Picking up the pieces (and trash)
By Patricia Hului
What would you do if you hit rock bottom in life?
How fast would you pick up the pieces?
For Abdul Nazri Abdullah and his wife Adriana Abdullah, their rock bottom came last year when Nazri faced financial difficulties in his business.
An engineer by profession, Nazri found himself jobless with his new wife whom he married in Feb 2015.
As for Adriana, originally from Manila, Philippines, she tried her best to help make ends meet by selling beauty products to her fellow countrymen and coconut water, with the help of her friend who happened to have a coconut tree.
Then an idea came to the 33-year-old businesswoman.
“In the Philippines, even beggars have food to eat. We needed to survive so I asked my friends for their trash,” she shared.
Just before the Christmas season last year, Adriana went around asking for empty beer and wine bottles from her friends working in karaoke bars and outlets.
“I thought to myself, what can we do with these bottles, so I looked up DIY videos on YouTube.”
That was when MaNoy Handicrafts was founded. MaNoy is a combination of Malaysia and Pinoy.
“Christmas was coming and we needed an income. People are willing to spend on Christmas gifts.”
Adriana said that was the right time to do something.
She turned the bottles into decorative table lamps by inserting Christmas lights and decorating them with whatever scraps such as old clothes she collected.
“We had 12 bottles to start and I sold them for RM45 each because there is nowhere else you could find it.”
Adriana spent the initial income she received on tools such as glue guns and paint.
They also started to pick up trash such as scrap metals, cut tree trunks at the roadside, stones, old tyres and plastic bottles.
The couple turned them into decorations, vases, candle holders, chandeliers, tables and chairs.
For Adriana, it was not easy to put aside their pride to collect trash from the streets.
“Some of our friends were laughing; asking what we were thinking collecting garbage and tyres in the middle of the night.”
But she told herself that one day they would not be the only ones collecting tyres and mineral bottles from the streets.
“We don’t want to be heroes. We want everybody to start doing the same thing that we are doing,” said Adriana.“I want my husband to realise doing this cannot let him down.”
This determination has translated itself to their company logo. “The first tool we bought was a glass cutter, which is why we used it on our logo. We want this cutter as a symbol of our faith and courage telling people not to lose hope.”
Though neither of them have learned art by the book, Adriana said: “Everyone can be an artist, as long as you understand yourself.”
Now the couple are selling their items through commission to food and beverage outlets and handicrafts stores.
With the encouragement of his wife, Nazri has taken a different path in his career and now teaches electrical engineering.
When he is not in the classroom, he is putting his time and talent into MaNoy Handicraft.
“If we want to do big business, we don’t have any capital so we are using our talent as our capital,” said Nazri.
They tried to learn everything from the basics such as how to cut a glass bottle.
Nazri said: “My wife is the creative one, she is in-charge of all the creative work.”
He stated that he was the implementer working on the technical aspect such as electrical wiring. “I needed to think about the maintenance and also the safety features. I also took other things into account like what if the bottles dropped from the chandeliers.”
“Our designs are simple, yet unique,” Nazri said. “We work more in glass but we also use mineral bottles and newspapers.”
Additionally, Nazri put his engineering to good use by designing his art pieces with an AutoCAD programme first before putting the material together.
Then he worked creatively on scrap metals such as bolts, nuts, chains, and oil filters turning them into small sculptures of cars, motorcycles and robots.
Yet, it has become more than just about earning money. Nazri said making something out of trash has also become a stress reliever for the couple.
“Rather than keep on thinking on the losses and mourning them, life must go on,” he added.
From Feb 23 till Mar 8, MaNoy Handicrafts put up an exhibition along the Kuching Waterfront displaying their items made out of trash.
Through this exhibition, the couple wanted to encourage the public to do their own DIY projects at home.
“We want to do this exhibition because we want people to know the value of each item and how to use it,” Adriana said. “If they do not want to buy, they can do all of these themselves. Then they can help the environment and save a lot.”
While they exhibited at the Kuching Waterfront for two weeks the couple also managed to pay it forward, hiring some of the homeless people in the area to help with their projects in return for food.
Nazri said, “They helped us to collect useful materials, cutting aluminium cans and plastic bottles.”
If you’ve missed their exhibition, their display will continue in Sarawak Plaza.
For more information, follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MaNoy-Handicraft-1341700875859490/