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The opportunity to turn Ms. Carlos's hobby, crafting trinkets, into a sideline came in September 2011, when a friend invited her to sell her pieces at a cosplay event. At the time, she had just resigned from her job at a trading firm and was looking for ways to earn extra funds. Today, she also keeps busy as a freelance graphic designer.
The variety of her pieces led Ms. Carlos to choose "thingamabob," which means an unspecified item, for her business name. She first heard the word in the song "Part of Your World," from one of her childhood favorite movies, the Disney adaptation of The Little Mermaid.
Growing up, Ms. Carlos felt surrounded by creative minds. "My dad was an art director in McCann Erickson... My mom also makes accessories, so I learned some [techniques] from her." And like many of her relatives, Ms. Carlos showed a knack for drawing and painting.
Yet, Ms. Carlos said: "Even as a child, I liked to make my own accessories. Ayaw ko kasing may katulad (I didn't like to have others be the same as me)."
She then took up fine arts, with a major in advertising, at the University of Sto. Tomas. She learned to work with plaster in one of her classes and, later, to make pendants out of resin. Ms. Carlos molds resin into tiny figures like doll heads and decorates them with paint.
Initially, Ms. Carlos would simply buy key chains and turn them into necklaces; but she soon thought to make the venture more personal by molding, sculpting and painting her own pieces.
All Thingamabobs are proudly handmade. Prices range from ₱80 to ₱500. Best-sellers are the mother-of-pearl necklaces, and cloth pouches for gadgets, cosmetics, school supplies, and the like. Both kinds of products can have animals, cartoons and other designs on them.
Ms. Carlos also accepts a growing number of custom orders. "Iyon naman ang hanap ng mga tao ngayon (That's what people are looking for now)."
For the entrepreneur, buying local handmade goods helps SMEs as well as the environment. "Also, handmade often means one-of-a-kind," she said. For instance, styles on Thingamabobs' resin pendants may be repeated, but never in the exact same manner.
Ms. Carlos advises those who want to sell crafts to be resourceful, original, and open to new ideas. "You can search for items around the house to turn into jewelry… Read, visit art galleries, and keep broadening your mind."
She also believes that proper time management is crucial, especially for a solo startup. "It's all about setting priorities."
To market Thingamabobs, Ms. Carlos actively joins bazaars. "I have friends who own restaurants, so we sometimes hold our own community bazaars there," she added.
By the year's end, Ms. Carlos hopes to develop new products. "Right now I'm working on designs for dog collars. I want to do so many things, but still have to balance my time."