Feature Stories

Taking Malaysia’s Modest Fashion International

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By Nurul Zulkifli, Founder & Creative Director of Mimpikita

Although I pursued an engineering course, I have always had a passion for fashion. After comparing the fashion scene in Australia with Malaysia, I realized back then that there were not many ready-to-wear clothing ranges or custom-made bridal gowns available in Malaysia. This sparked my interest in me to start a clothing brand in Malaysia that can cater to this segment of the market.

Mimpikita – from ideation to reality

Upon returning to Malaysia, my sisters Amirah and Syahira hopped on the entrepreneurial train and we took off to pursue our shared goal. We initially started an online blog shop with an initial investment of RM3,000 and named it Mimpikita – ‘our dream’.

From there, the business progressed quickly and we opened our first boutique in 2009 in Sunway Damansara. Two years later, Mimpikita founded its flagship store in Bangsar offers bridal and formal wear fashions. We continued to expand our range and stayed focused on creating our own designs of fashion apparel.

Our breakthrough happened in 2014 when we secured appearances at the annual Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week and London Modest Fashion Week, as well as notable collaborations with several large well-known brands. We were thrilled that a shop in East Linton High Street in the United Kingdom sold our clothing pieces which ignited our long-term goal to sell Mimpikita through a celebrated UK fashion brand!

The recognition for our brand increased immensely, with Mimpikita earning several notable awards from media outlets such as Tatler, Women’s Weekly and the Kuala Lumpur Fashion Awards.  

It was not an easy journey, but the passion and tenacity which my sisters and I share, pushed us beyond our limits and comfort zones to bring the brand to where it is today. Most importantly, we had identified a market niche that was largely unexplored in Malaysia. From designing bridal dresses, today we have expanded to providing Ready-to-Wear collections as well as Bridal + Bespoke Tailoring Services.

The right collaboration at the right time

As with all businesses, we experienced a downturn. In 2018 and 2019, we were faced with overproduction issues. A year later, the COVID-19 pandemic with the resultant lockdowns and movement control orders, affected our business further. We were at a crossroads and had to make one of our toughest decisions – which was to temporarily close our flagship store in Bangsar and permanently close an outlet in KLCC.

With every dark cloud, there is a silver lining. That experience taught us to align, focus and re-strategize our business approach. We shifted our focus back to our online platform and are scaling up our digital marketing strategy, targeting the Southeast Asia region.

Today, as a primarily online retailer, logistics became the new concern for Mimpikita – getting the products to the end customer in a timely, efficient manner. Going online meant being accessible to the whole world. Orders started coming in from many different countries. We were faced with new challenges of fulfilling all these orders, each with a different set of shipping requirements, while providing customers with on-time delivery, tracking capabilities and reliability.

In the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, most flights were either grounded or had slowed down worldwide. From an operational perspective, we had reservations in meeting shipping timelines and were faced with delays. Our challenge was in choosing the right logistics provider for our online business.

Thankfully, our shipping affiliate FedEx has made things easier for us. By leveraging on their strong logistics infrastructure and extensive global network, Mimpikita can now offer a seamless shopping experience and provide reliable and timely shipments to our international customers in countries as near as Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and as distant as the U.K, the UAE and the U.S.

Without our logistics collaboration with FedEx, we could not offer reliable and on-time delivery to our customers. FedEx has provided us with the peace of mind that the delivery aspect of our business is being managed professionally and reliably.   

By leveraging FedEx’s capabilities in handling our logistical matters, we are now able to focus on our online retail operations and continue to improve our product range. As FedEx maintains its own transport fleet, delays were uncommon, so we could scale our business accordingly. These have helped Mimpikita as a Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) to navigate the challenging logistical landscape of the pandemic. 

Nuggets of advice to entrepreneurs

The Mimpikita team is made up of passionate dreamers who came together to turn our passion into reality. Through the early days, we were fortunate to have each other and the support of our family. My sisters are my support system – they are always there to uplift me when I need the push. Entrepreneurs need to identify their support system, which can come in the form of a mentor, an experienced entrepreneur, a coach or a key family member.

Secondly, identify the problem that needs to be solved. The best new enterprises succeed because of their ability to provide a solution. A lack of a certain type of fashion may not seem like a huge problem, but as our growth shows, there was a demand for our modest ready-to-wear and bridal fashions, especially in more conservative countries.

Branding, branding, branding. This goes beyond the logo and colours and addresses the soul of the enterprise. In our case, we struck a chord in the current climate of female empowerment with our #TheKitaGirls initiative, highlighting women in Malaysia who embody the spirit of “an independent woman or one who is wearing many hats juggling multiple roles but never forgetting self-care”.

Lastly, do not be afraid of failure. One learns and grows from their mistakes, which will make one stronger in the business world. Mimpikita became what it is today despite us having minimal knowledge and expertise in the fashion world, but imbued with sheer grit and determination. After all, when we started, we were just three young women with big dreams who decided to take up the challenge of creating an accessible modest clothing line that caters to not only fellow Malaysians but also to the global market. Dreams do come true.

Today, we continue to pursue our dream of turning Mimpikita into a timeless and ever-lasting brand that will grow with our #TheKitaGirls and be present during those special moments in their lives.

When you put your heart and soul into something, any dream is possible. Whenever something doesn’t work right, always work harder till you achieve your goals.

Nurul Zulkifli is the CEO and Creative Director of Mimpikita, a contemporary modest fashion brand that began as a fashion blog shop in 2008. She is a self-taught fashion entrepreneur, who credits her fashion sense to growing up in a creative household with strong fashion and artistic influences that helped her appreciate the craft.

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