Switch Off and Connect

DIY workshops for crafts and beauty products with Amber House

The do-it-yourself (DIY) urge is in full resurgence as people voluntarily limit their (solo!) social media consumption in favour of face-to-face interaction with others and creating communities. More and more people are seeking new experiences instead of obtaining more and more things.

Amber Nguyen established Amber House in October 2019 as a response to a finance and operations career. She felt her life was lacking clarity and purpose. “Sitting in an office all day,” she says, “that’s not really me.”

“My friends were always telling me I’m so creative and full of energy,” she continues, “so I knew I had to do something else.” Talking with friends and family, she (re)discovered her purpose and meaning was handicrafts: making things by hand and taking the time necessary to do so. Being a crafter since she was a kid, Amber House is a handicraft studio and workspace where Amber holds workshops that uphold that DIY ethos.

Her pleasure, she says, comes from hearing the different perspectives each of her clients brings to the studio as they sit around the worktable and crochet or make their own lipsticks.

“You know it’s funny, I don’t even wear makeup, but I just love the pop of color,” she laughs, “and lipstick is also exactly that, a pop of color.” And this is why we’re here together today in her serene and shaded studio: a DIY lipstick workshop to make natural and chemicalfree lip color in my favorite shade.

Across the worktable are digital weigh scales and pots of colored powders. The powders are expertly weighed out by the milligram and mixed. My orange oxide and terra cotta colored powder is cut with a bit of very bright fuchsia after much laughing input from Amber and Vy Lam, the Oi Vietnam staff photographer. Bees wax pastilles, jojoba oil, olive oil and finally, almond oil are weighed on the scale and carefully blended with a whirl of shea butter. This beaker is gently heated. We joke about being a Breaking Bad lab of powders, oils, metal spatulas, digital weigh scales, beakers, scented potions and a portable burner to ‘cook’ our stuff. But actually the room smells like warm chocolate and vanilla because of the melting wax. Vy says it smells like walking into Maison Marou. From a selection of essential oils (such as eucalyptus or rose) I chose chamomile, stirred into my custom color mix.

This joins the melted wax and the entire mix is quickly poured into the lipstick mold and put into a fridge to cool and set. We tease Amber about the beer and wine bottles inside. “My friends always want to come over and hang out and make stuff,” she laughs good-naturedly. “But people are certainly welcome to bring something with them if they’d like to really make it an event, a celebration about spending time together and making things together.” Private groups are welcome at Amber House, as well as individuals booking and taking a small group class with new people. So while her studio is most comfy, Amber says, with around five participants so she can give highly personalized attention to her student, she has externally hosted a number of larger teambuilding groups in co-working spaces around town.

People can book via Vibeji Culture Hub, a platform curating experiences that users shop and browse to inspire themselves or find like-minded community. Amber says this is one of the reasons she’s on the platform. She wants to make it fun for people to meet and learn from each other face-to-face. It’s back to perspective for Amanda and her clients. Amber House is currently open seven days a week with a range of times available for bookings. She offers crocheting lessons, the DIY lipstick workshop and crafting dreamcatchers. Soap making is a likely future offering. “I love working with people to cocreate a more meaningful handson experience.”

Amber sweeps her arm across her studio space. “So many people think they can’t make anything, so I want to show how handicrafts can be taught to anyone,” she says. “It’s about exploring the world through our hands.”

Vibeji is the world’s first marketplace platform for online and offline skillsharing activities that are bite-sized, entertaining and interactive—connecting hosts to seekers of new experiences. To explore the experiences that are available, visit vibeji.com

Images by Vy Lam

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