● Ranong Peru
- An ethnic Lun Bawang, Nur Rahmah Ranong Abdullah grew up in a close-knit community in the mountainous village of Ba’Kalalan in Sarawak. A small tribal community by most standards, it was one that fostered a strong sense of family bonding and, as it happens, artistic flair.
- Known to her friends and family simply as Ranong Peru, the industrious artisan grew up watching her mother beading her ethnic headgear and traditional costumes at the end of a long day working in the paddy field.
- “I came from a rural community and grew up with a family background of hard toil,” shares Ranong.
- “I never knew then that I had the capacity for handicrafts in my motor skills, but it became a more dominant trait after I left my career in the hospitality industry.”
- While accompanying her husband on an overseas posting to Jakarta, Ranong earned her certification in Spa Management from Mustika Ratu Indonesia.
- It was later, during similar travels to Cape Town in South Africa, that she would truly discover the uplifting potential of arts and crafts.
- “In Cape Town, I networked and developed a very close relationship with the motherly ‘Big Black Mamas’ – as they’re fondly called for their cheerfulness and hospitality – and we’d gather together to knit.
- “The cost of knitting yarns was relatively cheaper there and the choices of types and colours were in abundance! I realised that being in a conducive environment like this and surrounded by friendly people helped me to express my creativity.”
One after another came hand-knitted bedspreads, cushion covers, table placemats and crocheted baby apparel from this fortuitous stay in Cape Town.
- Upon her return to Sarawak in late 2009, Ranong’s third daughter gifted her mother with the creation of a simple blog. It wasn’t long before Ranong began uploading photos of her kitschy creations online – a compilation of baby and toddlers’ clothes, mittens and other adorable crocheted items.
- “My passion then grew into a commercial commitment when I received my very first online order from Mexico for an adult knitted shawl through this same blog!” says Ranong.
- With the conception of her proprietorship, Nadinmas Enterprise in 2010 came the start of Ran & Nong Creations, a brand that would first focus on equipping more artisans from her homeland in Sarawak and second, showcase Ranong’s artistic wares to the world.
- “I’m aware that womenfolk need to be self-reliant, economically independent and financially stable to face the challenges of today’s social environment, be they from the rural or urban communities,” she says.
- “That’s why my focus is very much towards empowering women – particularly single mothers and underprivileged women – nevertheless, there are already intakes of male artisans and craftsmen participating in my Skills Training Courses!”
- Ranong is an esteem member and fashion ambassador of the ASEAN Fashion Designer Showcase representing Malaysia.
● Fion Poon
- Inspired by her mentor Dato’ Professor Jimmy Choo, Fion Poon is making great efforts promoting a heritage into the fashion scene. She studied under Choo for eight years and has now started two lines of shoes and handbags made from batik and songket, traditional art and wear in Malaysia.
- Fion’s aim has been specially to make Malaysians proud, and in the process, she has made the international community raise their eyebrows at the potential of such Malaysian designers.
- “To continue learning and to remain inspired are the most important aspects of a designer’s life. The journey has been challenging but it is satisfying. 26 years as a designer, has taught me a great deal and continue to teach me as I go about my passion.”
- Unique in her signature style, she aspires to make Malaysia proud.
- Fion is an esteem member and fashion ambassador of the ASEAN Fashion Designer Showcase representing Malaysia.
● WAN BAINUN
- Up-and-coming young Sarawakian fashion designer Wan Bainun Wan Zaizodin, is driven by her passion for fashion as well as a strong desire to contribute to the local weaving industry, using Sarawak ethnic designs.
- Barely five years since she graduated with a degree in fashion design from Universiti Teknologi Mara, she has already made a mark in the fashion business in her home state of Sarawak and has started her own business and fashion line with a boutique, Wan Bynun, in the city.
- But it has not been a smooth ride for Wan Bainun. Without any capital to start her business in the early years when she returned to her home state after completing her studies, she had to contend with working as a customer service officer in a telecommunications company.
- Determined to start her own fashion business and open a boutique, each month, she would stash away a large part of her salary as capital for her business. She also sold some of her clothes to local boutiques and vendors in shopping centres to earn money to start her business.
- In 2016, armed with a small capital of only RM6,000 and the support and prayers of her parents, Wan Bainun achieved her dream and opened her boutique in the middle of Kuching city, China Street.
- At the same time, she knew she had to keep her ears and eyes open to the dynamic fashion industry and so she began joining any and every fashion competition held locally and overseas.
- These included the Sarawak Fashion Award 2016, Sarawak Fashion Fiesta 2016, Borneo Fashion Week 2017 and the Borneo International Beads Conference Fashion Show 2017.
- Slowly but surely, she began to build a reputation for herself, especially after winning second prize in the Sarawak Fashion Award competition in 2017.
Last year, Wan Bainun was chosen to represent Sarawak in the Indonesia Modest Fashion Week 2018 in Jakarta in the young designers’ category.
- Wan Bainun stands tall today knowing that she has carved her own territory in the fashion industry where one risky move can make or break a designer.
- Wan Bainun is an esteem member and fashion ambassador of the ASEAN Fashion Designer Showcase representing Malaysia.