Tuft Bar: Turning a hobby of yarns and rugs into a tufting studio

Surrounded by a wall of colourful threads and equipped with a handheld tufting gun, Sherlyn Tang demonstrates the process of tufting step-by-step, pushing and pulling loops of yarn through a stretch of canvas.

The sense of community and creativity that comes from the art of tufting is one of the reasons why the 24-year-old decided to transform her rug-making hobbies into Brunei’s first-ever tufting studio, Tuft Bar.

According to Sherlyn, who is also a full-time eyelash technician, Tuft Bar was established in February 2022, serving as a tufting studio and workshop for participants of all ages and abilities and specialising in custom hand-tufted rugs.

Image: Azrina Zin

“Tuft Bar was born during the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The motivational force behind starting this business was a desire to create a unique and personalized experience for customers while also providing an outlet for my creative passion,” she shared.

The pandemic brought a wave of newfound hobbies from crocheting to baking to pass the time. For Sherlyn, it opened up a whole new world of virtual learning.

With little to do during the pandemic, the 24-year-old has turned to social media for inspiration.

According to the creativepreneur, her business inspirations came from scrolling through social media. She was inspired by their unique-looking and beautifully-designed tufted rugs.

“During the pandemic, many people were spending more time at home and looking for new hobbies and ways to decorate their living spaces. I saw an opportunity through social media on the ‘On-Going Trending Activities’ in other countries and I began my journey on Tufting with all the studies I did and this is where I developed an interest in tufting,” she said.

Image: Azrina Zin

From loops to knots, the self-taught entrepreneur wanted to learn more about other techniques of rug-making, so she invested in a tufting gun.

Once the 24-year-old got her very first tufting gun, she fell in love with creating expressive pieces of textile art.

She also shared that she loves the process of crafting because it is very relaxing and also therapeutic.

The self-taught maker has always had an interest in crafts and art but had never thought of turning her hobby into a business until she sold her first piece.

“Turning tufting into a business career was a gradual process that started with creating custom rugs for friends and family, and eventually led to the founding of Tuftbar,” she shared

Image: Azrina Zin

Before delving into her tufting business, the creative maker documented her creative journey and shared photos of her finished products with her family and friends.

“I began by creating a small portfolio of my work and showcasing it on social media platforms such as Instagram. This allowed me to build a following and attract potential customers who were interested in my services,” she added

However, what started as a productive way to pass time slowly gained a sustainable following.

With the growing demand and success, the young entrepreneur started off by creating custom-made rugs for commission.

“I then started to offer my tufting services on a commission basis, creating custom rugs for clients who were looking for a unique and personalised home decor piece. This allowed me to develop my skills and build my reputation as a tufting artist,” she further added.

“As the demand for my services grew, I realized that there was a potential to turn my passion for tufting into a business. I began to research the market and explore different business models that would allow me to offer my services to a wider audience,” she shared.

When discussing her inspiration to open a tufting studio, Sheryl shared that she realised there was a growing demand for the market which inspired her to turn her pandemic-born hobby into a fun and entertaining workshop where people can learn to create handmade rugs for themselves.

“After all the restrictions of Covid-19 had been lifted up, that’s where I began to set up my own studio for my Tufting Workshop. The journey has been challenging but also incredibly rewarding and I am excited to see where Tuftbar will take me in the future.,” she said.

Tuft Bar opened its doors to the public in September last year in Menglait. She initially wanted to get things up and running early last year, but the COVID-19 outbreak has put those plans on hold.

Image: Azrina Zin

A New Home for Tuft Bar

Tuft Var recently moved to Kg Kiarong following the closure of its first studio in Menglait.

Located at Unit 11, Second floor, Block A, Spg 188, Kg Kiarong, Jalan Pg Babu Raja Gadong, the decision to relocate the studio came after the budding entrepreneur noticed its strategic location.

Further adding that the building, located in the arterial area of Kiarong is characterised by retail, restaurants and residential, also offering ample parking space and easy accessibility for customers.

The newly relocated studio, which spans around 1200 sq ft, is bigger and can now accommodate up to 15 pax.

Inside the new studio, you are greeted by a wall of 40 colours of cotton blended yarns and a workstation for your tufting designs.

Image: Tuft Bar

Make your own rug at Tuft Bar

Whether you are starting out or want to add new techniques to your repertoire, Tuft Bar offers hands-on introduction to tufting to suit all designs and abilities.

The three-hour class will cover the basics of threading and operating a tufting gun and how to cut, glue, and finish a tufted piece.

In the workshop, participants will receive their own tufting gun, frame, yarn and DIY kit including everything you will need to tuft on your own item

“Our tufting workshops are designed to teach individuals the art of tufting, and it’s perfect for anyone looking to learn a new creative skill or explore their passion for textiles,” she shared.

Image: Tuft Bar

Tuft Bar highlights Sherlyn’s desire to provide her customers high-quality service and experience.

“At Tuft Bar, we believe in providing a memorable and enjoyable experience for our customers. From the moment they visit our Instagram Page to the moment they receive their customized rug, we strive to provide exceptional customer service and a personalized touch. We are dedicated to helping our customers create a space that truly reflects their unique style and personality,” she said.

Image: Tuft Bar

However, when asked about challenging aspects of the business, she said that although she enjoys the creative process, it is the administrative aspect she finds challenging.

“As an entrepreneur, some of the challenges that I face include managing finances, building a brand, and growing my customer base. It can be challenging to balance the creative aspects of my tufting business with the administrative and business management tasks that are necessary for success,” she shared.

According to Sherlyn, the process of tufting is not as easy as social media makes it seem. She shared that during her journey there have been some trials and errors, but she pushes through them.

“As a tufting artist, some of the challenges include sourcing high-quality materials, creating designs that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional, and managing the physical demands of the tufting process,” Sherlyn said.

“One of the biggest challenges of tufting is maintaining consistent tension throughout the process, which requires precision and attention to detail. It can also be physically demanding, as tufting involves repetitive motions and can be hard on the hands and wrists,” she said,

“Additionally, tufting is a time-consuming process that requires a significant investment of time and energy. It can be challenging to balance the time demands of tufting with the other responsibilities of running a business,” she added.

“Despite these challenges, I am always committed to pursuing my passion for tufting and entrepreneurship, and I continue to work hard to overcome obstacles and achieve my goals,” she further added.

Sherlyn shared customers’ response to the studio has been positive.

Image: Azrina Zin

“Through hard work, perseverance, and a dedication to quality and customer service, I was able to establish Tuftbar as a recognized brand in the tufting and home decor community.”

When asked about the future plan, she shared that she wants to focus on growing the business and also wants Tuftbar to one day become a prominent brand in the tufting community.

“In terms of the next big step for Tuft Bar, it could be expanding its reach and customer base by exploring new markets, collaborating with other artists, businesses, or launching new product lines,” she shared

Not just that, but Tuft Bar is also eyeing expanding its presence in the Sultanate.

“Tuft Bar could also consider investing in marketing and branding efforts to increase its visibility and awareness among potential customers,” she said.

“In the next few years, Tuft Bar may aim to establish itself as a leading provider of tufting workshops and customized rug services. It may also explore opportunities to expand its business beyond its current location by establishing a presence in other cities or online,” she concluded.

Image: Azrina Zin


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