Ms Trixie Khong (left) of By Invite Only and Ms Tricia Ng of T. Atelier are among the new breed of jewellery designers in Singapore. -- Photographer DIOS VINCOY JR for The Straits Times; Make-up MAZ ISMAIL, chief make-up artist, Shu Uemura; Outfits and jewellery From Trixie Khong and Tricia Ng
Growing up, local jewellery designer Trixie Khong was more tomboy than girly girl, she notes. Close to her interior designer father, she used to watch him potter around the house fixing things.
"You were more likely to catch me with pliers than playing dress-up" says the 24-year-old Singaporean.
Driven by practical concerns, Khong got a diploma in chemical engineering. She went on to do a degree in communications and new media, but began crafting jewellery in 2009 during her first year in university as a creative outlet.
"I knew I could make jewellery," says the singleton, citing her childhood familiarity with the hardware involved. The self-taught designer sought out raw crystals and began plating them with gold, silver and stainless steel.
Says Khong: "I wanted to create something modern and edgy, instead of something safe. The materials, with their sharp edges, inspired me."
Gold Sharktooth necklace with 14K gold-plated sodalite, $98
This resulted in her jewellery label, By Invite Only, which Khong has been working on full-time since she graduated from the National University of Singapore two years ago.
Her necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings, which retail from around $50 to $150, feature raw crystals from Brazil and gemstones from India - all assembled in Singapore.
On who she designs for, Ms Khong says: "Anyone with a bit of a rebel inside of her. It could be a mother, a student, anyone. Someone who likes to take a little risk with her fashion and jewellery choices."
The brand name and logo, which were inspired by 16th-century circuses and written in vintage circus font, also alludes to that daring attitude.
"It was the imperfections and oddities that made things interesting," she says of that time period.
Gold Maria Trio stone bracelet with amethyst, citrine and garnet, $148
It seems like her edgy yet elegant aesthetic has struck a note with shoppers.
The brand is stocked at seven multi-label stores in Singapore, as well as in six stores in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Osaka and London. Khong's online store (www.byinviteonly.info) accounts for about 80 per cent of her sales.
On average, about 80 to 100 pieces of By Invite Only jewellery are sold every month through the online store. Sales figures for 2012, her first full year in operation, were in the mid-five figures, she says.
Knight In Shining Armour necklace with metallic silver quartz, $78
Next month, the brand will show at the Pure London fashion tradeshow for the first time - something that Khong is very proud of.
"It feels like validation on an international stage," she says of the huge clothing, footwear and accessories tradeshow which brings together more than 700 brands and 12,000 buyers.
Khong also participated in Singapore's Blueprint tradeshow last year and its shopping arm, Blueprint Emporium, this year.
Large Emma necklace with amethyst, $128
In moments of doubt, the young entrepreneur says she looks to herself, literally.
On her right arm is a tattoo of the Latin phrase, "cognito ergo sum" in tiny cursive script.
Meaning "I think, therefore I am", this mantra helps Khong remember that she can be who she wants to be by putting her mind to things.
It also reminds her to look within for answers, through the din of unsolicited advice from others.
Goldie Gold gold-plated quartz bracelet, $85
Her goals are to set up her own stand-alone store by 2016 and to keep growing her young brand.
Says Khong of the unique appeal of By Invite Only: "It's youthful, with its raw stones and unpolished quality."
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on July 26, 2013. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.