Malaysians unwilling to buy local labels, hijab seller says

TudungPeople was established in 2012 and is one of Malaysia’s top online hijab stores today. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
TudungPeople was established in 2012 and is one of Malaysia’s top online hijab stores today. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 — Despite the success of TudungPeople, co-founder Fazrena Aziz said Malaysians were still reluctant to purchase home-grown labels for the hijab.

“The biggest challenge for us is that not all Malaysians would pay for Malaysian brands.

“It’s quite sad when people have the perception that Malaysian brands are supposed to be cheap and imported brands are meant to be expensive,” she told Malay Mail.

Fazrena desperately wants to change that and believes Malaysian products are worth purchasing, starting with her own brand of Muslim headscarves.

She recalls sitting in her living room packing parcel after parcel of shawls, long before there was a boom in fashionable headscarves.

Back in 2010, scarves for Muslim women were often too small and if one wanted more coverage, they had to wear a pashmina, the popular Kashmiri wool scarf.

Noticing a gap in the market for headscarves with sizes, the then-architecture student started selling hijabs during one semester break.

“My friends and I started selling longer and wider scarves and they were really well-received,” Fazrena told Malay Mail.

Fazrena started TudungPeople with only RM2,000. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Fazrena started TudungPeople with only RM2,000. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

In 2012, she launched TudungPeople with RM2,000 from her brother and has never looked back since. It was one of the first brands to offer headscarves in various sizes.

She knew her business idea had potential when demand poured in after her designs went viral on Facebook, the first platform Fazrena sold her scarves on.

TudungPeople became a game changer, proving that small, casual home-based tudung businesses can evolve into a serious full-time venture.

“Plenty of hijab brands out there but no one took proper pictures; they were always taken in their homes or bedrooms.

“Our first campaign was shot in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore,” she said.

Today, her brand is one of Malaysia’s top online hijab stores, known for beautiful hand-drawn prints and high-quality materials chosen for Malaysia’s tropical climate.

Customers often look forward to TudungPeople’s limited edition shawls, which are known to sell out within an hour.

The brand’s Eid collection is priced between RM109 and RM259, while basic shawls starts at a wallet-friendly RM48.

Women who want to incorporate a touch of luxe will appreciate TudungPeople’s premium range — designs featuring Swarovski crystals start from RM109.

Outside Malaysia, TudungPeople has distributors in the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Brunei.

Fazrena’s customers come from all walks of life, mainly urbanites in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, best exemplified by TudungPeople’s latest Eid campaign.

The #MyHijabMyStory aims to shed stereotypes that hijabis are oppressed, limited, backwards and uneducated, by featuring six inspiring icons from activists and doctors to single mothers and South Korean Muslim celebrity Ayana Moon.

Although Fazrena said her business is growing from strength to strength, she prefers to keep operations small and prioritises hiring women.

Her team of 20 only has one male staff, who is the web designer.

“My staff bring in their kids every day and I hear a lot of stories where it’s hard for women to find a job if they get pregnant and when they have kids.

“That’s why I always prefer to employ women first,” she said.

TudungPeople’s Eid 2018 collection is available at tudungpeople.com.

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