Sarangly was founded by Ellie, a young entrepreneur from Laselle, who is set to make every meaningful moment last with beautiful customised crafts that speak to the heart with a delicate, beautiful message of appreciation. “Sarang” means love in Korean, and for Ellie, gift-giving is a heartfelt way for people to spread love to each other.

Taking personalisation a further step, Sarangly’s Augmented Reality (AR) musical boxes are an experiential gift like never before. With a futuristic touch of AR to bring photos and videos ‘alive’, their AR musical boxes allow you to travel back in time, relieve joyous memories and transform traditional musical boxes into a sentimental keepsakes.

We spoke to Ellie to understand more about her inspirations, creative process and more.

TVM: In addition to being the founder of the startup, I understand that you are also actively involved in the designing of the products. Can you walk us through your creative process?

Ellie: I’ll usually begin with conducting market research to identify what is missing or what are the untapped opportunities in the market. For instance, for our AR Musical Box, I realised that there were no personalised gifts in the market integrated with AR technology.

Next, I’ll generate some ideas and do several rough sketches on my iPad, before gathering materials to create my prototypes. After a few rounds of experimentation, I’ll come up with a final product and soft launch it on my website and social media page.

During the soft launch, I gather engagement data such as likes and comments to gauge the market demand. I will also collect customer feedback to further improve my product, before mass producing and officially launching the product.

TVM: What are your creative inspirations? Where do you draw from?

Ellie: I have a few friends working in the technology industry which inspired me to look into new technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR). I had the idea to blend gifts and technology together. I also have a background in product design which has equipped me with the skills and knowledge to design and manufacture my gifts.

TVM:  What is gifting as a business?

Ellie: We decided to create Sarangly, a brand that believes in spreading love and appreciation through the art of personalised gifting.

TVM: What were your main motivations behind launching the startup?

Ellie: I started Sarangly hoping to earn enough money to fund myself for my university fees. My parents wanted me to find a stable job, but it has always been my dream as a designer to have my own brand and become an entrepreneur. As such, I decided to take a leap of faith to launch Sarangly just before starting university.

TVM: You started quite young. What were some of the main challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

Ellie: Having dealt with financial issues in my family since young, my parents wanted me to get a stable job after graduating from polytechnic rather than becoming an entrepreneur or further pursuing my studies. However, I’ve always wanted to start a business on my own and pursue a university degree. Not going through with my parents’ advice made it difficult to garner support from them, especially since I was planning to start a business in the midst of the pandemic.

When I first started Sarangly, we faced challenges such as logistical issues resulting in the delayed launch and getting support from those around me. While these issues gradually got better when Sarangly grew and sales started to pick up, it was difficult to juggle between my full-time studies and Sarangly, and I found myself feeling overwhelmed and stressed often. However, seeing how my products put a smile on my customer’s and their giftees’ faces, reminded me of why I started this business -to spread love and appreciation through gifting. This gave me the strength to persevere and try my best to overcome the challenges faced.

TVM: What’s the most satisfying part of your job- heartening customer stories or the creative side of things?

Ellie: I had a customer who messaged me to ask me if I could rush out an AR musical box for her friend because her friend was unfortunately in a critical condition. She sent me videos and photos of them together, to show her friend one last time how much she loved her. A few days later, the customer messaged me to thank me for rushing the order so her friend could see it in time. It made me feel like what I did had an impact on both my customer and her friend and it was very heartening that I got a chance to be part of that moment, which was one of my most unforgettable experiences.

TVM: I understand that you launched the company to fund your uni fees. That’s a bold and courageous move. What would you say to young women who might be scared to believe in themselves and take the leap of faith as you did?

Ellie: Being in the female-dominated gift industry, I hope to be able to inspire and empower those around me; my family, friends and aspiring female business owners to have the confidence to follow their dreams. One of my most memorable and heart-warming moments was when some of my female friends shared with me that seeing me start Sarangly gave them the courage to start a business of their own. I strive to continue to be a positive influence and role model to my female peers and business owners to pursue their dreams.

Learn more about Sarangly at https://sarangly.com

By Surabhi Pandey

Surabhi Pandey, a former Delhi Doordarshan presenter, is a journalist currently based in Singapore. She is the author of ‘Nascent Wings’ and ‘Saturated Agitation’ and has contributed to over 15 anthologies in English and Hindi in India and Singapore. She writes on topics related to lifestyle and travel and is an active reporter on the tech startup ecosystem in Southeast Asia. She is the editor and founder of The Vent Machine.

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