While we can all agree that 2020 has generally been the worst year ever, the forced slowing down of the world has also given many the time to explore and learn new skills.

In fact, some have even managed to turn their new-found interests and talents into a money-making machine.

One such talent is Nik Alya Syakirah Nik Ahmad Faris.

How it all got started

Nik making one of her quilling paper
Some time around Hari Raya Aidilfitry and after her final year exams, the 23-year-old pharmacy student decided to get an Instagram account out of boredom.

That simple act led her to a new passion that eventually became profitable.

"It (the hobby) actually started because of MCO. Before that, I tak pernah tahu pun about paper quilling," Alya told Rojak Daily.

She shared that when she decided to get an Instagram account, she didn't know which accounts to follow, so she started looking at art-related pages.

"I realised that many of the people who do this craft are from overseas. Not many from Malaysia. Maybe there were two or three, but mostly from overseas," said the girl from Jitra, Kedah.

One of Alya's creations
Alya then decided to try her hand at the craft. She bought her supplies online and immediately got to work.

Her first piece, which was made on an A6 paper, took her about four to five hours to finish.

Now, with more hours and practice under her belt, she told us that she can complete about two projects in a day.

New-found hobby to business

Alya said that she gave her first piece of art to her sister, which she then shared with friends.

"They started giving me orders. Then my friend shared my work on Twitter and I started getting even more orders from people on social media," Alya laughed, adding that she's been pretty busy trying to fulfill the orders she's been getting.

Most of the orders Alya receives are for custom designs, but there are many who love a few of her template ones too.

"A lot of people like to get their names with floral patterns in the background," she said.

Personally, Alya told us she loves making paper quilling of anime and cartoon characters as they are cute, colourful and easy to make.

She hasn't mastered the art of adding details such as eyes, nose and mouth (we're not sure if that's even possible) to these characters yet, but to be honest, they are impressive nevertheless.

Interestingly, although Alya has always been a fan of the art - she loves visiting art galleries, by the way - she was never very artistic herself.

"I've never really had much talent when it comes to art and craft. I loved going to art galleries and really try to understand the meaning behind the work, but this is the first time I managed to find something that I could do," she confessed.

So cute!
Alya's craftwork are priced between RM50 and RM180, depending on the size and difficulty of the design. The price does not include frames and other enhancements.

You can check out her work and order one for yourself via her Instagram.

Keep up the good work, Alya. We absolutely love your art and we hope that one day, you'll get them displayed at an art gallery.