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News

Gillian's Farewell

Hi there. If you’ve seen our website, visited our boutique, or perhaps met us at a pop-up bazaar in the past year, you may know me. My name is Gillian. I graduated last June from Union College in New York with a Minerva Fellowship meant to instill an entrepreneurial approach to solving social issues in developing nations, and moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to volunteer for Batik Boutique. In my time here, I have gotten to experience a little bit of everything, and I’ve been witness to the growth of Batik Boutique.

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New Sewing Centre Launch

Batik Boutique proudly launched our new sewing training centre in Kota Damansara, which will help provide training to more seamstresses with sewing and other marketable skills. The official launch was attended by industry partners, NGOs, our seamstresses, and friends, and the launch was officiated by the Kota Damansara children's drum group.

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Empowering women entrepreneurship

Zarina Zainal Abidin is the Malaysian artisan behind Zarina Craft, an online business where she shares all her crafting. Zarina worked at The Batik Boutique and is a good friend of ours. In 2011 she lost her full-time job and was forced to look for other sources of income. Since she was able to sew, she thought to work part-time for TBB while looking for ways to expand her then side business, Zarina Craft.

Since I lost my job, I had to find something to earn an income. Getting a full time job now is difficult due to the world’s economic issues. The Batik Boutique helped me regain my confidence to push for my handmade products. In addition, TBB has been very generous in sharing their experience and expertise with me. With this help, I had a stronger platform to make my online business more successful – Zarina remembers.

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Zarina was the one who came up with our table runner and coasters set designs, which became one of TBB bestsellers. She also designed prototypes for our notebook covers and bookmarks.

Partly raised in the US until she was 12 years old, she found many common grounds with TBB CEO, Amy Blair. Talking to an American was second nature to her and the two ladies built a good rapport. The empowerment Zarina experienced through working at TBB pushed her to pursue her dream of running her own online business on a full-time basis.

Zarina’s dedication for sewing came from a very early age. Her mum was passionate about crafts and took many crafting classes. In the beginning, her mum would not allow her to go anywhere near a sewing machine, but later when she was 12 she managed to make two blouses for herself using purchased paper patterns.

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From all the techniques she was exposed to, she was drawn to quilting the most; she loves sewing anything with straight edges! She developed her quilting skills to the point she decided to write a book. Zarina’s book is entirely written in Bahasa Malaysia, so it’s perfect for starters who don’t speak English well. She feels fortunate that the leading publisher in Malaysia, Karangkraf, liked her idea. Her book, titled Seni Asas Jahitan Quilt, is available in all major bookstores in Kuala Lumpur, and can be purchased directly from her for a signed copy. Additionally, she offers complimentary copies to everyone who takes patchwork lessons from her. Many of the fabrics that Zarina uses in the book are batiks from TBB, so check it out to explore new applications of beautiful Malaysian batik. We couldn’t be more proud of her!

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Zarina never thought she would end up with an online business. She always wanted to be a teacher and she hasn’t given up on that:

I don’t have any background for teaching and getting teaching jobs now is a bit difficult. However, starting this year I will be going back to my beloved career – as a quilting/patchwork instructor. I am able to get places to teach at Bandar Baru Bangi, all the three Spotlight branches, Shah Alam, and Subang – Zarina says.

Her plans for the future? She will continue striving to make Zarina Craft a successful business, focusing on doing workshops and selling quilted products. In addition to that, her publishing house is requesting a follow up of the book. She has some ideas, but what’s for sure is that she will continue using TBB batiks, and we love that!

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