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Knotty Stuff With Ofniji's Crotchet Works

Ofniji Crochet Fashion Clothes Handmade Local Malaysia
Yarned and dangerous

Let's be honest, most of us don't have the patience for this. But when you do and put the work in, the results are totally worth it. Case in point: Ofniji. Plus, imagine making your own clothes instead of buying them — your wallet will thank you. Of course, today is International Women's Day too and what better way to celebrate female creativity and entrepreneurship than with a mother-daughter duo that started from humble beginnings and are quickly making a name for themselves in the local scene with their talented digits. Below, we talk to Nicole, the daughter-half of the business.

How did Ofniji come about? Tell us the meaning behind your name! The word niji actually means 'rainbow' in Japanese. Momma Niji always loved rainbows. If there's a rainbow in the sky, you'll definitely find her on the balcony taking a million photos. She wanted our name to have something to do with rainbows so, we played around with that idea a lot and landed on the name Niji. We found it to be pretty fitting to our business as there are so many colors to work with when it comes to crochet. We also wanted our pieces to bring a little color to peoples' lives, a piece of the rainbow if you will.

Have both of you always been into crocheting? When did the passion for it start? Momma Niji had started crocheting in 2017 and it has been a passion of hers ever since. I only picked it up recently so I'm definitely working on being as good as her! Right now, Momma Niji handles the bigger projects while I handle smaller ones.

People always say not to mix personal with business — can you share with us what it's been like as a mother-daughter duo behind the brand? We would say we have a pretty solid relationship so it feels like working with a best friend. We're pretty lucky in that sense. Of course, we do have disagreements but we also have a mutual understanding that business is business. Constructive communication is also super important in any work relationship.

We love how fun and playful your pieces are! Where do you mostly get your fashion inspiration from? Everywhere! It can be something totally unrelated to crochet or maybe a piece another crocheter has made. We draw inspiration from everywhere so we normally play around with whatever we see and put our own spin on it.

Crocheting is quickly becoming a popular fashion and hobby trend. What is it about crochets that you personally find charming? We think it's pretty cool that you can transform a humble skein of yarn into something you can wear. Fundamentally, crochet is the process of creating textiles by interlocking loops of yarn and creating stitches with a crochet hook. That's about it. Whatever you make is all up to your imagination and creativity. We also love how crochet promotes long-lasting, sustainable fashion. To be able to make your own clothes is magical and helps to fight the evils of fast fashion.

The most important thing for us is to actually like what we are producing. We don't make pieces we don't like or wouldn't wear.

How long does each piece generally take? It looks like you need a lot of patience to do this line of work! It really depends on the complexity of the design. Some pieces take two weeks while some take a day. We try not to rush through any of our projects and prefer to take our time to ensure consistent stitches.

Did you ever feel it was risky starting out as a home business? What were some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them? The beginning was pretty daunting. Competition from other local brands would be something we faced early on. We've had brands accuse us of stealing their ideas and other brands copy ours as well. Things happen. It did bother us at first but we decided to focus on what we were doing, regardless of what others are doing. We want to remain authentic to ourselves. We're here just to do our craft and do what we love, which is really all that matters. You've made bucket hats, earrings and halter tops. In your own words, can you describe your creative process on how you decide what kind of pieces to do? There is a lot of trial and error involved in our creative process. We spend a lot of time experimenting with different styles, stitches, and yarn. Sometimes an idea sounds great but ends up not working out. Sometimes pieces that we don't put much expectation on turn out to be our favorites. So, it's all about playing around with it. The most important thing for us is to actually like what we are producing. We don't make pieces we don't like or wouldn't wear.

What's one thing that most people don't know about crocheting that they will find surprising? It's not the same as knitting! People often confuse knitting with crocheting when it's actually two different crafts. With knitting, stitches are created by moving a set of loops from one needle to another. Crochet uses a single hook to hook loops together to form stitches.

We've seen that you also take custom orders — any interesting or memorable customer briefs that you can share with us? A customer once ordered a custom toddler dress as a gift for a friend's daughter. She's an illustrator so she actually drew out the design she had in mind. It was so great how she visualized the design she wanted. It was really creative and original. We were also super happy we were able to bring her idea to life! So that would definitely be one of our most memorable briefs.

Some people may be very curious about crocheting, can you give us your tips and tricks for people at home that want to give this a shot? One tip we would give to people who would want to give crochet a go, would be to definitely invest in a good hook. The hook really makes all the difference. We would recommend Clover hooks.

Lastly, what are your visions and goals for Ofniji? We would love to continue improving our craft and coming up with new stuff. We would definitely love to take on bigger and more challenging customs in the future! We are so immensely grateful for the amount of support we've received so far and we just hope to be able to keep doing what we're doing.


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