Ranong Peru empowers Sarawakian women through handicraft enterprise Ran & Nong Creations

She has enabled them to become financially self-sufficient and economically viable through her courses and workshops.

Ranong’s entrepreneurial journey started with hand-knitted and hand-crocheted baby wear and accessories (All photos: Ran & Nong Creations)

Meet Ranong Peru, 57, a remarkable woman whose passion for beading was ignited by observing her elders when she was a child in the mountainous village of Ba’kelalan in Sarawak. Inspired by the intricate craftsmanship and rich cultural heritage woven with each bead, she made handicraft her favourite pastime.

She had no intention of turning her hobby into a business but “stumbled” into it when, in 2009, one of her daughters started a blog for her as a payback gesture after graduating from a polytechnic in Singapore. “Being new to blogging, I was so excited to upload the photos of my hand-knitted baby booties, gloves, hats and cardigans, along with some simple bead necklaces and other cute stuff,” she tells Options in a phone call from Kuching.

One day, Ranong received a request from Mexico for an order to produce adult hand-knitted shawls and it sent her into a frenzy. “I had to scramble, first signing up with PayPal to ensure a secure transaction and then, completing the orders in time. From that initial ‘retail success’, there was no turning back,” she gushes.


Hand-embroidered and beaded brooches

With the intention of professionally labelling her products and establishing a distinctive brand identity, she and husband Malik Fadjiar devised the name Ran & Nong Creations, a combination of the second syllables of their youngest daughter’s ethnic Lun Bawang name, Ruran, and her name.

The brand is an overarching embodiment of a vision and legacy that pays tribute to their sense of place. With six of Ranong’s children living overseas, Ruran has been her mum’s model and an inspiration throughout the journey.

And so it began over a decade ago, Ranong’s entrepreneurial journey with hand-knitted and hand-crocheted baby wear and accessories. As her craftsmanship evolved, so did her product offerings. Ran & Nong Creations expanded to include teens’ and adults’ fashion accessories, featuring exquisitely handcrafted 3D-beaded signature necklaces and earrings. The creative tide flowed, birthing hand-embroidered brooches, stuffed bears and crochet amigurumi (the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small, stuffed animals or creatures), among others.

With her travel experiences and love of nature, literature and her children as her inspiration, she comes up with designs that exude a certain charm, captivating a diverse clientele from all walks of life and spanning the globe. They are drawn to her personalised approach, ingenuity and dedication to the craft. The pandemic presented both challenges and opportunities, inspiring Ranong to make handmade, washable and reusable fabric face masks and motivating her to embrace online practices and platforms to reach her customers effectively.


Flame of the Forest necklace

The bestsellers include the amigurumi collection, apart from the intricately designed 3D necklaces that are embellished with a combination of Japanese toho seed beads, ethnic Sarawakian beads and a sprinkling of Swarovski crystals. “They are all made with a one-of-a-kind product design in mind. Occasionally, I would spring up from my nap, go to my study table and simply sketch out designs that crop up in my mind,” she says.

Then, she would work on the patterns for her line of accessories. The process may take a couple of hours to a couple of days before she decides on the final product that the improved design fits into.

Ranong does not always work alone. Since 2017, for instance, she has enjoyed a collaboration with The Datai Langkawi, showcasing handcrafted fashion accessories and offering workshops for resort guests. The deep understanding of guests’ preferences and her commitment to personal engagement have cultivated a successful alliance. She also has something brewing with Kapten Batik. Keep your eyes peeled on her brand’s social media handles.

Her aspiration with Ran & Nong Creations extends beyond commerce. As a skilled training provider, she has sought to empower women in Sarawak, enabling them to become financially self-sufficient and economically viable through her handicraft courses and workshops. Her dedication to uplifting the women of her community by honing their skills and sourcing retail opportunities for their finished products have become a cornerstone of her business philosophy.


Ranong: They are all made with a one-of-a-kind product design in mind

“I source retail opportunities for the women whom I have groomed, motivating them with decent incomes they could secure from retail of their quality, finished products. Over the years, I have successfully trained a substantial number of Sarawakian women in knitting, crocheting, beading and crafting fashion accessories such as bead earrings and necklaces.

“Together with my pool of skilled artisans, I envision Ran & Nong Creations’ products and services to be a brand to be reckoned with in the global sustainability market and shine as the pride of Sarawak and Malaysia,” she proclaims.

Ranong cherishes the moments when the women she trains achieve financial independence through retailing their handicraft products. Awards and accolades from government ministries and agencies further validate her dedication. Participating in the Asean Fashion Designers Showcase and successfully designing unique fashion accessories have all been remarkable milestones for Ran & Nong Creations.

The venture has transformed Ranong’s life in profound ways. As an entrepreneur, she navigates diverse challenges with humility and tenacity, continually daring to be different. Through her creative journey, she has discovered the profound influence of passion, empowerment and embracing change.


This article first appeared on Aug 7 , 2023 in The Edge Malaysia.

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