Sisters Jayme and Jessie Teoh are helping the humble scrunchie make a comeback in style
THE ‘90s inspired hair accessory is making a comeback! Cloth-made scrunchies were a big trend some thirty years ago, but eventually lost their shine and were even regarded as outdated, especially during the millennial years.
Back in 2003, on the fashion forward TV series Sex and the City, character Carrie Bradshaw (played by actress Sarah Jessica Parker) made a remark about women wearing out-of-fashion scrunchies in New York City in one of the episodes.
Fast forward to 2021, and sisters Jayme Teoh, 23, and Jessie Teoh, 28, owners of The Scrunch Bar MY (@thescrunchbar.my on Instagram), would beg to differ as they believe the accessory is still very much a fashionable item, and a perfect hair accessory for all occasions.
Jayme feels that everything vintage or retro has been making a comeback lately, so why shouldn’t the much-loved scrunchies?
After graduating from New York University in 2020, Jayme noticed scrunchies gaining in popularity among women in the city. In fact, US First Lady Jill Biden’s light pink scrunchies, which she wore in February this year, became a piece of national news.
“I feel like I see more people reverting back to ‘90s fashion and this is pretty clear on social media. It was most obvious while I was studying in New York, where a lot of my friends started wearing scrunchies again,” said Jayme, who is pursuing a joint Masters in International Affairs at Peking University and the London School of Economics online.
The sisters started The Scrunch Bar MY during the MCO in June 2021 as a fun part-time project to revive the trend with colourful batik materials, creating custom-made and ready-to-wear collections.
At the time the sisters were looking to try something new, especially Jessie, who is also the founder and principal instructor at Pure Pilates KL.
“I was on my gap year and my sister had to shut her studio during the lockdown, so we decided to start a small side business. Since I had taken sewing lessons in 2020 and purchased a sewing machine, we thought we could make something simple like the scrunchies,” said Jayme.
The brand sells scrunchies for RM6 per piece and RM15 for a set of three, and delivers the products with sustainable packaging. Its inventory expanded to include headbands, which were launched in November.
We recently caught up with Jayme and Jessie to talk about their favourite accessory.
Why do you think people should go back to wearing scrunchies?
Jayme: “Scrunchies have many great benefits for your hair – it lessens breakage and kinks in your hair. It also doubles up as a cute wristband and I just think it can add to your overall look!”
As the co-founders of The Scrunch Bar MY, do you face any difficulties in convincing others to wear scrunchies?
Jessie: “I think a lot of people still use normal elastic bands every day. They’re reliable and unlike scrunchies, you don’t have to wash them regularly because there isn’t any fabric wrapped around them. However, I do think more people are switching to scrunchies because they look really cute!”
Do you feel the style will last longer this time around?
Jessie: “Yes. I think the style will last a long time. It’s been around for ages and don’t see people outgrowing them anytime soon!”
What inspired you both to make scrunchies with batik materials?
Jayme: “Our grandmother passed away in June 2021, while we were planning for The Scrunch Bar MY. Our fondest memory of her is the large collection of batik sarongs that she always wore around the house. Most of her sarongs are from Indonesia, where she grew up.
“When she passed away, we got to keep her sarongs and we knew how special these were to my grandma. Hence, we decided to dedicate the first set of batik designs to her as a sort of homage to her.”
What kind of materials or fabric do you use?
Jessie: “Most of our fabrics are cotton or polyester. So far, we have put up a batik line and a summer scrunchie series. We have actually started making headbands and they are all vastly different – just designs we thought looked great.”
How long do you take to make one? Is it handmade?
Jayme: “Yes, everything is handmade with our sturdy little sewing machine that Jess bought earlier [last] year! It takes about 10-15 minutes to make a scrunchie, and far longer to make a headband. Jessie and I are still amateur sewers, but we are getting better with each scrunchie or headband we sew.”
What sets apart your scrunchies from others?
Jessie: “All our designs are seasonal, so you will constantly be getting new scrunchie styles. Jayme and I have also poured a lot of love and effort into each scrunchie as they are all hand sewn. We are also dedicated to using sustainable materials for our scrunchies and their packaging.”
What is your signature style scrunchie?
Jayme: “We don’t really have any signature ones as all our designs are seasonal! We look at fabric patterns online and pick whichever ones we like. Our batik scrunchies did particularly well and sold out relatively quickly, so we will definitely be looking at doing more batik scrunchies in the future.”
How do you operate the online business, as sisters?
Jayme: “Right now, we are only on Instagram. I am currently doing online school and have several other ongoing projects on the side, and Jess is a full-time Pilates instructor at her studio, so the Scrunch Bar is more of a small side business. We do as much as we can as and when we have time, but we decided not to put our products on larger platforms or on a website. This way, we can ensure all our products made are of the highest quality rather than rushing to put out large volumes of them.”
What kind of hurdles or challenges do you face in selling or marketing the scrunchies?
Jayme: “I think there are a lot of people out there with such unique ideas that have set up their own small businesses online. It’s sometimes difficult to set your products apart, so that’s been a little challenging. However, we are so grateful to all our friends and family who have wholeheartedly supported us in this scrunchie journey!”
You also donate a percentage from the sale of your scrunchies to HungerHurts Malaysia and Mercy Malaysia?
Jessie: “Yes! The whole reason why we wanted to start The Scrunch Bar MY was to donate a significant amount of the profits to charity. We thought of the Scrunch Bar amidst MCO3, and we knew how difficult it has been for so many Malaysians. The Bendera Putih movement was especially devastating, and Jayme and I wanted to do something small to give back to our community.”