Miniature but mighty

TinyPinc is a local miniatures maker whose little works of art brought her big success!

Gift giving is something that’s a little difficult for most people and for some, the gift must be special. The process would usually go with firstly thinking what the gift receiver likes, be it food or favourite cartoon then looking at options from there. What if we were to tell you that for a quirky and ultra-local gift, there’s one such artist, right here in Malaysia!

TinyPinc is (wo)manned by Ling Hooi Yin, a young entrepreneur who has made her hobby into a business!

1Twenty80: Could you tell us briefly about TinyPinc and what you aim to present to your customers? 

Ling Hooi Yin: I’ve been running TinyPinc since 2010, back when I was in my first year of college. I was in Multimedia Design from The One Academy. It started off as a hobby, but then friends around me started ordering my tiny food miniatures, so that’s how TinyPinc kind of started as a side job for extra pocket money. 

I make miniature food into accessories like earrings, charms for bracelets and necklaces, magnet boxes for gifts and display, and lots more!

1Twenty80: What is your background and is TinyPinc your full-time job? 

Ling: I’m originally a Creative Designer and worked a couple years in digital agencies. Yes! TinyPinc has been my full-time job for about five years now.


1Twenty80: What inspired you to start your business?

Ling: It started as a hobby actually, and I had no intention to earn money or whatsoever.

My friend asked me to make something, and my business just started growing from there.

1Twenty80: When was your store launched and what obstacles did you face?

Ling: When I first started, I joined a lot of art markets to put my brand out there. Nine years ago,

I was selling my miniatures for RM10 each and I got a lot of feedback. People were saying they were expensive. I think they expected my miniatures to be RM3 or something and that was quite discouraging. As I have been educating my audience about miniature making through the years, people get to understand the story and effort behind my miniatures. People are more open and understanding now.

Quote: I guess in the handmade community my brand stands out as the brand that makes tiny malaysian food.

1Twenty80: How was it like during the early days?

Ling: It was definitely a one (wo)man show. I was still studying in college when I started TinyPinc. So I only had time to explore with clay during the weekends. I would attend art markets during weekends too. That plus assignments, pretty much drained my energy immensely. This continued even when I was in digital agencies. I didn’t know how I did it – it was crazy. I remember rushing agency work behind my stall and it was just hectic.

1Twenty80: What makes tinypinc’s products  different than others on the market?

Ling: I guess in the handmade community my brand stands out as the brand that makes tiny Malaysian Food. I was known as the ‘Ang Ku Kuih Girl’, then ‘Nasi Lemak Girl’, and now ‘Durian Girl’.

In general, my things are all individually made from scratch, by hand and I basically run TinyPinc alone.

1Twenty80: Where do you source the materials for making your miniatures?

Ling: I use Polymer Clay, and they can be bought from local craft stores. The brand I’m using originates from the United States of America.

1Twenty80: Do you only make miniatures? Do you provide other services such as workshops or commissions?

Ling: I sell my miniatures online and in some stores in Malaysia and Singapore. I provide workshops upon request, or when I’m free to organise one. I accept commissions as well!

1Twenty80: Who inspires you to be the successful person you are today?

Ling: To be honest, I don’t feel the success just yet. I have a really long way to go. Though talking about inspiration, I would say the miniature artist: Petitplat from France. I have been following her for nine years now!

1Twenty80: As an entrepreneur, we’re quite sure you’re very busy. How do you ensure that you have a work-life balance?

Ling: When I started, I was working on my study desk in my room. I woke up and went straight to my desk to work. I would work non-stop until midnight and I felt like burnout was going to happen. It was then I realised that it’s so important to separate work and life! I rented my first working studio (it was a 350 square feet, single room studio) near my house. I told myself to clock in and out like a regular worker (10 am to 6 pm) and I never spent a night in my studio. It’s just for work. It went great! I felt like I have a life after that! 

The problem with self-employment is that we spend almost all of our time building up our business, risking our personal life and health, just to make it grow, to see it reaching its full potential. It’s really tiring and stressful at first. As I got used to how things run, and how I had to cut down on my working time per day, it really helped balance my life. 

Quote: Always have a  back-up plan. things will not go your way, just  keep striving and you’ll see results! 

1Twenty80: How do you ensure that you stay healthy while  managing your business?

Ling: Like my mom would always say: DRINK MORE WATER. Regular exercise, and having more ‘me time’ for my mental health is important as well. To unwind, I sing in the shower and watch movies! 

1Twenty80: Words of wisdom to any of our readers who want to become an entrepreneur or chase their dreams?

Ling: Always have a back-up plan. Things will not go your way, just keep striving and  you’ll see results!