‘Batik-inspired’ sanitary pads help poor women earn money

Milad Hassandarvish
(From left) Batik Boutique founder and chief executive officer Amy Blair, Kimberly-Clark Malaysia marketing manager Frenissa Lagman, Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Hannah Yeoh and Kimberly-Clark Malaysia Kotex marketing director Martina Jezdikova unveil the Kotex batik collection. — Picture by Miera Zulyana Abdul Rahman

KUALA LUMPUR, August 23 — Most may think that pairing batik designs and sanitary pads is unconventional.

But in doing so, a group of female artisans from the B40 category (bottom 40 per cent income group) has benefited.

The women, from social enterprise Batik Boutique were hired to design feminine hygiene brand Kotex’s limited edition batik collection sanitary pads.

The designs were also brought to life in true Malaysian style at the Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week (KLFW) 2019 recently.

The unique design was showcased though the fashion collection of local designer Seza Zulkeple in front of a packed audience, including Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh at the centre court of the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.

Designed with young and trendy women in mind, the limited edition pads offer an explosion of bold, vibrant and colourful design packaging featuring intricate motifs that represent Malaysian batik with a modern twist.

According to Batik Boutique founder and chief executive officer Amy Blair, the female artisans at the boutique worked tirelessly to be able to sustain themselves and their families by producing beautiful, high quality fashion items and gifts.

“They were all proud to see their hard work and creativity up on the runway for everyone to see,” she said.

Blair said Batik Boutique was set up to empower women from the B40 group and disrupt the cycle of poverty in Malaysia.

“To do so, I thought the most creative solution would be to introduce the women to batik,” she said.

“In 2015, we established a sewing centre to train women from low-income backgrounds to produce gifts and fashion accessories made from batik.”

Every year, Batik Boutique trains about 35 women to help them gain independence and earn extra income.

“Thanks to Kotex, more people can now appreciate the creativity of the women behind the exquisite batik prints,” said Blair.   

The Kotex collection not only combines function with fashion, but represents an initiative to empower women as part of the brand’s #SheCan global movement.

Kotex tied up with local fashion designer Seza Zulkeple to showcase the limited edition product through her batik collection at Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week. — Picture by Miera Zulyana Abdul Rahman

Speaking about the campaign, Kimberly-Clark Malaysia (sole distributor of Kotex in Malaysia) marketing manager Frenissa Lagman said Kotex was committed to bringing about societal change globally to help young women challenge outdated perceptions and empower them to achieve more.

She added that the partnership with Batik Boutique and KLFW is part of Kotex #SheCan Fund initiative in Malaysia while also providing another platform to support the proud Malaysian tradition of batik design.

Frenissa also noted that the bold batik prints received overwhelming response when it was launched in July.

“We initially wanted to do the batik collection for two months, but after we saw the positive response from the public we decided to have it until next year,” she added.

Commending the initiative, Yeoh said she found the idea refreshing simply because it involves a practical product that women use on a monthly basis.

“I never thought that one day I would see sanitary pads wrapped with batik design.

“This is a classic display of thinking out of the box, and I believe if we put all our talents together, Malaysia can go really far,” she added.

Each pack of batik design sanitary pads comes with an exclusive batik clutch bag designed by female artisans from Batik Boutique. — Picture by Miera Zulyana Abdul Rahman

Yeoh also said that the government was open to more creative initiatives that would tackle social issues such as poverty, education and protection among young people.

The Kotex #SheCan movement has been driving societal change globally to help young women overcome period worries and gender stereotypes to emerge as champions and stand as equals in pursuing their ambitions.

In Malaysia, Kotex kicked off the #SheCan movement in October last year to inspire more young women and girls to make strides in areas where they are currently underrepresented — from arts and education, to entrepreneurship and beyond.

The Kotex batik collection debuts 15 simple yet stylish ready-to-wear silhouettes incorporating bold colour-blocks and batik prints.

Each pack of the limited edition sanitary pad also comes with an exclusive batik clutch bag designed by female artisans from Batik Boutique.

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