3 Fashion #BossGirls on their Raya collections, their plans for the festivities, and being a working mum in the current pandemic

3 Fashion #BossGirls on their Raya collections, their plans for the festivities, and being a working mum in the current pandemic

Like a champ

Text: Joan Kong

What do these ladies have in common? Besides being a mum, they’re also the founders of these homegrown fashion labels

Navigating a pandemic while juggling a career and motherhood is no easy feat, and we salute the mums who have been soldiering on and mothering like a champ. On top of their jobs, their new reality includes having to sit through their children’s online classes, preparing meals for the family, keeping the younger ones happy and occupied, and more. With Raya just around the corner, we got in touch with the founders of homegrown fashion labels—Mimpikita, Hanya, and Nuria—who give us more insight into their latest collections, their plans for the festivities, and how motherhood has changed for them during the lockdown period.

Nurul Zulkifli, co-founder of Mimpikita 

How have you been during this lockdown period?

Although it was expected, when the government announced the lockdown I was a little shocked and scared, not knowing what to expect. It got better week after week as I adapted to it. I enjoyed working, cooking, and looking after the kids at home—it’s hectic but fun!

What are your thoughts on the CMCO?

I am 100% for this. Since the virus is still out there and there’s no vaccine yet, this is the best thing that the government can do. Loosen up the MCO to let our economy recover, but at the same time, control people’s movements. The only thing I’m worried about is that some people may not adhere to the rules, but I guess that’s beyond my control. As long as my family and I, and the people around me play their part, then that’s good enough.

Tell us more about your Raya collection this year.

Just like the past years, we have three different categories—the bespoke pieces, the diffusion line (MKita), and of course, Mimpikita RTW. Both the bespoke and Mimpikita RTW line feature Peranakan-inspired prints.

What’s the inspiration behind the RTW collection?

The Peranakan influences in the RTW collection are actually a continuation of our 2016 collection. It’s about a story of a girl who got married to a Peranakan boy, and this year marks her fourth year. She blossomed into a woman who positively adapts to a new environment with grace and kindness—just like flowers. We fused the traditional elements into our prints, and we gave the Kebaya cut a modern update.

Who’s the Mimpikita woman?

Mimpikita is about three sisters—Nurul, Mira, and Syera—who have different styles and personalities, so we always have that as our foundation. One who’s confident and strong on the outside but a total softie on the inside; one who’s always fun and happy-go-lucky; and one who’s an introvert—soft-spoken and motherly. So the Mimpikita woman essentially represents these women, who balances a lot of different aspects in her life, but at the same time, have a lot of self-love and will make time for herself.

What do you usually do during Raya, and what are your plans at the moment?

I usually spend a lot of time with my family or my in-laws, eating and resting, and this year we’ll still be doing the same.

How is motherhood like in this current pandemic? Has anything changed?

I’m still very busy at work, but the best part is I get to see my children and my husband a lot more. I now have extra time to cook, bake and play too! It gets tough at times, but if I need to get away from them for a little while, I’ll head out to stock up on groceries.

What's next for the brand?

We had to change our projection for the year because of the pandemic. For now, we're being extra mindful when it comes to the next production and really study the customers’ behavior at the moment. Adapting to the ‘new normal’ is doable but we’re taking it one step at a time. 2020 is all about sustaining our business and focus on what matters.

Mimpikita's Raya 2020 collection is available on its website, or at its Bangsar store.

Veen Dee Tan, co-founder of Hanya

How have you been during this lockdown period?

MCO has been a roller coaster. It started with me feeling relaxed, and then confused, motivated, demotivated, depressed, and happy. It’s good to be able to spend so much time at home—I never had the chance to do that a lot, and it felt really, really nice.

Thoughts on the CMCO?

I guess a lot of people out there are confused with the purpose of MCO. The sole purpose of MCO is to flatten the curve, not to eliminate the virus. It’s almost unrealistic for us to combat and get rid of the virus completely. The CMCO was announced so abruptly—just when everyone finally accepted the fact and have found their routine working from home—but it’s a good move. It’s wise economically, and I personally believe that this is the best solution for now.

You’ve released your Raya collection a couple of weeks ago. Tell us more about it.

As we’re all navigating a new norm, Hanya breathes new light in our Serein Raya 2020 collection. Hanya Serein Raya is about being unclouded, and with purpose, which is what I want the women wearing these pieces to feel. It’s on us now and we all need to breathe and build anew, for the sake of our communities.

Our prices are very affordable—about 20 to 30% lesser than our usual collection—to make sure we are not burdening our customers. We don’t want Raya to be cancelled! It’s still very minimal, but because I have Jaja who joined the team beginning of 2020, she incorporated a few traditional silhouettes into our usual modern cuttings.

What’s the inspiration behind it?

Serein refers to rain falling from a cloudless sky. This sort of rain is said to take on the form of a fine, light drizzle, typically after dusk. The name derives from French serein, which means "serene" or "clear". This feeling of a quiet, hopeful presence symbolises the inspiration behind Hanya Serein Raya 2020 especially in light of everything that has fazed us in the last few months.

The collection is the calm after the storm, the light drizzle, and the moment of peace and clarity before we rebuild anew and reincarnate into the new normal. It’s not about looking back on what was, it’s about looking forward and the rebirth. It’s about collective healing, and Hanya is confident that we will all persevere and come out of this stronger, together.

Who’s the Hanya woman?

Hanya’s tagline is “we are #somegirls, but we stand for all girls.” #somegirls cry, #somegirls whine, #somegirls fight, #somegirls leave their family behind to work tirelessly on the frontline, and to those girls, we want to always remind them that the Hanya community is always right behind them.

What do you usually do during Raya?

I miss Raya open houses so much. My social circle consists of mostly Muslim friends so I usually go over to their houses to eat their mums’ cooking. Daging dendeng, satay, kurma, laksa johor—yums!

What are your Raya plans at the moment?

I want to go home to my daughter!

How is motherhood like in this current pandemic? Has anything changed?

It’s definitely difficult. I had to self-quarantine for 21 days before I could head home to see my daughter. It’s been almost two months of not seeing her—probably the longest ever. I always have 'mum guilt' when I had to leave her for work, and being apart for such a long time definitely weighs more on it.

Are there any additional challenges when it comes to balancing career and motherhood in this current pandemic?

It’s very hard. Even before the pandemic, it was already extremely difficult for me. I'm so grateful that I get to take a break from my daughter from time to time and I totally understand how other mums feel about having to be with their kids 24/7. It can be very exhausting, but I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world.

What's next for the brand?

We were supposed to enter our first KL Fashion Week and launch our first maternity line but everything changed due to the pandemic Looking at how the new normal is, we are looking at a more relaxed silhouette in our next collection, which will launch in a few months!

Hanya's Raya 2020 collection is available on its website, or at Robinson's, Shoppes at Four Seasons Place.

Zaznuriah Zahir, founder of Nuria

How have you been during this lockdown period?

I’ve been doing fairly well but I’m occupied around the clock. I’ve never felt this busy yet so relaxed at the same time. MCO has got me juggling my full-time job which entails from 9 to 6pm daily, my fashion retail business, and all that comes with motherhood.

Thoughts on the CMCO?

Although I appreciate the reason behind the CMCO which is to restore the country’s economy, I still believe that we should remain at home as much as we can and only leave home when it’s absolutely necessary. Until a vaccine is discovered, we have to adapt to this new normal.

You’ve released your Raya collection a couple of weeks ago. What’s the inspiration behind it?

For Nuria’s Raya collection this year, I initially intended to launch three volumes. The first two—Lumière and Kirana—were launched successfully. The Lumière (‘light’ in French) collection was inspired by illuminating night lights in Paris, and it’s consistent with the meaning behind our brand name, Nuria. Based on the primary Parisian chic colour—black and white—this line is a representation of light and darkness.

On the other hand, the Kirana collection is similar to our previous Ayana kurung set which was a hit back in 2019. We gave it a slight twist whereby the collar and cut of the kurung top were modified to cater to women who don the hijab. It essentially emanates versatility alongside adaptability, epitomising classic and modernity without compromising the original design. They’re introduced in bold summer colours, each representing individuality and confidence. We had to put a halt on the third release due to the lockdown, but the plan now is to release it as an ‘after Raya’ collection.

Who’s the Nuria woman?

The Nuria woman is a woman who is classic yet contemporary, and who is elegant in every aspect of life without compromising on style. She is smart yet humble, strong yet soft, demure yet confident. She dresses timelessly with key staples and makes a statement with subtlety.

What do you usually do during Raya?

We usually celebrate at our parents’ place followed by visiting our family members for the next two days. On the first day of Raya we would dine together with dishes that my mum and I would cook the night before–our signature dishes include Rendang Ayam Palembang, Kuah Lodeh with Nasi Impit served with Sambal Sotong and Kuah Kacang Daging.

Come night, we would be having dinner at our eldest aunt’s place where she will serve Spaghetti Bolognese—it’s our family recipe! Coming from a big family (I have easily around 40 first cousins), our Raya celebration can sometimes last a whole month, and filled with different cuisines, from Western to Asian to Malay food.

What are your Raya plans at the moment?

At this moment with the CMCO going on, I only have Raya plans at my parents’. It’s best to stay home as much as we can for now.

How is motherhood like in this current pandemic? Has anything changed?

It’s challenging yet fulfilling. I get to spend more time with my kids, doing everything and nothing at the same time. It can be pretty overwhelming and stressful at times as I try to keep up with their school work and letting them have their playtime while ensuring the house is in spick-and-span condition. Above all, I’m just happy knowing that we’re all blessed, healthy, and safe within the comfort of our own home.

Are there any additional challenges when it comes to balancing career and motherhood in this current pandemic?

With prudent time management, both are manageable. I’m always trying to keep abreast with deadlines, project timelines, but generally, upping the organisational ante truly helps.

Are there any plans for the brand next?

Yes, I’ve got a few plans in tow. One of it is my inaugural resort collection. Follow us on our website or Instagram for more updates!

Nuria's Raya 2020 collection is available on its website.

For more Raya-related stories, click here.