Jacqueline Chan finds inspiration everywhere, from the curiosities of the natural world to delectable French patisserie and everything in between. Wooden rings with painted diamonds, colourful leather concoctions of necklaces with names like “Sweet Success” and “Intense Euphoria”, illustrations of dogs and sharks and pouches with handprinted abstract patterns all find their way into her repertoire. She never stays focused on one medium (“my heart is pulled into many different directions and I love working with different materials”); so it’s really no surprise that she calls her business Whimsy Milieu.
Working out of her home studio in Orange, NSW, Jacqueline has made it her mission to spread happiness to the world; and what she makes is designed to do just that. Her aim is for you to “surround yourself with whimsical things that make you happy.” Producing work that achieves this goal makes her happy too.
“I love it that this job of spreading happiness doesn’t feel like work at all, as I wake up every day to do what I love and fall asleep at night thinking about more ideas for my business.”
Materials and process are a joy for her, even more than the designing. “What I love most about making is the process. Although I always feel intimidated before I start, when I actually do start, it is just exhilarating. It’s also enlightening when I make mistakes but work out how to overcome them.”
For someone who is as consistently inventive across wildly differing mediums as Jacqueline, it is surprising to realise that her life has gone in a big circular loop. She grew up in a very creative household in her home country of Malaysia, always drawing and crafting. “I remember making cards with my mother to sell at the school fair, and also representing my school in many art competitions.”
But life shifted, and “somehow, I ended up studying engineering at university and eventually became an engineer.”
However, you can’t suppress your true self forever. “The urge to lead a creative life started bugging me incessantly and I went back to university and obtained a degree in design. It has certainly enabled me to look at the world with new eyes.” During their studies, her and her friends started making things to sell, and it was this small taster that fuelled Jacqueline’s dreams to start her own business. Whimsy Milieu became a reality in 2012.
“I have learnt a lot through this journey – not only in terms of creativity and business, but also about life and relationships. It is such a blessing that doing something I love also enables me to live a more meaningful life and to spend more time with my loved ones, wherever they may be in the world.
“However, one of the most important things that I learnt is not to compare myself with other designers/artisans – we are all different and we satisfy different needs of all our lovely customers. I am very happy to create things that make people happy, and I also hope to prompt awareness of living a more creative and meaningful life.”