Founder of Baju by Oniatta
Like many Singaporeans, I'm driven by purpose. And that purpose is something that comes with a strong intent to make a difference.
Tell us your story, how did you get here?
I found myself drawn to batik on my many travels to different parts of Indonesia. My personal journeys resulted in excessive purchases of batik fabric but also spurred me on to share my passion for the craft and my desire to support the traditional ecosystem of this heritage textile. I started out with just 12 pieces of pants, uniquely designed to look like a sarong, at a pop-up. Today, these Utama pants are a bestseller and a cornerstone creation for Baju by Oniatta.
What impact have you made in Singapore?
Like many Singaporeans, I’m driven by purpose. And that purpose is something that comes with a strong intent to make a difference. I consider myself very fortunate to, in the work I do as a cultural entrepreneur, support an eco-system of traditional textile makers in the region – namely Indonesia and Malaysia. I pride myself as a Singaporean who cares for her neighbours. In honouring traditional craftsmanship in the region, we’re strengthening our ties with our friends from the region and beyond through batik.
I also had the opportunity to showcase my brand in Paris last year as part of a Design Council initiative. The week-long event brought together Parisian and Singaporeans in Paris to celebrate what it means to be Singaporean through fashion and lifestyle products.
There are many local brands that sell batik – but what sets us apart is the connectedness to the history, tradition, heritage and culture of batik and its origins. I’m proud of how the brand has located itself in a region that produces and celebrates batik, as we continue to honour the craft.
What does 2022 look like for you?
2022 is a year of celebrating friendships.
We’ve embarked on a year of collaborations – with India in the Singapore Edit Festival, and with Malaysia through Cotton & Sago with a hand-stamped batik collection. We have something up our sleeves with a collaboration featuring an Indonesian designer too. This is an important (and necessary) development – we learned how crucial it is to acknowledge our relationship with our neighbours in the region. In working more closely together, we’re committed to strengthening each other’s businesses.
We’re also excited to be producing exclusive tiger motifs on batik this year – from hand-stamped to hand-drawn batik. This being the Year of the Tiger (when I was born), the obsession is real! We’ve released a few of these looks and more will feature throughout the year. In the spirit of collaboration, we’ve also worked closely with local furniture company ipse ipsa ipsum on a collection that features the parang motif which has been appropriated to mimic the transverse stripes of a tiger’s coat.
What do you love most about Singapore?
This is where family is. This is home for me.
What’s the one thing you’d wear for the rest of your life?
Need you even ask? Batik, of course!
Who is your Local Legend, and why?
My parents. They’ve inspired me on many occasions – even in the work I do as a designer. I’ve drawn inspiration from their life journey through batiks they wore in the past (you should really see the stash of black and white photos I have of them in batik!). Despite coming from a very different (and traditional) background, they continue to be my strongest supporters and cheerleaders in the work I do with batik now.