Bollywood inspired enamel pins for sale

(From far left) Mr Faizal Abdullah, Ms Nur Khairiyah Ramli and Mr Hafidz Rahman with their Bollywood-inspired pins. The Pinwallas' pins feature illustrations of Bollywood icons such as (from far left) Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Shah Rukh Khan and Ma
(From left) Mr Faizal Abdullah, Ms Nur Khairiyah Ramli and Mr Hafidz Rahman with their Bollywood-inspired pins.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
The Pinwallas’ pins feature illustrations of Bollywood icons such as (from left) Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Shah Rukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit.
The Pinwallas’ pins feature illustrations of Bollywood icons such as (from left) Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Shah Rukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

When enamel pin enthusiast Nur Khairiyah Ramli could not find a miniature Shah Rukh Khan for her lapel, she decided to make her own and started a business

Nur Khairiyah Ramli is an enamel pin enthusiast with a vast collection of pins in the shape of the Spice Girls, Polly Pocket and more.

However, the 30-year-old could not find the pin she really wanted: A miniature Shah Rukh Khan, to grace her lapel.

So she roped in two fellow Bollywood fanatics - her husband, Mr Faizal Abdullah, 33, and her best friend, Mr Hafidz Rahman, 29 - to make her own Bollywoodinspired pins.

The three, all professionally involved with theatre collective Hatch Theatrics, each invested $1,000in this side-project.

Besides the fact that she wanted to wear her interests on her sleeve, Ms Khairiyah saw a gap in the pin hobbyists' market. "We didn't see anyone else making Bollywood pins, so why not be the first to do it?"

Under the brand The Pinwallas, the pins, which feature illustrations of Bollywood icons such as Salman Khan in the 1998 romantic comedy Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya, are sold online for $18 each. The enamel pins with rubber clutches are illustrated and manufactured in the United States.

Each month, The Pinwallas - the name is a spin on "chaiwalla", the Hindi term for "tea-seller" - receives an average of 15 orders. One quarter of the orders are from overseas, as far away as Canada, the United Kingdom and Kuwait.

The first batch of 400 pins was rolled out in March this year with the Iconic Series, a set of four pins featuring Bollywood actors Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Aishwarya Rai and Shah Rukh Khan in their most memorable roles.

In April, the Love Triangle series was launched, each featuring a trio of romantically embroiled characters such as those played by Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol Devgn and Rani Mukerji in the 1998 film, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

More pins are in the works, including a possible Iconic Villains series, on-screen cops series and siblings-in-show-business series. If all goes well, production for these will start at the end of the year.

For now, there are no big plans to expand the business, although they do hope to find a stockist in India as online transactions are not popular there.

"It's really just a passion project and we want to share it with like-minded folks," Ms Khairiyah says.

"Of course, if there is a great demand for it, we will have to think about how we can reach a wider customer base. Our biggest hope is that every single Bollywood fan will have a pin from The Pinwallas."

The trio spend a lot of time brainstorming ideas for pin designs and whittling them down.

Bollywood is "an obsession" that has "taken over my life", says Mr Hafidz, who grew up watching Hindi movies. "One thing you have to give credit to Bollywood for is that it doesn't apologise for what it is."

Ms Khairiyah agrees. "They sell fantasies. Whenever I'm stressed at work, I want to watch a Bollywood movie."

Mr Faizal, who is in charge of the accounts, sees himself as the pragmatic voice of reason in the trio, holding the other two back when they suggest pin designs that may be obscure.

"These two know things that most normal Bollywood film watchers would never know. What they might think is cool is really only cool in a world where only the two of them exist and it's just trees and music and they're dancing around," he quips.

"I have to tell them, 'Nobody would buy that pin because nobody would know the reference.'"

While Ms Khairiyah jokes that "we pray the fans will find us", Mr Hafidz holds out hope that his favourite actors will come to know about The Pinwallas.

"It would be a dream come true to have the Bollywood stars whose images are moulded on our pins give us some form of recognition," he says.

• To buy The Pinwallas' pins, go to www.facebook.com/ThePinwallas

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2017, with the headline 'Bollywood pin-ups'. Print Edition | Subscribe