Iziana Shafira Mohd Sallehuddin has a very diverse portfolio. After graduating with a degree in biomedical science, she worked in investment banking and insurance. While still pursuing medical writing, she began a baking business with her sister called BakedKL, which became a full-time endeavour after a few years. When Iziana’s first child was born, she gave up her position in the bakery and tried her hand at becoming a franchisee of Boost Juice — which she managed for three years before selling it last December.
With her wealth of experience and entrepreneurial drive, it was not long before another business idea began brewing in her mind. “I had just given birth and we were going to have the cukur jambul (hair shaving) ceremony for my baby. Nothing from my wardrobe fit me, including all my old baju kurung. So the idea came to me to create something that could be worn throughout the changes experienced by a woman, like when you go through pregnancy, or when you lose weight or gain weight. We are constantly buying clothes whenever we change sizes, right? So I thought, why not create something that can be worn throughout all those changes?”
In January last year, Iziana began her research, sourced fabrics and found a suitable local tailor. She named her venture Bloom Batik, inspired by the famous line from Disney’s Mulan — “the flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all”. She chose batik as her main fabric because she felt connected to the heritage and beauty of the designs.
By early March, Iziana was all set to get production going for her debut Raya collection and had sent fabrics to her tailor, but the first Movement Control Order put paid to her plans.
She was finally able to receive her finished products in early July, a few weeks before Hari Raya Haji. Roping in her sisters and friends, she scrambled to get a photo shoot done. She encountered a steep learning curve when handling social media. “I didn’t know how to use Instagram, like I didn’t even have a personal account. So, a day before I launched, I sat down with my sister, who runs BakedKL, and she taught me how to use Instagram,” she laughs.
To get the word out about her brand, Iziana took the Bloom Batik pieces to a few bazaars. Hand sewn, her first products were made of Indonesian batik.
“My designs are based on what I like to wear. One design is the baju Kedah and the other is like an oversized baju kurung. It is all pareo style, so should you lose or gain weight, you will still be able to fit into them,” she says assuringly.
Traditional, vibrant and stylish, Bloom Batik’s outfits can be mixed and matched with your existing wardrobe, making them quite functional.
Iziana was determined to use local batik fabric too, so after getting in touch with suppliers, she managed to launch another collection that highlights Malaysian batik. Her pieces can be worn at home as well as when out and about as they are comfortable and presentable — the best of both worlds, really. Inspired by her children, she has also come up with a collection of adorable batik dresses.
She now has a website and is refocusing her sales online but attends a bazaar or two to garner more customers. She admits that marketing is not her strong suit. “I don’t spend a lot on marketing, neither am I a social media-savvy person; so right now, I am focusing on what I can do, which is to just market it on Instagram whenever I have the funds to do so.” Thankfully, Bloom Batik’s blend of vibrant colours and comfort make it accessible and popular with customers.
The brand’s latest collection offers Shibori tie-dye kaftans and tunics, which are perfect for our hot weather. Also, like most businesses, it offers a range of fabric face masks but with a special East Coast twist — Terengganu handicraft maker Mok Timoh, whose business was badly impacted by the pandemic, has adapted her skills to craft face masks for Bloom Batik.
This year, Iziana will be releasing a Raya collection of her signature pareo-style pieces with more colourful batik prints. She says some pieces will feature buttons, allowing them to be styled as outerwear.
Most of Bloom Batik’s designs are oversized or adjustable, making them suitable for all sizes. To be more inclusive, Iziana will be introducing a few pieces in different sizes so her customers can find a fit they prefer.
In future, Iziana hopes to turn Bloom Batik into a lifestyle brand, including homeware into her range of products, as well as explore other fabrics and materials, such as songket and mengkuang. “As a person, your interests will evolve over time, so it’s nice to be able to do all that,” she adds.
This article first appeared on Mar 1, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.