ANY fan of Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler’s character on the hit TV series Parks and Recreation) knows how much she loves waffles. So much so that for Valentine’s Day in 2012, her then-boyfriend Ben Wyatt (played by Adam Scott) bought her a waffle necklace.

But you probably didn’t know that waffle necklace actually smelt like a waffle and was made by Malaysian jewellery-maker Pak Han Mei, the US-based founder of online “food jewellery” store Tiny Hands.

Even before Pak, 25, realised that the episode with her waffle necklace had aired, traffic on her website skyrocketed. Fanatic followers of the show had searched the web for the necklace and a Tumblr blogger managed to make the connection to Tiny Hands and shared this newfound information on her page. This was the tipping point that persuaded Pak to fully focus on her company.


Tools of the trade: Tiny Hands produces approximately 100 pieces each month, all carefully handmade.

“That was when the business really blew up and I was like, ‘Okay this has a lot of promise’,” she said. “Two years later, the waffle necklace is still my top selling product.”

The jewellery made by Tiny Hands is usually shaped after food like chocolate chip cookies and cotton candy and scented accordingly. They are handmade with polymer clay and are crafted by Pak and her two assistants. Each trinket takes at least three days to make because it takes time for the scents to set in.

Among the three of them, they produce about 100 pieces in a month. They often joke that they have “Zen hands” because they have to be extremely steady when making the intricate charms.

Still, business has been great so far. In fact, in the first half of 2014, Tiny Hands achieved six figure sales.


The waffle necklace worn by Amy Poehler’s character in Season 4 of Parks and Recreation brought more attention (and customers!) to Tiny Hands.

Although Pak has been selling handmade items since she was in secondary school, she only decided to pursue Tiny Hands full-time when she couldn’t land a job after graduating with a degree in actuarial science. Even then, the lack of capital meant Tiny Hands had a rocky start.

“I think a major problem starting out was just not having any money to do anything like my logo, all of my packaging, and my website,” explained Pak.

“I did all of the stuff myself because I couldn’t afford to pay a professional graphic designer or web designer. Everything was all DIY. I felt kinda limited in that sense and because of that, I think that I didn’t grow as fast as I wanted to.”

“It has always been a dream of mine to branch out and play the teacher role instead of just being a designer.”


Pak with the waffle necklace that was worn by Amy Poehler on Parks And Recreation. Get this: Pak has a degree in actuarial science!

However, this experience turned out to be for the better because it pushed Pak to learn how to run her business more independently. Pak is now so well versed in the marketing and financing of her small business that she teaches other crafters how to manage and promote their companies. She even runs an online course called In The Limelight, which she finds very fulfilling.

“It has always been a dream of mine to branch out and play the teacher role instead of just being a designer. I have a lot of friends who are also making jewellery or handbags and other creative things and I see a lot of them struggling and I want to help,” she said.

On top of that, Pak has also created Craftivity, an app she developed with her computer programmer husband Peter Chang. It helps other independent creatives become more productive.


Each Tiny Hands charm is scented according to the food it is shaped in.

It’s safe to say a large part of Pak’s success is because of her insatiable thirst for information. From learning about craft through online tutorials to teaching herself how to code in HTML and CSS, Pak is keen to know it all.

“I’m very obsessed with learning, so it was very natural for me to seek out information. A lot of it was trial and error. I did many online courses and I read a lot of books and basically just learnt from other people who have been there and done that.”

If you’re interested in Pak’s work, check it out here.


How digital marketing turned the GE14 tide

In a country where 88% of Malaysians aged 25-34 go online every day, it’s no surprise the political battle for supremacy happened on social media. Here’s how social media made Malaysian political history.

Read more Like this post1

#TeamSatpal: Taking the wheel

CAPTAIN Yogeswaran Gopal Krishnan first stumbled across what would turn out to be a lifelong passion for sailing when he accompanied his friend to work on a ship as a crew member.

Read more Like this post3

#TeamMayLee: From dreams to reality

CRUISING on a yacht with the sea breeze in his hair, Hamie Azuar Hamizan looks like he was born for the sea life.

Read more Like this post1

#TeamClaire: Plenty of opportunities at sea

DID you know that the first solar-powered boat in Malaysia was mostly built by local university students?

Read more Like this post1

#TeamSatpal: Racing to new heights

A FEAR of heights might have ended Muhammad Ziyad Muhammad Hamzah’s horse riding career before it even started, but growing up in a family of professional endurance horse trainers gave him the motivation to continue.

Read more Like this post0

#TeamMayLee: The trick rider’s tale

ABU Ubaidah Muhammad Hamzah is a showman on a horse. The 24-year-old specialises in trick riding, a special equestrian field that combines athletics, acrobatics and horse riding.

Read more Like this post0

#TeamClaire: Breeding the best

LANGKAWI is home to beautiful sandy beaches, crystal-clear water and, perhaps surprisingly, purebred Arabian horses.

Read more Like this post0

Malaysia needs sex education

by SATPAL KALER An estimated 18,000 underage girls get pregnant in Malaysia each year – and experts are saying enough is enough. Mariam*, 17, should’ve been preparing for her SPM exams when we met her in February last year. But instead, she was about six months pregnant and living in a shelter home for […]

Read more Like this post5

Desperate in Dhaka

R.AGE journalists followed the trail of student traffickers from Malaysia to Bangladesh, where they found an entire industry dedicated to trafficking.

Read more Like this post3

Living the journalism dream through BRATs

BRATs participant Deanna Mahadevan shares about the amazing journey that was BRATs Genting 2017!

Read more Like this post0

Lisa Surihani, social activist

Actress Lisa Surihani wants to make the world a better place, and is using her celebrity status to do so.

Read more Like this post1

Getting BRAT-ty in Genting

A sneak peek at what the BRATs young journalists got up to in the misty hills of Genting!

Read more Like this post2
Go top