Learning > Inspiration

Cool Grandma runs her own blogshop

Kerri Heng on 13 Jul 2014

The New Paper


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Young people are not the only ones hawking their wares online. In 2014, TNP met a then 77-year-old who was doing it too. Today, Madam Ng Suan Loi is still running the blogshop. She turns 80 in 2017 and even has a movie role under her belt. The owner of Jing Jing's Kelantan Batik was in Jack Neo's 2016 hit Long Long Time Ago as Ah Ma. If that was not enough to prove that age is no limit to expanding ones horizons, the jovial grandmother of 11 also volunteers actively.


Think blogshop and you may picture an online venture run by a woman in her 20s.


But this 77-year-old great-grandmother wants to give blogshops a run for their money.


Madam Ng Suan Loi, affectionately known as Ng Jing Jing, sells handmade batik clothes and bags on her online store, JingJing's Kelantan Batik.


Madam Ng, who grew up in a village in Malaysia's Kelantan, makes colourful and painstakingly patched batik dresses, pyjama tops and bottoms, tote bags and pouches.


Her products go from $5 to $25 at her online store on The Shop City - Singapore's equivalent of Etsy.com.


"I use high quality hand-printed batik from my hometown. But sometimes, I also include machine-printed Indonesian batik, which is cheaper," says Madam Ng, who occasionally returns to Kelantan to visit her relatives.


The lively woman shares with this reporter that she never went to school.


"In those days, kids during World War II were very poor. If we wanted to learn anything, we had to depend on ourselves," she says in fluent Mandarin.


And learn, she did. Madam Ng taught herself to stitch and sew by watching her aunt, who used to make batik clothes in her village.


"I practised a lot and slowly learnt how to sew well," recounts Madam Ng, who used to work as a seamstress.


She adds that she handmade all her children's clothes when they were young as store-bought clothes were expensive.


Showing this reporter one of her handmade batik bags - lined with a pretty waterproof layer on the inside - Madam Ng says each of her products is unique.


"I design every piece on my own, each piece is a mix and match of different batik patterns," she maintains.


She also shares that the inspiration for selling her handmade batik items arose when she was holidaying in Kuantan.


"A batik seller wanted to buy the batik bag I was carrying. I had made it myself and all my things were inside, so I didn't sell it to her," she recollects.


It was then Madam Ng realised that people had an eye for what she made.


She explains: "I like creating clothes that match and adding bursts of bright colour to them."


She shows this reporter a tastefully designed set of pink-and-blue pyjamas, complete with matching ribbons and trouser hems.


At first, she sold her products through word of mouth, but her eldest daughter suggested that she market her products online.


So in June last year, with the help of her daughter, granddaughter and daughter-in-law, Madam Ng launched her online store at theshopcity.com/shopat/JingJIngKelantanBatik.


They help to model her batik clothes, take photographs and upload them on the site.


Her family also manages the store's online posts and transactions as they are in English.


The talented woman - who speaks a smattering of broken English - had taught herself to read and write in Chinese. When she was a young girl, she read picture books with simple Chinese text.


Madam Ng now reads scripts in Chinese - she works part-time as an actress in Singapore and Malaysia.


Indeed, she recently took part in a supporting role as a grandmother in the movie Filial Party.


The great-grandmother is conversant with Facebook, WhatsApp and instant messaging platform WeChat.


"My grandchildren taught me how to use the apps. I share photos on Facebook and chat with family and friends overseas," she says.


Source: The New Paper © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.


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