The entrepreneur and fashion designer talks empowerment and inclusivity in her womenswear label Whimsigirl – and how family holidays in Langkawi is what keeps her going
Entrepreneur Syazana Sukiman knows what it’s like to be the odd one out – growing up, she was always told that was too lanky or too dusky in complexion. Despite that, she has always felt comfortable in her own skin, something she wants to instill in other women too.
Although she doesn’t call herself a fashion designer, Syazana is the creator and founder behind homegrown womenswear label Whimsigirl, which grew in 2017 out of a children’s clothing brand she had started earlier in 2011. Her eye for smart design – she is an architecture graduate – and love for high-quality, tropical climate-friendly fabrics like linen and cotton have garnered the label a cult following.
Featuring sets of versatile, easy-to-match separates, her designs are a blend of the traditional and contemporary, with subtle structural details like ruching and pleats to make them work- and occasion-appropriate – all true to the brand’s ethos of being “proud outfit repeaters”.
At the heart of Whimsigirl is a commitment to inclusivity. The brand launched The Everyday Girl movement, a series they’re running both on their website and Instagram which celebrates the diversity among women through features and interviews with “Everyday Girls” from various ethnicities and backgrounds. Recently, Whimsigirl has also been collaborating with female founders and freelancers in a new Instagram Live series called “The Everyday Girl Guide” in support of fellow creatives in the community.
We recently chatted with KL-based Syazana, who shared why diversity is so important to her, how she’s been running a business from home and where she escapes to when she needs a break from it all.
What inspired you to start The Everyday Girl Movement?
Growing up, I hardly saw any representation of women in brands that I felt I could relate to. When we started to design for women, we made it our core mission to create clothing for the everyday women, cater to their needs and wants, while also establishing a platform that cultivates a sense of community.
What has running a business from home been like so far?
My husband and I have taken nesting to a whole new level – our home has become a fixer-upper project. I’m an introvert, so I’ve enjoyed the solitude and the quality time at home. But as much as I love being at home, I can’t beat the productivity and positive energy I experience at work.
Any go-to #WFH style tips?
My go-to WFH outfits have been all my Whimsigirl oversized blouses and shirts. I feel put together but still comfortable enough to juggle working, Zoom calls, cooking for the family and managing chores. Every day without fail, I’ll also put on my favourite gold hoop earrings for an instant pick-me-up.
What new initiatives has Whimsigirl adopted to help navigate these times?
During the MCO, we simplified our packaging and used the money saved to distribute to local food banks. When you shop local brands like Whimsigirl in times like these, you’re making more than just a purchase. Sometimes, you’re extending a lifeline (to the individuals who need it).
What are some upcoming projects you’re working on?
We’ve just released our new Essential Neutrals collection. We’re also encouraging everyone to subscribe to our newsletters on Whimsigirl.com, which we’ve updated with all our new releases, tips and tricks, love letters and exciting interviews with the Everyday Girls.
Where do you escape to in Malaysia when you need a break from it all?
Running an SME takes so much out of us entrepreneurs that we hardly have the time to travel. Over the last couple of years, we’ve been blessed to be able to head to Langkawi once a year and spend the best quality time with our kids. We love its quiet, gorgeous, and safe beaches as well as the beautiful resorts! The kids only ask for holiday trips to Langkawi now – it’s become our favourite place. There’s no other place we’d rather be.
Inclusivity and female empowerment are important to you and to Whimsigirl. What kind of Malaysian community do you hope to see emerge from this crisis?
I believe that every community is like an ecosystem – one can’t survive without others. Instead of just focusing on our needs, I’d love for every girl to look at ways they could give back to their community, whether’s it financially, job opportunities, support systems, mentorships… We need each other now more than ever.
Shop Whimsigirl’s Neutral Essentials collection here.