Diantha Ngo is continuing a revived-trend piece with her handmade scrunchies.
The second-year bioengineering student founded her own startup brand, selling her creations to those buying into the ’80s trend. While many of her efforts have been focused on selling her products over the summer, she said she has plans to continue marketing her hair accessories into the upcoming school year. Ngo said her passion for sewing drove her to begin making and selling her own scrunchies and pushes her to market to her new student audience.
“I wanted to do some sort of project with it, but something that wouldn’t require too much planning out or too many resources because I didn’t really have that much,” Ngo said. “And I thought of scrunchies because they’re simple and easy and don’t require a lot of fabric.”
Ngo said she found herself with a lot of time to perfect her styles and colors while working on her scrunchies this summer. From picking out polka-dot fabric to stitching her bow-shaped scrunchie designs and delivering her orders, Ngo said she enjoys having full control of her brand. Doing the work by herself allows her to create a personal connection with her customers, Ngo said, through which she can collaborate with them on style and color.
One of Ngo’s first customers, Kim Nguyen said her job as a hairdresser helped spread the word about Ngo’s work. Nguyen said she would often get compliments from clients on the scrunchies she had bought from Ngo and would frequently wear in her hair. Customers enjoyed the fun patterns they could choose from for the hair accessories, Nguyen said, such as ones in flower, rainbow or cheetah prints. Ngo’s attention to detail when designing the scrunchies translates to their high-quality feel, Nguyen said.
“The handmade ones are very unique because (Ngo) goes in with the intention to make them perfect, like all the stitches and everything, and the designs she combines (with) the color and the material and everything,” Nguyen said. “But her work, it’s fairly delicate, you can tell it’s well made.”
Nguyen said Ngo even suggests scrunchies that match specific outfits she has in mind, making the experience much more personal and catered to her distinct product needs. Face-to-face interaction with the creator of the scrunchies separates the experience of buying Ngo’s handmade scrunchies from buying them from a chain store where the products are mass produced, Nguyen said.
With the prevalence of scrunchies in bigger storefronts, accessibility is also something Ngo said is a priority for her new brand. By making each of the scrunchies herself, she said she ensures each one is made to her standards, unlike mass-produced ones. Keeping an affordable price point in mind is also important for selling to her student consumers, she said.
“I wanted to make a product that was reasonably priced and high quality – simple as that,” Ngo said. “A lot of retail stores these days that are selling the same thing don’t really have as many of those qualities.”
Each of Ngo’s scrunchies is distinguishable based on its design and the material it is made of, said Vanessa Acusa, a nursing student at California Baptist University. She said she enjoys buying the handmade scrunchies because they can be made of unorthodox materials like those usually found in blankets or curtains.
The bow-shaped design also makes them recognizable, as opposed to ones Acusa said she sees being sold in stores. The option of having a trendy piece that is different from everyone else’s makes Ngo’s budding brand more appealing, Acusa said.
“Everyone could have the same scrunchie as you, … but I don’t usually see people going around with a bumblebee scrunchie, for example, or a scrunchie with a bow tie,” Acusa said. “And if I were to see like a scrunchie that had like a bow tie or something or like a different pattern, I’d be like, ‘Oh, that’s (Ngo’s) scrunchie!’”
While Ngo may try to cater each of her scrunchies to her specific consumers, she said she feels no need to establish a specific aesthetic for her brand. In the future, she plans on continuing to create her accessories and even extend into other products if her audience demands it. But for the time being, Ngo said she is content making items in a way that is open to whoever is willing to buy them, and not pigeonholing herself into an audience that is too specific.
“I want it to be able to appeal to everyone, no matter who you are, what you’re interested in or how old or how young you are. It’s just something that I want to make for everybody,” Ngo said. “So I don’t try to push it in like a certain direction or box that might not appeal to other people as much.”