After returning from abroad and settling her son into school, Yulina Baharuddin found herself itching to do something with her time. A sewing class with a friend was all it took for her to find her true vocation. “We spent four to five hours just learning how to make one pouch but it was a good exercise and the very next day, I decided to buy a toy sewing machine,” says Yulina.
Buying beautiful fabric was already an obsession that had left Yulina with bolts of cloth and with the new toy, she began little projects of her own. “It was a win-win situation. I learnt a new skill and got to play with fabric, which I am now able to buy for a purpose.”
When she proudly posted pictures of her completed pieces online, her friends immediately began to place orders. “Within a month, I had covered the cost of the sewing machine,” Yulina says.
Why did she call her business Mimpi Matamoon? Because a stranger had once told her that her eyes were like the moon. Being the moon-eyed dreamer that she is, the name made perfect sense.
Early on, Yulina was approached by Loka, a Malaysian retail store, offering to display and sell her pouches. She has even been approached by hotels. The Mimpi Matamoon studio in Taman Maluri tastefully displays her latest designs.
One of Yulina’s biggest challenges was learning how to sew professionally. Graduating from her toy sewing machine to an industrial one was definitely not an easy task. “I inadvertently broke many needles and the tensions were all wrong and so was the stitching. I even thought I should get goggles in case part of the needle flew and hit me in the eye,” she laughs. After a couple of months, Yulina got the hang of it and was able to sew perfect pieces. Now, she has a team of four to help her in the business.
“Going into a fabric shop is like going into a candy store,” Yulina admits. During her travels, she searches for all kinds of fabrics but only purchases one metre of each “because there are millions of fabrics out there that are all so beautiful. I could buy 10m of the same material, but where’s the uniqueness, where’s the specialness?”
She aims to celebrate diversity by using materials that represent all races of Malaysia. Mimpi Matamoon’s pouches are made of various materials — from batik and songket to saree cloth and Chinese brocade — that come in vibrant colours and patterns.
Since 2015, Yulina’s pouches come in various sizes. She is especially fond of her standing pouches, some of which require 10 layers of lining and interface to retain their shape. Although she has received many requests to add a wristlet or sling to her portfolio, Yulina is adamant that she will stick with pouches. “It’s a work of passion, so we have made it in such a way that when you hold it, you hug it and treat it with love. We don’t want it swinging off your arm like an afterthought.”
Yulina also makes pouches with tie-dyed fabrics created by children from the National Autism Society Malaysia in Kuantan. “This is to create demand for what the children make. They make such beautiful designs,” she adds.
Yulina has bought some wallpaper to experiment with. “I want to improve the design. I could embellish the pouches in the future, but right now, it’s all about the fabric and the story behind the fabric,” she explains.
Her love of fabrics and interest in pouches has kept Mimpi Matamoon going. “You have to have passion. If you think you’re going to fail but it’s really your passion, then you will hang on. If you believe in your product enough, if you love your product, then it will work.”
This article first appeared on Mar 19, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia.