Sereni Linggi and Shen-Tel Lee: the 'accidental headband designers' behind Sereni&Shentel
In part 1 of our power pair feature, we speak to Sereni Linggi and Shen-Tel Lee of Sereni&Shentel about their home-grown brand of headbands, all hand-made in Kuching.
When it comes to fun and quirky hair accessories, no one has got it covered better than home-grown brand, Sereni&Shentel. Colourful, fun and extremely cheeky, Sereni&Shentel headbands, which borrow their roots from the humble town of Kuching, Sarawak, have made it as far as to grace the crowning glory of royalty as well as to make an appearance in the US hit television series, Gossip Girl. If you need any more convincing of its success, one of its headbands have even visited Wisteria Lane and perched itself in the mane of Eva Longoria on another primetime TV series, Desperate Housewives.
Behind the huge, colourful success are two best friends, Sereni Linggi and Shen-Tel Lee. The duo, who call themselves “accidental headband designers”, were not kidding with the nickname – it all started because they didn’t have anything to wear to a Lady Gaga concert!
Designing and stitching by hand their own headbands soon turned into an international business that they never saw coming. We borrowed the duo for a few minutes to talk about what’s it like running a business with your best friend.
Hairbands are very girlish accessories. What are your takes on hairbands in the boardroom or red carpet events?
Sereni: Headbands can be worn for any occasion. We have a wide range of designs suitable and subtle enough for work, school or play. We also have a custom online application on our website that allows the customer to custom make their own headband. A first for the headband world! We’ve had customers wear our luxe designs on the red carpet and also for beauty contests and weddings.
Shen-Tel: Women have always been obsessed with accessorising their hair. From crown jewels, to feathers and flowers, this decorative form of expression will always be a part of fashion. We don’t see hair accessories as being a girlie thing, in fact many men have commissioned pieces from us. Our headbands have been designed to suit all kinds of personalities.
Who designs all your products and where are they made?
Sereni: We design all our products ourselves and they are hand-made in our workshop in Kuching by a small team of artisans.
Shen-Tel: We take inspiration from things that are happening in our lives. Our bow ties and hair clips came after we both had children. Before we had kids we were not so inspired to break into the babies and children’s market.
I had a little boy and was desperate to get something into the range that I could accessorise my little one with. After we created the bow clips for baby girls, we saw an instant bow tie for boys in the design.
New from Sereni&Shentel, the Tomy K Limited Edition Artist Series. Shop now here.
What are some of the biggest advantages to having a partner in running the business?
Sereni: We can double the work load and play tag team so that there will always be at least one person on the job 24-7. We are also constantly on the look out for new business ventures that fit with our existing brands.
Shen-Tel: Sereni had the business background that I never had, and I had the graphic skills to get a business started. We were the perfect balance and we work well in our specialised fields. The best part about having her as my partner is that we both have the same work ethic. We both have an almost obsessive compulsives approach to work and are always on the same page when it comes to the businesses we work for.
How did you know you can work together and complement one another in terms of ideas and direction for the business?
Sereni: When we first met we completed each other’s sentences and still do today. We make decisions quickly and are both practical in our approach to business. We also don’t take any work related issues personally and are able to keep our friendship separate from work.
Shen-Tel: For us it came naturally. We finish each others sentences and have a very similar eye when it comes to design. We have always respected each other’s thoughts and are great listeners. I think the key to our partnership is our ability to let go of things we don’t agree on and work to find a solution we are both happy with.
How would you advise someone looking to go into business in identifying a potential business partner? What are the things to look out for to know you’re compatible?
Sereni: Find a partner that complements your personality and understands your needs and the business well. It’s important to have the same vision and common goals. Also look for someone who is completely honest with you.
Shen-Tel: Honesty, friendship and loyalty are key in finding a business partner. If you don’t have these I don’t think a successful partnership will work. You cannot force a partnership in my eyes. Like all relationships there has to be chemistry. Without it, it would be a pretty miserable time in the office.
Why are two heads better than one?
Sereni: Double the work, double the fun!
Shen-Tel: You get twice the amount of drive, fun, and energy. You get to see different perspectives and ideas.
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