time working with wood and it’s great! I like how when they’re painted on, that they look absolutely stunning, the perfect blend.

AL: What sets your collection apart from the rest? What can your consumers expect from you?

KK: Of course hands down my designs (giggles). I’d say my materials used. It’s not easy to find indie designs with surgical steel materials. I guess most to most they’d be in stainless steel or silver.

I’m also pretty proud of my Mall Girls collection. They are all originally designed cut up wooden charms where I’d hand paint them, putting on different shades and styles. These were the last set of designs I came up with. I wanted to get more hands on with my stuff, wanted to make it more personal, giving a little friendly touch there.

I am hoping to level up on my designing skills and bringing in preferably different types of merchandize like hand sewn purse with customized fabric (maybe some Blubber fabric!). I can foresee a big range of stuff coming up but my ultimate goal would still be to remain as indie possible even if I’ll ever have the chance to go big.

AL: How about a little insight of your workspace and a day-to-day regime?

KK: Oh wow, my workspace is crazy. You see, I’m currently living in a rented apartment, space is very limited, and so I have a lot of cute boxes stacked up against each other on my working table. I have my painting supplies, my fabrics, my jewelery finders etc… all on the same table I use the computer and craft on. But it’s undeniably good enough! I manage to make it as comfortable possible and I’m loving it!

Day to day regime huh… Here’s the breakdown. I’ll get up by 8am, prepare for work, try to get back home by 7pm, nap a little bit and start painting, or updating my facebook page or sewing some kawaii purses or something… My resolution this year’s to make sure I get something productive done every day (not talking about my full time job here) and yeah, I try to sleep by 4am.

Weekends are the best! I’ll make sure my house is sparkling clean by Friday 12mn, so I can dedicate myself fully to getting stuff done for PSC Trinkets. I usually don’t sleep until 6am on Friday nights, because having a full time job makes weekends so precious that really I don’t want to waste it. I’ll be up at 12noon on Saturday and everything exciting happens! I know this probably isn’t the best schedule and I’m banking on borrowed energy but hey, we only get this energy once huh! =X

AL: What is your take on Singaporean designers compared to international designers? Do you think there is a unique trait that is specifically homegrown?

KK: Hmm, this is a tough one. There definitely are a couple of limitations between Singaporean and international designers. The resources we can play with here are limited (of course it’s not an excuse). But I guess if we’re talking about creativity, we do have a bit of a knack and can be on par with our fellow designers across the globe. We are still after all compared to people who design throughout their family tree, young and can definitely improve at how we perceive and portray things.

I guess when it comes to designs, the word home-grown doesn’t mix in well (my thoughts really) Art is so subjective. If you put a locally designed necklace beside an international one, I’d most definitely not be able to tell which is from where.

AL: And your muses?

KK: Muse… hmmm unquestionably Kim Rountree of Oborocharms. Followed her since deviant days, try to control myself from hitting the favourite button on every of her entry *HAHA. She is amazing, determined, harworking… she does these cute little polymer clay charms and paints every single one of them! I played with polymer clay a while back and used colored clay instead of paints. Imagine sculpting, baking, painting, varnishing a super tiny charm. Sure takes a lot of talent. She is doing super well right now, over 11k fans on facebook. She updates her page every week with what she’s working on and attending which event, uploading video tutorials and painting ten gazillion charms a day. I am till today very inspired by her.

AL: What are your long-term and short-term goals?

KK: Short term, to be able to do this full time in probably 2 years? I guess I’m still at a point where I’m trying to absorb as much stuff I can from my full time job right now. It’s a great job and if given the chance I wouldn’t want to be leaving that soon. Long term would be to eventually be having PSC Trinkets stabled with a huge but humble range of great stuff and on the other hand to be able to be a travelling artisan.

Came up with this idea with my husband how we would one day want to travel to different countries, have pit stops at different places to craft and sell our stuff on the spot!

AL: Finally, would you leave us with a little known fact about you?

KK: My name is Karin, I’m from the very beautiful fine city of Singapore. I’m a very homely person, I’d rather stay home all day long than to shop or hang out with friends (sorry friends). Of course I do occasionally spend time with them. =) My favourite store is Takaishimaya’s Kinokuniya Japanese craft section. My most prized possession (, the Karin, made by my husband. I love buying cute food not to eat them, look at it, smile and only throw them away when they turn horribly mouldy or expired. I can also buy all the cute things in the world, not use them, keep it aside in the store room and taking it out once in a while to just look at it.

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