Enterprise
A passion for lapel pins
Najihah S 
Pantun Pins are generally made from iron and brass which, lasts very long
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FOR the things that we wear, it is usually more than just functionality. There is often a hint of emotional connection to the clothing or accessories that we put on.

With that in mind, a group of four friends – Shafiq Aznir (Shaq), Syafiq Mohd Noh, Shawn Tan and Chern Loo – were motivated to introduce a product that is edgy and, at the same time, represents Malaysian culture.

They eventually settled on lapel pins, which are typically attached to a suit or tie. Lapel pins can sometimes be seen as serious and boring, but the group of friends wanted to offer pins that resonate with the youngsters, making it a fun item to wear.

They launched Pantun Pins in April last year after a year of identifying the trend among local consumers.

 

Shaq aims to expand the brand regionally

According to Shaq, co-founder and marketing director, the venture was initially just a “passion project”.

 

“There was a pin renaissance in the US and the price point was very high. Therefore, we decided to come up with our own pins as we could create designs that would resonate with the local crowd.”

“The name Pantun came about because we want every pin to tell a story. There’s a sense of nostalgia that comes with it,” he adds.

 

Outsourced production

He said the reason it took almost a year to get things off the ground was because it was difficult to find manufacturers that could produce high quality pins. “We require intricate specifications due to our designs, so we outsourced it to a company outside Malaysia,” says Shaq.

Syafiq shares that the first batch of pins were made to be sold to friends and family

Co-founder Syafiq explains the initial production of the pins were minimal so that it wouldn’t incur additional cost to the company.

“We were not so confident with the product, so we only planned to sell it to our family and friends. But luck was on our side, and Pantun grew on people and demand increased. They didn’t know where to find us, so we developed a way to sell more – selling it online and at a few stores.”

Its first collection had seven designs and they only made 50 pieces for each design. Within six months, the production grew to 100 pieces per design as there was high demand. The company has recorded a rise in sales in the previous months as they managed to sell off several collections within weeks.

“We have the advantage of being the first, and we’ve got a good social media following. Most of our sales come from social media. We have also started buying advertisements online.”

 

Differentiation in details

The pins are designed in-house and sent to the manufacturer to develop the prototype. The pins take about three to four weeks to manufacture. 

The Pantun team will ensure a strict quality control process before it is released to customers. Syafiq tells FocusM

On the unique feature of their pins, Syafiq says, “Our pins are made of iron and brass and they don’t wear out.”

“We introduced the rubber clutch because it gives people the flexibility of putting it at places where it can be sensitive. For example, if you were to put the pin around your neck, the clutch won’t scratch your skin.”

On the pricing, Shaq says most of its general collections would cost RM25 per piece. “The exclusives [done by artists] are sold at RM35. Every design is a limited run and once we have sold out a design, we won’t produce it anymore as we want each pin to be a collectible.”

“We have new batches of pins [several designs] every month and will time our releases so people won’t get bored of it,” he adds.

Pantun’s sales channels are 60% online and 40% from its stockists. “We have eight stockists of which six are in the Klang Valley, including Kinokuniya bookstore in KLCC, one in Penang [The Swagger Salon] and one in Johor Bahru [Sticky Box].

“This is a ‘millennial’ product, made by us for people like us. Our customer base comprises mostly college kids to working adults.

“Area-wise, it’s spread out throughout Malaysia and we also receive orders from Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia. There are also Malaysian students who order our pins to get a piece of home with them,” Shaq shares.

To ensure efficient delivery to customers, Pantun works with a company called Tresco which manages its packaging and delivery. The latter individually bubble-wraps the pins and ensures it does not have any creases.

“It cost RM5 for each delivery and if the purchase is more than four items, the delivery is free. Pantun has seen a lot of repeat orders lately but it feels that there is much more that it can explore.

Chern Loo, who is a graffiti artist that goes by the name of Cloakwork, is the primary designer for Pantun. He brainstorms with the team on a weekly basis on what comes next, and is joined by Shawn Tan who is more involved on the retail side.

Syafiq shares on the challenge to create outstanding yet relevant designs. “A piece that we do is never copy and paste, even if we do something that is similar to what is out there, there will be something that sets us apart. The designs that has pop culture reference is the most challenging to make.”

 

Moving forward with collaborations

PANTUN Pins endeavours to be more than just a pop culture product maker. It aims to become a leading lapel pin company in Malaysia.

Pantun Pins has been progressive in creating one-of-a-kind pins for customers and has collaborated with local artists (graphic designers) such as Sherwan Rohzan, Buffergang and a company called PB&J to expand their collection for exclusive releases.

They have also been called to produce event merchandise for corporate clients and event organisers. Pantun Pins was involved with the official merchandise for a festival called Urbanscapes as well as Sneakerlah.

On the company’s plan for expansion, co-founder Syafiq Mohd Noh says: “We approach things very cautiously because we really want to take care of the brand. Some businesses expand very fast that they tend to forget why they started.”

“We’re not in a rush to scale massively as we are still having fun with it. However, we are not closing our doors to opportunities.”

Another co-founder Shafiq Aznir or Shaq says, “We feel like we barely scratched the surface in Malaysia. “We want to get out to the masses here, but we do hope to expand to other countries in Southeast Asia.

“We feel there’s a lack of representation of the region in pin designs. There are all kinds of cultural elements that we can include in the designs,” he adds.

 



This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 253.