Lifestyle, Profiles, Stories

Modern Tao Ke: How This Chinoy-Owned Jewelry Shop Found Success

Whether you’re getting ready for a GoogleMeet with colleagues, a Viber video call with family, a Zoom call with your friends, or a quick errand run, nothing puts a finishing touch on an outfit quite like well-made jewelry pieces. But is buying jewelry in the midst of a pandemic worth it?

“Value in terms of what it’s worth to people buying them, for me, would be wanting to dress up, and ‘feel’ normal at a time when there is so much uncertainty,” said Kim Tiam-Lee, owner of Pulseras by Kim jewelry. “I’ve received tons of messages from customers making fun of themselves for buying jewelry with no place to go. But they always tell me that it’s uplifting to have something new and shiny to wear around your neck, or ears, and sometimes that excitement is enough to get you through another day working or studying at home.”

While there are many places you can buy jewelry from, why settle for the ordinary when you can get special custom pieces from Pulseras by Kim.

The catalyst

Kim’s small business started as a hobby back in 2013 and is now a well-known local jewelry business. “I’m really into creating DIYs with my hands and got into those friendship bracelet-type knotting techniques as a way to destress during my thesis year in college. [I] started posting & selling it to my friends at school and over on Facebook. Eventually, it gained more traction so I decided to make a business page and started doing pop-ups and bazaars in 2015.”

But crafting these beautiful jewelry pieces as a business was not what she had planned for. “I studied architecture and pursued that career for a time. I took the board exam, got my license, and worked at an architecture firm all while doing Pulseras on the side,” she tells us. “But I found myself really unhappy tied up working an 8-5 desk job. I guess a big push was when my mom passed in late 2015. I just realized life was too short to keep on doing something I wasn’t really happy doing every day.

“I’m still currently working ‘part-time’ on Pulseras, as I do have other ventures and work at our family business with flexible hours, but I’m much happier now than when my salary was based on the time I was punching in at work.”


Having a support system

Being happy owning your business is easy to say when it’s stable, but in the beginning, it can be pretty rocky. Pulseras by Kim was no exception. “Like with regular life, there are always low points. It helps to have a great support system to help you see things through a different light. I rant a lot, especially to my boyfriend, Jed, and it really helps that he’s such a light person to be around that he’ll twist situations or things around to make it funny rather than devastating.

“I also avoid comparing my journey with other people/brands, I just get really insecure that way. I’m a believer of focusing on yourself, your own journey, and to constantly learn and grow from the different situations thrown at you.”

She talks about a great support system, and that usually starts with family. “I’m lucky enough to have a very supportive family. When bazaars and going out were still a thing, my dad and sister used to always fetch me and help me pack up even if these events usually end at 11[pm] or 12 midnight.

“At my first ever pop-up back in 2015, my mom was my first saleslady, she stayed the whole time, bought me lunch, dinner and even drove me home. They also allow me to take days off for our events, especially back when I was a one-man team.”



Working with family

That kind of support is undeniably invaluable. While some people try to keep family and business separate, Kim thinks otherwise. “[I am] currently working with my sister, Tiffy, she’s my business partner for our fine jewelry line: Love, Susie. It’s in honor of our mom who loved giving us pieces of jewelry for different stages and celebrations in our life, that we wanted to share with our customers too. She currently works part-time, but we’re gearing up for her to take over the brand full-time and exploring more on-hand collections because right now we’re doing mostly custom rings, engagement, and wedding rings.”

Eventually, after their newest endeavor, Love, Susie, they opened a brick-and-mortar shop in mid-2019. “[Our brick-and-mortar shop] really freed up a lot of time and mental space for me. It was really scary because of the constant overhead expenses: rent, salary, utilities.” Yet, Pulseras by Kim has been doing well.

Best-selling jewelry

So which pieces are their bestsellers? Here’s what Kim tells us: “Their tiny ball studs in 1MM, 2MM, and 4MM, with the screwback option, being a current favorite because it’s more secure to wear compared to the push back locks, since everyone is constantly wearing masks. Thin ear huggers are also popular, they come in 6MM, 8MM and 10MM sizes.”

Source: Pulseras by Kim


“For custom pieces, our script necklaces have been on top since late 2020. We can turn any handwriting or font into a custom necklace, so that’s been a crowd favorite for gifting.”

Source: Pulseras by Kim


“For necklaces and bracelets, the different minimalist chain looks really amazing to stack & layer.”

Source: Pulseras by Kim


Based on her own experience, the successful entrepreneur offers some advice to help business owners get through the pandemic. “The best advice I could give is to recognize when something isn’t working and do something to actively change it. Sometimes we’re too caught up with pushing an idea, a certain way, that we forget there are other ways to achieve the same thing. Selling in a pandemic is definitely tough, and not the most ideal, but you have to go with the flow and pivot.”

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