You've probably heard of batik before but Oh Dayang takes it one step further with its handcrafted batik accessories that look just as great sitting on your vanity. Below, we speak to eponymous founder, Mrs Dayang Nur Syafiqah about their local artisanal jewellery pieces and more.
What is your brand's creative direction and artistic approach? Why have you decided to go down this route?
Batik has always been a significant cultural heritage in Malaysia. We aim to continue incorporating them into contemporary everyday style. Jewellery and accessories seem small but they play such a big part in flourishing a statement into your look!
Our creative direction is heavily influenced by the aesthetics of each batik piece that we find. Batik is so diverse, but it's not a "one size fits all". So instead of limiting what statement piece that we want to have in our selections, we let the batik guide us on what design should come out of this art piece.
Please share what has been the brand's most admirable achievement thus far!
I don't think Oh Dayang has had any "admirable" achievement, but I would celebrate tiny wins like getting to introduce Malaysian batik to overseas audience, also preserving tradition in a contemporary way. We've shipped to New York, LA, Hong Kong, and Australia. We've had customers from Canada, UK, Germany supporting us. We're very proud that they choose Oh Dayang as a piece of memory in Malaysia to bring home to their country.
What are some hardships that the brand has gone through and how did you overcome them?
Each product is fully handmade, we struggled with being consistent or producing "perfect quality". Especially when trying to replicate your first product that you've promoted on your catalog. I remembered my Batik lecturer (Fatimah Chik) told me once, "the best part about batik is that, not one will ever be the same as the other, because each piece is handmade, there will always be slight differences, even if it's just a tiny unintentional drop of wax; that's what makes it special."
I believe that consistency in hand crafted items, lies in the amount of love you put into each work.
How are your products sourced and made?
Most of the time still experimenting on different materials and assessing qualities with our supplies. We are not really contracted to any suppliers, we source the accessory and crafting materials from overseas.
Can you describe your brand's creative approach in making your products? Has it evolved much over time?
Coming from a Fashion and Textile Design major, I was introduced to Batik art right after high school. Since then, I knew that was always something that I wanted to venture into. So every thing I created I try to incorporate batik, it started with a straw pouch and have now evolved to jewellery just from remnants of the pouch.
I believe Oh Dayang brings Malaysia textile art to a whole new level in making a statement. We'd like to call it "Wearable art, uniquely yours."
In one of the markets we joined, fate has brought me to Dayana Reza, founder of Nyonya Kain. She was so generous to offer me her batik fabrics and remnants for me to explore my creations. I had wider option of fabrics to play with and the demand for batik earrings started building up. I was surprised with every sale and all the positive reactions.
Remnants was no longer enough because they'd be one-off pieces and limited. I had to get a full 2 yard batik fabric to produce the jewellery and I started having remnants of my own to finish too. No fabrics will go to waste, they're always used up! I'm so thankful for the support that I've gotten from my customers and friends, the amount of love is beyond my expectation.
How did your brand come about?
I have gained interest in fashion and business since I was 17, that was when I started selling clothes on blogspot and Instagram. Online shopping was practically non-existent then, but it worked out for me.
I went on to study Fashion & Textile Design in Malaysian Institute of Art. Graduated and wanting to have a creative business. Started selling earrings that I got off Shopee, didn't take off.
Few years passed I joined weekly flea markets, to sell preloved items, and also the earrings that didn't sell from the earring business I tried to start. I was also selling extra door gifts I handmade for my wedding, (batik pouches and metal straws). I had the remnants from the pouches lying around and started wrapping the earrings when I got bored at the market. Displayed a few, and it all sold out! That's where the fun began.
I did not expect that people would enjoy these batik earrings, I just kept making them and exploring designs, and I loved making pretty things. So I never stopped.
Who/what are your sources of inspiration?
I try not to limit my creativity, my inspiration comes from everywhere and everyone. Especially makers and illustrators, it can be nothing jewelry or batik related. Sometimes it's the color palette that an illustrator is using, sometimes it's just someone's outfit and what can I do to pop a batik statement in. Sometimes it's playing around with whatever that I have and just make it work.
What are some of the values the brand holds dear to and why?
"Made For You" is what we strive for as we always put 150% love into everything we craft. Each item is handcrafted, we can never get exact duplicates, we want our customers to feel that what they have is unique, just like them.
What are the top 3 things you wish you knew before starting out as a brand? Do share some advice for other local business owners out there!
1) Acknowledge your brand is your own, don't compare to someone else's progress and achievements. Get to your goal, in your own way, at your own time. Don't rush things, process makes perfect, and that's the fun part.
2) Widen your audience, just because it did not sell the minute you launched, doesn't mean it did not work out. Different people, different taste. Someone somewhere just have not found out about you!
3) It's okay to have help, doing everything on your own is good, but having help means being able to do more things for yourself!
What are your goals and vision for your brand in the years to come?
I hope Oh Dayang can grow as a family business, and maybe be able to explore more into textile design, and produce our own batik sarongs or any kind of textile art. Expand as we explore the endless possibilities, but most importantly never stop creating.
Lastly, what makes you brand and product unique?
I believe Oh Dayang brings Malaysia textile art to a whole new level in making a statement. We'd like to call it, "Wearable art, uniquely yours."