Suraya Sharifuddin, founder of Sakura Malaysia, talks about positive attitude and how it influences the making of her products.
Being positive is what keeps Suraya going. – Pic by Yellow Pages Malaysia
An infectiously positive frame of mind is what keeps Suraya Sharifuddin going. It has also taken her to where she is today. Her design company Sakura Malaysia is renowned for its traditionally inspired artisan bags.
Suraya cites teamwork, laughter, and balance as the keys to her business success.
“I try not to show people (my) weaknesses because when you have people working for you, they need to be motivated. They need to know that you’re up for anything.”
A fuchsia slingbag and tangerine clutch from Sakura Malaysia. – Pic courtesy of Sakura Malaysia Facebook Page
Suraya is understandably thorough when it comes to staffing, preferring someone “who laughs a lot”. In the figurative sense, it means an employee who has a good time doing the job assigned to them and is positive when there’s a spanner in the works.
Literally, Suraya looks for a person who would at least smile. “Because someone who doesn’t laugh a lot or sulk in the office is not a good team member,” she quips.
Getting the input from all her staff is important as well. “Whatever you see on our shelves is basically not just my work of art. It’s everybody’s work of art. I take everybody’s opinions very seriously.”
This gold tote is perfect for formal dinners. – Pic courtesy of Sakura Malaysia Facebook Page
These points outlined by Suraya are probably the secret to the stunning designs of Sakura Malaysia’s products.
Sakura Malaysia bags are not produced en masse like the ones for the retail consumer market. One can see that each bag is made with love.
The leather bags with embossed traditional motifs have a distinctive edge due to their originality and splendour. In short, they scream ‘dare to be different’.
On this, Suraya says: “Of course others make bags too but no one else makes bags with batik lining and traditional (embossed) motifs. I always believe that being different is something that you should embrace. Creating your own niche is great because you don’t have anyone to compete with.”
For that elegant everyday look, the nude tote is a winner. – Pic courtesy of Sakura Malaysia Facebook Page
Even though fashion is a fast-moving industry — today’s hot item may fizzle out as soon as something hotter comes along — Suraya is unperturbed.
“With some brands, you know they will be there for a long time and then there are those that will only last for a short while. Knowing where to position yourself in between these two groups is crucial in making sure you stand out.”
Marketing also features prominently in Suraya’s Sakura Malaysia plan. She uses a mixture of paid advertisements and social networking sites.
Someday, Suraya aims to open a Sakura Malaysia outlet in Italy. – Pic by Yellow Pages Malaysia
“I’m lucky because I have some celebrity friends and they believe in my products. We benefited a lot from sharing with their followers. Even if a small fraction of their thousands of followers buy my goods, it’s good enough and I’m very thankful.”
Spending quality time with her family and dreaming big keep Suraya grounded.
“I spend weekends with my kids and if I have to travel, I try to schedule my trips during school holidays so that I can bring them along. In 10 years’ time, I envision a Sakura Malaysia shop next to Gianfranco Ferré in Italy. Everyone can achieve their dreams by being great at what they’re doing,” says Suraya with a twinkle in her eyes.