TRADING | BERNIAGA

The Pillow Maker

Ang Siew Wah

With the owner of
Kien Seng & Co
Ang Siew Wah, 69

Conversation on
6 March 2020

Kien Seng & Co
66 Jalan Bunga Raya
06-282 2686

Operating Hours:
9.30am - 5.00pm
(except Sundays)

How long has this shop been open?
73 years already. My father-in-law started it until now. He sold singlets, towels, socks. In fact we sell everything, unlike now we got supermarkets.

Now what do you sell?
Pillow and mattresses. Bed sheets and curtains. And I sew a lot of patchwork.

From where do you get the materials?
All from China.

Can you tell us the process to make the pillows?
It takes 1 kg for a normal pillow. If it’s big, it’s about 1.5kg. Bolsters also we do, that’s also about 1.5kg. First, you sew the case for the pillow. Then you fill it in. Everything we do our own lah. Only import the cotton.

How many workers work for you?
Only 2 workers. I will do most of it. Then my son will fill the pillows. And my son will send out the orders. My son is doing the sales. Sometimes they come here and order. Or they just call and order. Mostly the supermarkets order. And sometimes my son would go to small towns like Muar and Jasin.

How long have you been making pillows as a business?
22 years.

What do you do with the leftover materials?
I do patchwork. And I do some rugs. Blankets and mats too.

In a day how many pillows can you produce?
A lot. Sometimes if we get an order for 100 pillows, we can make it in one day.

When do you start and finish your day?
Our time is usually from 9.30 am till 5.00 pm.

“I learned by myself lah. Before I didn’t know how to sew. Before, when husband was alive the business was not so good. So, I decided to learn a new trade lah, sewing”

How much do you charge for the pillows?
The big one is RM18 and we have the RM16 and RM15 and the cheapest is around RM7.

Your husband was born and brought up in this house?
My husband was born here but he passed away 20 years ago. After my husband passed away, I started this extra business such as making pillows and the patchwork.

How’s business now?
Very slow. Luckily I sold a lot before this Coronavirus thing came about.

How did you learn to sew?
I learned by myself lah. Before I didn’t know how to sew. Before, when husband was alive the business was not so good. So, I decided to learn a new trade lah, sewing. I tried it first. I sew a few pillows then I put it outside the shop. And people did buy it. So, slowly the business grew from it.

Where are your customers from?
Mosty Chinese, from Singapore, KL and Penang. Because this is really a handwork piece. I think I’m the only one in Melaka who does it. All is done with handwork. No machine or factory made. And for the factories mostly they put rubbish inside the pillows. We’re 100% pure cotton pillows. And we got the best cotton wool direct from the trees. The expensive pillows cost about RM55 per pillow. And the [cheapest] pillow is RM18.

Later on will your son continue this trade?
Hopefully lah