Updated: Jan 17
Judging from how this homegrown brand has worked with other popular local gems such as Goodpair Socks and MoshengRen, you wouldn't have guessed that Salang Design only came into existence in 2016 by 3 friends from completely non-business backgrounds. But it is also not a huge surprise how well-loved Salang Design is rapidly becoming, because nothing resonates with people more than the culture our beloved tanah negara has to offer — especially when they come in adorable iron on patches.
What does "salang" mean and how does it play into your brand story?
Coincidentally, three of us speak either Hokkien or Teow Chew and both these dialects share the same pronunciation of “three people” which is what salang translates to. While they both are different dialects, they still have some similarities. I think this also reflects the culture in our country: a cross-cultural society. We speak different languages, have different traditional foods and many more but we never fail to understand each other.
Embroidered iron on patches are still quite niche — why did you decide to go down this route?
During our high school days, we were all scout members. Every time we finished our missions or tests, we were honored with badges (in an iron-on patch form). They were a distinctive emblem that marked our achievements. This was where we started our love of collecting patches which took us down to this path.
We love your range of patches! How do you come up with the designs for them?
We take inspiration from everything around us — tools that we use, foods we eat, or even the words (or unique local slang) we say are sources of our design inspirations. Sometimes, meeting people from other industries and different backgrounds help us to see things differently, and that inspires us too.
What do you want your customers to feel using your products?
As a local-culture-focused brand, we always have a mission in mind — to commemorate and spread culture not just through plain words, but through a tangible product that can be used. We want our customers to feel a sense of belonging when they put on our products, no matter if you are a traveler or a local.
What has been your favorite project in 2020 and why?
During last year National Day, we collaborated with a local socks brand, Goodpair Socks and released our very first socks series called Greater 2gether which promoted unity. Just like its name, we worked things out with many more local talents throughout the entire project and even released a few stop motion videos. The process was even tougher than what we could have imagined but the outcome was absolute love!
You draw a lot of inspiration from Malaysian culture. In your opinion, what are some of the best things about our local culture that make it your muse?
From Chinese-Malay inspired Nyonya cuisine to Indian-Malay inspired mamak food, the melting pot of our cultures has inherited a vast array of cuisines and we think it's the best thing about our culture! Malaysians love food and so do we too. Maybe that’s one of the reason why we made Nasi Lemak our first ever released iron-on patch.
We want our customers to feel a sense of belonging when they put on our products, no matter if you are a traveler or a local.
What was the biggest challenge for you as a brand and how did you overcome it?
As we all graduated from design backgrounds, none of us had any knowledge in how to manage and operate a brand, and how to do marketing. We learned by asking experienced friends, observed how people around us operated, and attended marketing classes. We are still not at our best, but we will never stop at where we are.
What are Salang Design's big goals for 2021?
We have been working from home since we first started and this year we are planning to own a small studio that customers can probably walk in. We will be focusing on incorporating gifting and cross brand collaboration and hopefully in this way, we can raise the brand awareness of Salang Design to another level.