There’s a lot of heart and soul that goes into Stitchworks, from handmade pieces to the use of pre-loved fabrics, the slow fashion label has become a safe haven for dreamers, lovers and survivors. With a focus on hand embroidery and repurposed up-cycled clothes, as well as accessories, each design stays true to the authentic brand by being one-off pieces that are tailored to charm and provide comfort. Now, almost a year later, StitchWorks has blossomed into an independent textile, design and creative line.
Behind the bubbly brand is its founder and designer, Hannah Nazasli, who developed an interest in fashion while living in the UK. At age 10, after laying her eyes on the prestigious Central Saint Martins building, she vowed to return to the art school and study the vibrant world of fashion – she ended up doing so in 2020, and thus Stitchworks was born out of drive, passion and inspiration. We spoke to the budding entrepreneur about starting a business as a creative, sustainable fashion, the challenges of opening a store, and squeezing in self-care as a one-woman show.
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What do you love most about owning a business?
The fact that I am my own boss and answer to myself. It teaches me to be more responsible, but also driven to keep learning and growing from my own business as there’s always more to learn. If I do something right and customers are happy, that adds value to my customers and my business, and if I end up making mistakes along the way, I learn from that and challenge myself to seek stronger strategies – to be better not just for me, but for the people I meet and encounter for StitchWorks.
What advice do you have for other creatives looking to start their own business?
JUST GO FOR IT! There is no right or wrong time to start your own business – especially if it’s something you love and are passionate about. I had my doubts while creating and assembling plans for StitchWorks and even when creating designs, but then I realised that it’s all in my head and I have to push through it to prove to myself that I can do it. I believe that we all have the power to create our own realities, we just need to keep working towards our goals and out of our comfort zones to achieve success, greatness and above all, do everything with LOVE.
How would you describe Sitchworks’ style?
Bringing together simplicity, contemporary design, and abstract / experimental form, StitchWorks’ style translates emotion into wearable products. It has notes of Y2K vibes, as well as a sophistication for emotion and passion. Whenever I create a design, I am channeling all my emotional energy (whether I’m sad, angry, stressed, happy, excited, in love) and that drives me to create my designs and see them come to life.
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You recently opened your first store, what would you say was the biggest challenge in doing so?
Yes! We have opened a small studio at KEDAI, Level 3 Mahsa Avenue. We opened on the 9th and 10th of January; however, the week I was supposed to officially launch the studio quickly turned into MCO 2.0 on the 13th of January. I had my friends and family help me out at the end of December and I had the opportunity to paint a mural with Adam Ummar – a talented aspiring local artist. It was my first time painting a mural, but it was a lot of fun! We felt like mad scientists expressing our colourful passions on a massive blank canvas. The biggest challenge was time and the short time frame we had with potential closures from the MCO’s extension. However, we managed to pull everything together in 10 days and the studio was ready for operation. All I had in my head was MCO or not, “The show must go on!”. If you put your mind, heart and soul into anything, you can achieve what you envision!
Your studio also showcases other brands, what are your favourite local brands at the moment:
- Good Juju – for their beautiful tie dye apparel that’s perfect for any occasion.
- Love Light Lemons – for their efforts to help refugees from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the use of organic cotton in their apparel.
- Lemon by ACK – for their exceptional up-cycled textiles to create bags, corsets, tops and swimwear.
How does Stitchworks itself practice sustainability?
StitchWorks uses purely up-cycled materials, fabrics, threads and beads to create our designs and apparel. For example, using vintage jeans to make denim tote bags. I used to study textiles in school and have made many passion projects for myself throughout the years, so I never threw my materials away and have a good collection of them. This gave me the opportunity to repurpose those fabrics and threads into new creations. If I ever need to resupply my materials, I will seek items from second-hand shops, friends’ or family’s pre-loved clothes, or thrift shops. StitchWorks is also open for donations of pre-loved clothes, so if you’ve spring cleaned your closet and found that you have clothes you want to donate, feel free to give them to us – we’ll be happy to recreate and transform your pre-loved items!
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As a one-woman show, what do you do when you feel yourself burning out?
I always need to take a step back into nature, or travel somewhere for the beach where I always feel calm – I am always inspired by flowers, the ocean and even animals for textural designs. As well as listen to my favourite tunes and have a boogie to relax and unwind. I usually need to treat myself a little, (whether it be getting my nails done, a massage or my favourite ice cream) to get back into a lucid state of mind and dream bigger about future designs. It’s the little things you do for yourself that matter too, to get yourself back into the groove.
What are your self-care essentials?
I take my skin care very seriously, so I must have my holy grails with me at all times. I have practiced a strict skincare routine for myself by cleansing, toning and moisturising my face every morning and every night at the bare minimum. I can’t leave anywhere without a facial cleanser, face toner, face moisturiser and body lotion.
Any last words?
I believe that even through pain and suffering, you can utilise that energy and manifest beauty in your own creations – I perceive it as alchemy! There is always something new to learn whether it be a sewing technique, knowledge or an experience shared with friends, and I am excited to see where and how StitchWorks will grow, independently and with fellow creatives. StitchWorks is not just a slow fashion label, it is also a hub for any creatives (artists, writers, musicians, foodies, health and fitness) to share their vision and passions, as well as a creative event space for anyone who wants to share their work.
Social media has fashion moving faster than ever! And that’s not a good thing.
You’ve probably seen the term ‘fast fashion’ plastered all over social media, but what is it exactly? Fast fashion can be described as inexpensive, mass produced clothing designed to meet the latest trends.
With Instagram and Pinterest taking over magazines and catalogs as the place to find #outfitinspo, clothing brands are constantly having to keep up with the fast-changing trends churned out by these sites. Have you ever noticed how everything the Kardashians wear is already available to wear just a few days after they press post – at only a fraction of the price?!
These high speeds, and low prices, have caused a huge problem with pollution, waste and human rights abuses. As the issues become more pressing, many consumers, and brands, have become more conscious about their fashion choices – keeping an eye out for sustainable, as well as ethical, alternatives that benefit the planet, people and animals.
One of these brands is Love, Light, Lemons – a local charity initiative with the intention to curate sustainable products while continuously uplifting the lives of communities in need. Founded in 2017 by writer and yoga instructor, Raisa Gabrielli, they’ve offered the public sustainable products, from candles to now activewear, that benefit different charities each year.
Why should you choose their activewear? Well, for starters, its made from 100% organic cotton (GOTS certified) and sewn by refugees under UNHCR. Not to mention, their designs are super cute, just like the animals at their current beneficiary, The Strays of Shah Alam.
The brand aims to raise awareness on the impact of fast fashion, as well as the unfair treatment of refugees in Malaysia by providing a sustainable and ethically made alternative to consumers. Those who purchases these pieces will be supporting the production of 100% organic cotton over modified cotton (which has led to environmental degradation, and even deaths within Indian farming communities), and avoid wearing clothing made with plastic.
When it comes to reducing the negative impact of fast fashion, we all have the power and ability to make responsible choices. Play your part by supporting fair brands who strive to make a positive impact. This can help influence the industry to become more sustainable and ethical!
As consumers grow more aware of the harm caused by fast fashion, it’s been refreshing to see sustainability rise as a trend. But wait, what exactly is sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion uses materials that are carefully sourced and produced with the environment in mind. It’s also known as ethical fashion as it ensures safe and fair working conditions for their employees. In some cases, sustainable fashion can also refer to thrifting and repurposing – this involves upcycling old clothes and turning them into completely new pieces of clothing!
We’ve been seeing more and more local brands commit to making a difference, and they look good while they’re at it. Here are 6 local sustainable fashion brands you can support:
Terrae, which means ‘Earth’ in Latin and Italian, is a sustainable activewear brand that focuses on being both durable and timeless.
Their clothes are made from a material called ECONYL, which is regenerated nylon derived from discarded fishing nets, and fabric scraps that would otherwise end up in landfills. This virgin nylon alternative has great recovery power, so you don’t need to sweat about its performance! Even their packaging is produced from recyclable and biodegradable materials.
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Holly @thekittyluxe looks amazing in Vida Top & Bottom #ozeromuses #vidaozero #ozeroswimwear #ozerobrand • • • • • #lemon #sustainablefashion #sustainableliving #sustainableswimwear #swimwearmalaysia #swimwearkl #swimwearkualalumpur #swimwearsg #swimwearsingapore #swimwearhongkong #swimwearhk #swimwearshanghai #swimweargeneva #swimwearlondon #swimwearparis #zalora #zaloramy #zalorasg #zalorataiwan
Inspired by the Russian word ‘озеро’, which means ‘lake’ in English, Ozero stays true to its creative name with each swimwear design being named after lakes.
By using ECONYL, their fabulous pieces are made from rescued plastic waste, such as fishing nets and industrial plastic, and offer everything you look for in good swimwear – like great shape retention, chlorine and suntan cream resistance, and excellent UV protection!
Batik lovers, this one’s for you.
Dona Plant Base is a sustainable brand that strongly believes in ethical practices and giving back to the community. Their beautiful batik pieces are made by artisans in Bali and therefore, each piece is completely unique and made in limited quantities – like a work of art.
They use natural dyes from locally grown plants, upcycled textiles, organic sustainable materials, as well as plastic-free packaging. Dona Plant Base offers the most gorgeous tops, dresses, bags, face masks and more!
Fast fingers are needed to get a Ghostboy piece since their tops are always sold out within minutes!
Founded by David and Cyii Cheng, Ghostboy Club is known for its distinctive one-of-a-kind pieces that can be spotted from a mile away. Each item is uniquely designed and handmade with used clothing sourced from thrift stores and donations. The end product is an eccentric piece of art that’s attracted their cult following.
Lazii Vintage is a sustainable brand that turns the oversized ‘dad shirt’ into all-the-rage goodness!
They rework and upcycle vintage sweatshirts and other clothing to increase the lifespan of each item. Their pieces are carefully curated and uniquely reworked by hand with no two pieces alike. Lazii also extends its sustainability efforts to the packaging by using eco-friendly and recycled materials.
Lemon by ACK is a slow fashion label that uses ethically sourced fabrics and materials such as 100% organic cotton to create eye-catching apparel and accessories.
Their beautiful tops, bags and swimwear are manufactured at a local sewing facility run by the non-profit organization, Life 2 Life El Shaddai, which focuses on fostering life-long skills and knowledge to displaced individuals.
Feed two birds with one seed and shop from these sustainable brands – you’ll be saving the Earth, ensuring fair practices and supporting small businesses!