What’s the most excellent way to grow as an entrepreneur and succeed in your business? Well, one of the best actions you can take is to learn from people who have done it before. One such person with an inspirational tale to tell is Padzilah Enda Sulaiman, founder of Malaysia-based Siti Khadijah Apparel, one of the leading creators of patented premium female prayer outfits.
Besides its signature collection of prayer garments or telekung
, the company also makes other female clothing items such as jubah
(long dress), baju kurung
(traditional Malay costume), hijab (head covering), hand socks and various accessories targeted at helping Muslim pilgrims stay comfortable during their umrah and hajj.
As part of our August ‘Women Entrepreneurship’ theme, we met up with Padzilah, who is also the designer of the innovative styles at Siti Khadijah, to share her success story with the Malaysian SME community.
How it all started
Siti Khadijah Apparel was founded in 2009. The idea behind its inception came from Padzilah’s own experience and understanding of the available options in the market, which were of low-quality fabrics, often stain-prone and with a tendency to smell very easily.
She noted that “These prayer outfits would commonly be ill-fitted with poor cutting that did not stay put around the face and chin area,” adding that “sometimes, a see-through material is used.” This, she said, goes against true Syariah compliance and is part of what motivated her to create a more effective solution.
Far and wide
From the public reception of Siti Khadijah Apparel products around Malaysia, it is clear that the challenge was the right one to solve. The award-winning brand has even pushed beyond its more than 24 stores across the Malaysian shores to an additional one in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Padzilah revealed that while the initial entry in the new market was challenging — language barrier being an issue — they never stopped learning to understand the culture as well as the local needs and styles of the Indonesian market.
“Other challenges include procedures to establish our company name and, at the same time, preserve our designs from being imitated by any irresponsible parties. But we made it through, Alhamdulillah! Mukena SK is now getting popular in Indonesia!” she said.
Innovation is the name of the game
Throughout all the stages of its business journey, Siti Khadijah Apparel aims to stand out from any competition it might have. “We believe in our products and aspire to be one step ahead in every phase, from quality control to customer service,” Padzilah pointed out.
The brand already has a successful strategy in which it combines the history of the women’s prayer attire with modern designs and high-grade materials to create a practical, comfortable and beautiful product.
“We don’t need to compare our premium products with others as we have patented our designs and use high-quality fabrics that are manufactured in-house,” Padzilah explained. “We are striving to produce more innovative Syariah-compliant designs.”
We all need role models
And in the case of Padzilah, the role model was the beloved wife of Prophet Muhammad, Saidatina Siti Khadijah binti Khuwailid. Padzilah noted that the Prophet’s wife is known for her “impressive entrepreneurial skills which align with Siti Khadijah Apparel’s entrepreneurship goals, which are not solely profit-focused.”
“Saidatina Siti Khadijah is an inspiration to every modern Muslim woman,” Padzilah added. “Therefore, I picked that beautiful name to brand our prayer outfit hoping that I could provide consumers with a world-quality product, while at the same time educating them about consumerism and entrepreneurship.”
We also asked Padzilah for some advice for women thinking about starting their own business. “Never let your dream be just a dream. Never be afraid to make the first move by working on it,” she replied. “Always learn to improve, find solutions and never give up when you’re experiencing difficult circumstances.” Words of wisdom to live by? We think you’ll agree!