Style
Fancy This
Jennifer Choo 
Syazana found her professional niche as a fashion designer
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Creativity was always second nature to Syazana Sukiman but like many creative people, finding her professional niche didn’t come so naturally. Then in 2010, she started a home business making trendy children’s apparel, which has since blossomed into a brand called Whimsigirl.

Last year, Whimsigirl added a women’s collection to its repertoire. And to think that Syazana didn’t have any formal training in designing clothes.

“I went to architecture school but never practised professionally. I knew then that it wasn’t for me,” she confesses. “So I was doing a lot of soul-searching; luckily, I have a very loving and supportive husband. Whenever I had doubts, he reassured me by always saying that the time would come when I finally figure it out. Never once did he doubt me.”

One day, she took up sewing and fell in love with making clothes. “And then people started asking me to make clothes for them so here I am!” she smiles.

Syazana named her label Whimsigirl because it encapsulates her ethos. “Even from young, I’ve always been a super creative person, constantly inventing and doing things differently. I remember that I was insistent on doing a class project my own way at age seven, even though there were guidelines to follow,” she says.

“To this day, I’m someone who doesn’t conform, always going against the current. I’d like to think that I’m constantly pushing my creative boundaries. And yes, I’m that whimsical girl.”

Whimsigirl stands for more than just a label among its followers. “For most girls, Whimsigirl is a state of being,” quips Syazana.

She reveals that the brand has grown organically with sales doubling every year. The designer believes that this is due to Whimsigirl’s focus on the shopping experience and customer engagement.

“When the customers feel connected to your brand and they believe in its values, they will be your biggest advocate. We’re able to grow because of the influence of our customers and the power of word-of-mouth.”

Comprising a tight-knit team of five people, Syazana still designs every piece and imbues then with her belief that design needs to be simple but not typical as well as purposeful and timeless.

In this instance, her tertiary education comes in handy. “All the things I’ve learned, I end up applying in Whimsigirl today; design for people’s needs, design to suit the climate, design a feature because it’s necessary. Architecture taught me that we don’t design to elevate egos, we design to address a social need.”

“In Whimsigirl’s case, we design purposeful clothing for everyday women and children and help them be comfortable in their own skin. We are product-focused. That’s how we build trust; our customers know we put their needs first.”

Above & right: Whimsigirl’s new collection

Whimsigirl ships to over 23 countries with Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the US and the UK at the top of the list. The business was restructured in April last year and since then support and sales have been so overwhelming that the monthly collections were sold out in a matter of days. To meet the increased demand, Syazana and her team have been working overtime; in fact, the company expects to triple its sales by the end of its current financial year.
 

Despite the encouraging numbers, Syazana claims that it is not only about the profits. “I wish to live in a kinder world and we try to spread kindness every day. We may not be able to change the world but we can inspire people, especially women, and help them feel good and empowered. Positive energy is contagious. When people feel inspired, it’s highly likely they will go out and inspire others too,” she says.

This worldview is reflected in Whimsigirl’s #confetti campaign where a portion of the proceeds went to a worthy cause. “Every single garment purchased helped feed a Syrian refugee child for one full day. By the end of the campaign, we managed to feed 3,800 children,” reveals Sukiman.

“It’s not so much the charity but the act of kindness that we like to focus on. If everyone makes a conscious effort to pay it forward, recycle or even something as simple as being kind to others, the impact is huge. We don’t just need smart people; more than ever, we need nicer people in the world.”

For sure, Syazana and her label are making the world of style richer.



This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 270.