THE festive season and the search for gifts have begun for many, and Crafty Mugs may help shoppers craft the perfect mug to suit any personality.
Samantha Rajkumar, from Marabella, San Fernando, is the founder and creative director of the brand, which emerged from her desire for independence – to make her own money, using skills she already had to start her own business.
Crafty Mugs, an online business, provides custom hand-painted mugs and drinkware which can be personalised to suit the customer’s vision.
“I don't think anyone on Instagram was doing this service, so I had a really good chance of being successful since it was a unique product,” Rajkumar said. “I posted my first product, which was a Rick and Morty mug, on my Instagram page and with the help of my friends, it was shared multiple times and I got my first sale.”
And so she began her business journey in 2019.
A final-year veterinary student at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Rajkumar has loved art since childhood.
Rajkumar, who attended San Fernando Central Secondary, commonly known as "Modsec," said, “In my free time, I would paint on canvas to ease my stress of school. However, I never really practised other art forms, other than what I did in art class in high school up to form three.”
The 25-year-old started binge-watching mug paintings by YouTubers who crafted and sold their products on the Etsy website.
Etsy is an e-commerce platform where people come together to make, sell, buy, and collect unique items. Her favourite YouTuber is Marko Terzo, known for his specialisation in customisation and DIY art, who has over 5.4 million subscribers.
“Watching my favourite artists on YouTube and binge-watching mug videos, I became inspired.
“I came across a video on how to make money by painting mugs and other products. That automatically flicked a switch in my brain that maybe I can do this as well. However, I never thought I would be as successful at it as I am today.
"I did a lot of research, bought the necessary products and began painting in 2019.”
Having done numerous personalised requests, she is open to new product requests from customers. Her prices start at $100 and go up to about $400, depending on how much detail the design needs.
“Depending on the design, I take anywhere from one hour to a few days. However, on average I may take five hours.
“I craft on mugs, bottles, teacups, teapots, beer mugs, and glass and glass plaques. I've also gotten a request in the past to customise a Hotwheels for someone who was a collector, which, surprisingly, I really enjoyed doing.”
Her most complex design is an Alice in Wonderland teapot, which took seven hours. She painted the Red Queen, the White Rabbit's famous watch, the Mad Hatter's hat and the Cheshire cat on it.
“The Cheshire cat has to be my favourite. The colours used were not very common colours that I usually paint with for custom orders, so it was great for a change.”
Explaining her creative process, she said, “First I begin making my stencils. Once I'm content with that, I proceed to transfer them to the mugs and begin painting. Once my painting is complete, I seal the painting in place and it's done.”
Deliveries to Southpark, San Fernando, and its environs are free, and orders are delivered to other areas by courier service for a fee.
She recently started a TikTok page for her business because of an algorithm change on Instagram.
“My products don't reach customers as they used to, so I am trying a different platform to reach more people.”
She is hoping she can expand her business to more painted products than just drinkware. Rajkumar buys mugs from a local store but is also looking into sculpting mugs herself.
“Additionally, I am in the process of adding 3D art on mugs, where I sculpt designs onto the mugs with clay. Hopefully, I'll be able to add those in 2023. I also hope I can do international orders one day.”
Rajkumar's advice for creators who are inspired by her work and want to create art or create similar work is, “It never hurts to try! Just because you have no experience in it doesn't mean you would not be good at it. Once you enjoy what you do and keep perfecting your craft, you will definitely be successful.
“I aspire to put smiles on customers' faces by bringing their ideas to life through my art.”
To find out more about Crafty Mugs: @Crafty_mugs on Instagram and TikTok.