Interview: Keepsake with Ryo

As newborns grow up so quickly, it is natural to want a souvenir to preserve a memory of our baby’s infancy. There are quite a number of items in the market targeted at new parents for this purpose such as umbilical cord stamps (eew…), calligraphy brushes made with hair, 3D hand and feet casts or laser plaques. 
I’m not enthralled by the idea of having a 3D cast of Elise’s hands and feet or a calligraphy brush made with hair from her first haircut as they take up space and will pretty much sit in a box away from daylight, unless I suddenly happen to develop an interest in Chinese Calligraphy. 
These jewellery, on the other hand, capture a memory and can be worn daily. I really like practical and simple items. More importantly, it’ll serve as a precious memento of my breastfeeding journey with Elise.

Even before Elise was born, I was convinced of the benefits of breastfeeding and aimed for her to be exclusively breastfed for at least six months. Now that she’s here, I’m proud to say that she hasn’t yet had a bottle of infant formula. I certainly do not think formula is poison, but breastfed babies have higher levels of immunity, which she will need when she attends infant care. Also because infant formula is expensive and mommy is a cheapo. Besides, it’s better quality of milk for zero cost!
I especially love night feeds (12mn, 3+am) where I feed her in a side-lying position. Though it disrupts my sleep, I love it when she suckles and falls into a milk coma. Not so much when she spits up milk on the bed. Occasionally, she flashes a huge, satisfied smile. 

Which is why I would actually like having a pendant or bead made up of breast milk to wear. I prefer minimalist designs, so when I discovered Ryo’s page – Keepsake with Ryo, I knew I wanted her to create my jewellery.

Her jewellery is definitely something I’d wear. I came across other breast milk jewellery makers, but some of their designs were too garish for my liking. After chatting with her, I found out that she is so talented, she even made the news. 

Interview: Ryo of Keepsake with Ryo

1) Hi! Please tell us more about yourself. 
Hello, my name is Ryo and creating has always been a big part of my life. 
In my childhood, my dolls only wore clothes I made, I only used pencil cases I had sewn myself and my friends only received handmade gifts. I then figured out how to sew my own cheongsams, made prom dresses for all my best friends, got featured in a special segment of The Straits Times, and won the Best Float Design as Creative Director in NUS. I always believe in action more than words, and now that I have a baby boy, I hope to be able to impart the same values of perseverance, curiosity and respect that I uphold.

2) What inspired you to create Keepsake by Ryo?

I initially wanted to have a keepsake made by someone else, but after scouring the net, I couldn’t find anyone making something that I liked. So there and then, I strapped my baby to my chest and made a trip down to the craft store. After one hour, I more or less figured the stuff I need to make my own breast milk jewellery. I then offered to make jewellery for free for some mummy friends, since I was still in the experimenting stage, and the response was so phenomenal I decided to make it a business!

3) What is the most challenging part of creating keepsake jewelry?
Nothing is too difficult. I pursued Art as a subject in my JC days, so I have a rather good idea of what works and what doesn’t. I just design a collection in my head and get my hands dirty immediately. If it works, it goes up on the web. If it doesn’t, at least I learnt something!
Oh for number 1 I forgot to mention that I actually teach JC Economics as my full time job hahaha.

4) Any advice for aspiring moms who intend to start a small business?
My mantra is “Start small and start now”. Did you feel ready to be a mum when you had your first child? Starting your own business is like raising a child. Just do it! We spend too much time waiting to be ready, thinking about what we should do with our time and our lives. 
If you really think about it, starting a business today is easy. WordPress is free, and all of us have a bank account. That’s all you need. If your product and/or service is good, you don’t have to worry. Over time, your products and your customers will do the job and your business will grow. Most importantly, do what you love – you don’t want to suffer everyday doing something you don’t like!

Each piece of breast milk jewellery takes between 1 to 3 weeks to process and requires about 20ml of breast milk which can be sent to her via courier service.