If you love fine jewellery and trinkets, then you won’t be needing an introduction to this bejewelled local powerhouse, Jenn Low. The founder of the homegrown enterprise will soon be celebrating the 12th anniversary of her pride and joy, Wanderlust + Co.
However, in case you do need a refresher on who Jenn is, we have a steady archive on the jewellery brand and herself. As a founder, Jenn has done it all, from growing a global community to getting Wanderlust + Co’s pieces on some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities such as Jessica Alba, Selena Gomez, and models Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner.
Along the way, she has also experienced challenges that have tested her test her agility and grace. On one occasion, Wanderlust + Co’s designs were copied by a major fast-fashion company, SHEIN. Sparing no one, the COVID-19 pandemic also forced Jenn and her team to quickly shift gears to accommodate the pandemic ground rules. Yet these tough times did not deter the founder’s warm heart, as she continued to not only produce some of the best in local jewellery but she also delved into providing for children that are in need through Project Happy Bags, an effort that she embarked on with her then-four-year-old daughter Olivia.
As she now heads toward the 12th year of running the successful brand and her team, Jenn Low talks about her metamorphoses, the moments that made this beloved label what it is today, what sparks her creativity, and more.
On 1 September 2022, catch their latest drop, “SKYE”, which is a special collection that will be launched in celebration of the brand’s anniversary.
From working out of her house to now relocating to Wanderlust +Co’s second HQ, Jenn Low reminisces on the 12 years of the brand and sets her sights on the future.
It’s pretty surreal going into the 12th year because for most people, we feel like we lost two years from the pandemic. As a founder, a brand to me is almost like a person with a personality; it’s always living and growing. When we took a pause for two years and we went pure digital, it wasn’t difficult as we have always been digitally native, but we felt like we couldn’t connect with our community and do things we are passionate about such as styling in person and having pop-ups.
Coming to 12 years to me is really amazing especially given the two years we had. There are definitely days or months I lack inspiration. But coming into 12 years, I feel completely re-inspired again and all the possibilities we have ahead of us.
The days can go very long and years can go very short.
In my entrepreneurial journey, I come to appreciate the ups and the downs. My journey as a person and as a founder is so different to when I started the business. When I first started, it’s a lot to do with instant gratification and pushing for the brand to be known. Today, my journey is more on what we want to be known for. Although it has gone past in a flash, my purpose and mission have evolved since, which is great and fun!
We are wired to always want more and push for more. If you ask 26-year-old Jenn, if the brand is what she envisioned, I would say it was more than what she envisioned. But if you ask 38-year-old Jenn today, she will say it is far from it.
For example, there is a goal post, it’s in the sand. You run towards it, and as you get there, you move that goal post. We are always moving the goal post, and that’s part of why founders drive change.
I am the type of person that never takes things for granted. Growing up, my parents always taught me to work for what I want, and you get what you give. In my household, we always had a generous spirit. Generous in terms of giving our time and energy, giving someone your full attention and establishing eye contact. And that is what I have invested in the business.
“Never giving up.” I have never thought of giving up, but I did feel defeated at times.
Defeat is only temporary, and sometimes the universe works in a mysterious way. Oftentimes, it’s a blessing not to get what you want because there’s always a silver lining and a different journey that’s much more meant for you.
Today, I am much more patient, understanding and experienced as to why some things take longer, and good things take time.
Make It Yours Campaign
One of the key moments I’m really proud of, is our campaign Make It Yours which we launched in celebration of our 10th anniversary. We were the first Asian-based brand to use five models of five different ethnicities. When we launched that campaign, in the Malaysian scene, many thought that it was an Estee Lauder campaign. To me, it was a huge compliment, because we definitely do not have a multinational beauty brand budget but we really created from our heart and it reflected. The message that women of all different sizes and skin tones are loved and have a place was heard loud and clear via the campaign.
Watching my team grow
Women will only put their hands up when they are ready. As a manager, I will push my team and specifically, when I know they will shine because I believe in elevating strengths rather than highlighting weaknesses. It’s a real joy to me to see my people grow. By growth, it doesn’t necessarily mean they stay with the brand. They spend some years here and then they move along into a new role I’m so proud of them for. One of our ex-marketing managers is now the head of category of a multinational platform (head of category in jewellery). It’s amazing to see and I’m so proud of the talented women. They sometimes come in as a fresh graduate, and when they leave they are a full-blown confident woman.
Our journey in sustainability
These days, things are commercial and it’s easy to not be aware or make it a focus in terms of the footprint we leave. We started our journey of sustainability five years ago (during our eighth anniversary). It’s a true labour of love because it’s very hard at that time from packaging to product to our carbon footprint. So I’m super proud of the strides we made as a jewellery brand based in Malaysia in terms of our journey in sustainability and caring for our makers.
I would love for us to drive more pop-ups and experiential moments for our local #WCOgirlgang community. I would also say that it would be lovely to create more diffusion categories on top of what we already offer our customers. On top of jewellery and bags, it will be nice to drop little capsules like apparel or other categories that represent the Wanderlust + Co energy and it’s a limited-edition piece for our community to collect.
We’ve paused collaborations with brands for the moment. We are looking at refining our product offering next year. Currently, we are dropping two main drops in a month based on trends and seasonality. However, next year we are looking to grow our classics range (jewellery you never need to take off). In this range, it will be purely made from 925 sterling silver. It’s designed for the modern lifestyle and the modern person, which we started this range about three years ago. It’s a range that has been growing steadily and it’s been growing in our pipeline.
Trust to me is about trusting the process, journey, myself, and my team. The opposite of trust is doubt and it’s not something we need in our life. It’s one of the most magical things in the world when you feel you can trust someone. You feel good and safe, so you can thrive. Trust is very important.
Not to give up or know when you need to give up. Grit means tenacity as well.
Creativity is important in the fashion and digital industry. It’s a form of play, and it helps you to problem solve and think outside of the box. Creativity is what lifts your spirit and soul when you are feeling down, you have to be creative to solve a problem, or to motivate your team. You have to get things done in a way nobody has thought of before, to improve a situation or drive a business.
People need to find the time to understand themselves better. Social media and popular culture spend a lot of time telling you how you should be thinking and doing and there’s a huge culture of comparison. I think if you feel charged listening to people share their stories and experience, you should do that. Some people need a lot of downtime to recharge.
Personally, I am a bit of a blend. I love trying new experiences whether it’s food or wine or retail experiences or chatting with people from different industries. After all the inspiration, to filter it down to “what are the next steps and applications for the business” after all the noise, I need a bit of quiet time to make lists and read up more. So, understand yourself, know what charges you and what depletes your energy and apply it according to the situation.
When I see people in my team feeling a little down or looking a little tired, I would ask them to take some time off. Personally, I would take some quiet time out. I like spending my time in nature especially recharging by the beach. I love reading, although I do not have enough time to read!
Understanding your thoughts in terms of what is factual and emotional is something that’s not talked about that often. One of the things I’ve learnt over the years is emotional intelligence. Sometimes it’s okay to feel sad, tired, and burnt out. After you accept how you are feeling, you should ask yourself if this is useful for you. “Do I keep going down this path to feel this,” or “do I make this choice to want to feel different?” And “what decision do I have to make to pull myself out of it?”
A big part of being burnt out is feeling a lack of control, especially observed during the pandemic. When the whole world went into lockdown, there were many restrictions. But we can be in charge of how we feel, it’s empowering to feel in control of our feelings.
I am very short and pointed to managing my tasks. I am a very clear person to share the next steps. Before I became a mom, I was feeling insecure and afraid. But what motherhood has really taught me is that it helps you edit the truly unimportant things out, and it forces you to make choices because you aren’t going to get all the things you want.
My kids in some ways are good for my mental health because they inspire me to take check of what’s truly important.
I am already seeing these changes. I feel like a better manager because I’m really applying my energy, compassion, and time to what really matters most, because my children help me look through the lens of how as founders, we are all contributing to, hopefully, a better world.
I read this quote somewhere, “Leave the world a better place than you find it for the future generation”. If not for my kids, I will not feel that in its totality. I now deeply understand what that means with children. That’s what changed most for me in terms of work.
I would love to explore a children’s line or a mommy-and-daughter line in terms of jewellery or apparel. It’s a whole other area, but I guess it’s a win and if I have more time I would love to do it. I just want it to be fun, like breathable fabrics. Nothing is set in stone yet, though!
All images: Wanderlust + Co.