In between managing families and children, two mothers run their Muslimah fashion label.
RUNNING a household while growing a business is no walk in the park but that’s not stopping two friends and stay-at-home-mums Asti Spivey and Shalina Johan from pursuing their dream.
It all began with an urge to start something new. Driven by their passion for Muslimah fashion, the duo joined forces to start a line called Kana Boutique.
It’s a relatively new brand that currently offers a range of telekung or prayer robe for women and headscarves made in soft pastel colours of various materials.
In an e-mail interview, Asti says fashion, particularly for Muslim women, is something she has always had a passion for and it links deeply with her own culture.
“From there and with the support of family and friends, Kana Boutique was born. We may be relatively new but we are doing quite well in a competitive marketplace,” she says.
While Asti is involved with the creative side of the business, focusing on product design, Shalina is responsible for marketing and pushing the brand on social media.
“We complement each other. We are both driven to succeed in this venture and wholeheartedly believe in delivering the best possible product to customers.”
The local fashion industry is undeniably saturated with Muslimah and modest brands.
These ambitious businesswomen are clearly aware of this but feel that their brand offers something beyond what is available.
“What sets us apart is the quality of the design and fabric, and the nature of our relationship with customers. From the start of our business, we have always looked to cultivate a lasting and trusting relationship with them and I believe this is really key to our future success.
“My family in Jakarta is responsible for a lot of the production and there are also some designs of which are over a decade old. This is key to our brand -- using traditional methods and designs of the past while bringing them up to date with a clean and clear approach, nothing too over-the-top, just simplicity with elegance,” she says.
Kana Boutique plans to supplement its current range with more designs, as well as venturing into men’s and children’s wear. Shalina and Asti also hope to open a store in Bangsar Shopping Centre, Kuala Lumpur.
With plans to expand the business on top of juggling their families, it can get a little overwhelming for the two. However, adopting proper time management helps to ensure operations run smoothly.
“Some days, I feel like I’m juggling more than I can chew! There are parent-teacher meetings, school plays, events, house chores, work meetings and photoshoot for new products. But we manage to get everything done. It gets hectic especially when you’re trying to be there for the family and your work. It’s all about time management and just being present. Most days, we remind each other of our work and family to-do-list.
“After we drop our kids off at school, we meet up at a coffee shop or our homes. It is especially difficult to work after school as those are our busiest hours of the day.
“Our work begins again once the kids are in bed as we have to get back to our customers via e-mail and keep our Instagram (@kana_boutique_my) updated with the latest products and promotion,” Asti says.