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Monday, November 9, 2015

Solat sunat istikharah

The other day I decided to try out solat sunat istikharah. I didnt do it before because everything was still within thinking and reasoning. Also, the relationship was not actually 'halal'.

I know from the get go that whatever 'signs' I get will not be in the form of dreams because otherwise I would be a dream psychic by now already. In other words, I dream about a lot of vivid things.

Before performing the solat I researched it a bit and found out the best way to see these 'signs' is from your own heart. Your instincts will change. It will guide you to the best decision. I find this more feasible, considering how my heart and brain are sometimes at war with each other regarding this matter.

I also learned that it cannot be performed just once. My friend told me her husband did it for one week straight. He even asked a friend to perform it for him too. My friend did it sparingly. But the key point is to do it more than once and consistently. I therefore decided to do it continuously until I feel no compulsion for it anymore. And so it began.

I did it for 4 nights straight. But I could feel my heart changing as I was getting ready to perform it the second night. I went ahead anyway because I wanted a CONFIRMATION not just a FEELING. As usual, I had some weird dreams the four nights I was performing istikharah and even one where I was out shopping with him. But I discounted it.

Until the fifth night.

As I was showering and thinking about doing it that night, I felt extremely lazy. My heart simply went "but I dont wanna...." on me. Even when I try to rationalize it with "but I havent gotten my CONFIRMATION. I havent gotten a CLEAR sign yet. Just do it again one more time. It wont hurt." My heart simply refused. To my heart, this matter is not important anymore. It did not want to be burdened by it anymore. Even my body was starting to protest to perform this prayer. I just felt lazy and annoyed thinking about doing it.

It was then that I realized; this is it. This was my answer. To someone like me, this is the perfect sign. It took me a while to realize it, but Allah knows me. Knows exactly how to get my answer across to me.

I thought about it for a while. What does it mean? He's not the one? Stop hoping completely? Stop hoping for now? then who is my supposed partner?

I measured the questions against the feeling in my heart and came up with one answer; it doesnt matter. At least for now, it doesnt matter. Think of something else instead.

It was as simple as that.

Funny isnt it? I consider myself lucky to even get an answer. Some people couldnt even get an answer when their dilemmas I consider more important than mine.

Now I'm thinking of performing solat sunat hajat for new year. Im going to follow the same formula. Do it consistently for a week. Why am I waiting until the new year to perform it? Because right now, I'm not sure what I want. I thought I was so sure but I'm not anymore. And when performing solat hajat you must be specific. Because Allah will grant you the wish in your heart that you didnt say. The wish that is even better than what you asked for.

The most important thing is to work hard for your goals, and then turn to Allah with an open and willing heart.

I hope I can find what I want for 2016.

And so do you too.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Editing my Wardrobe

How many jubahs do you REALLY need??

I counted 13 in my closet but I really wear only one. I'm not the type who wears jubah everyday for work because the shop is too cold for jubahs. Mine are mostly worn for occassions. My family doesnt have a lot of parties or gathering. Not even once a month. But when the season comes, you may be looking at maybe 3-4 get togethers, parties or weddings in a month at most.

So why do I have 13 jubahs? I shall try to break it down.

1- my black jubah that I wear over my pajamas when I go out to do quick morning errands. This is the one i wear most often.

2- a lycra princess cut jubah. Last I wore it was during my bertekol. I cant remember if I wore it again after that.

3,4,5 - one each for my sister's wedding and enggagement, one from my own engagement.

6- the one Bella Ammara jubah I bought for raya last year that I havent worn since. I think I kept it as a sample for future jubahs.

7- the cotton jubah I made for raya 3 years ago that I wore mayve only once since my cousin's wedding.

8- the jubah I wore on my birthday

9- the jubah I couldnt wear for last year's Raya because I had too many clothes already.

10- the jubah dress I wore once for the family get together on the eve of my sister's engagement.

11- the jubah from this year's raya. Only one because I already had way too many clothes.

12, 13- a pink and a red sequin jubah i have worn once and never (red).

I think from now on, before raya, I need to do some serious decluttering to make space for raya clothes. And cut down on how many raya clothes I need.


Bajet 2016 Review for Butik

Recently the Malaysian Bajet 2016 was presented. Normally these things don't interest me, but since working in Kino, and now, having my own business and being an employer, it is important to keep up, especially since after JUST introducing minimum wage a couple of years ago, it is now being INCREASED.

On the whole, I applaude this move because I know we deserve it. But being an employer in the small business retail sector, it presents an extra cost. Right now in sarawak, minimum wage is RM800 for any employee working a minimum of 40 paid hours a week. (Dont listen to other people who says this is just a 'guideline'. It is the rules. These people are just too stingy to pay minimum wage. That's right, I'm calling you stingy for not paying what your staff is owed) Normally people work 9 hours a day, 1 hour being lunch time so the other 8 hours are their paid hours. This is common for any full-time staff anywhere. I calculate OT and base part-timer's wage from this too.

Now, starting from June 2016, the minimum wage in Sarawak is raised from RM800 to RM920. And the next time it is raised,  I am sure, will be to RM1000. Because in Peninsular Malaysia min wage is RM900, and is being raised to RM1000 next year. I have two butiks, and two staffs. I pay them both minimum wage and our sales barely cover our expenses. I can safely say, next year, we will not be able to afford a full time staff for our second butik because it will cut very deeply into profitability. Most probably we will hire a long-term parttime staff instead. At least until we get to point where we are comfortable to pay two fulltimers.

But for how long?

I dont think this style of doing business is sufficient anymore. The only constant thing is change. We have to re-think the way we do business. Re-think how we view the market, the customers, their needs and wants, their priorities. And at the same time, allign them to our own self-preservation and profitability.

There must be a balance somewhere.

Recently I heard some troubling news.

When I met my materials supplier in KL, at Jalan TAR, they asked me how business was during Raya season. I told them business was great. We almost doubled our sales from the previous year. He said that's very good, because business was bad for a lot of Jalan TAR sellers. Some of them couldn't even cover their costs. I was shocked. This is Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman. MASJID INDIA TERRITORY.This is THE place to shop for raya, every other sellers in Malaysia get their stocks from this place, yet they themselves couldnt cover costs? It was shocking.

He said GST was a big reason and causes people to have less money to spend on luxury things. Even during the season I noticed how, if they have a family event coming soon after raya, like a relative's wedding, they would try to buy clothes that coincides with the theme color of the wedding, as opposed to last year when people wouldnt think too much over buying two outfits. Although really, how often would you wear that fancy jubah or fancy kurung the rest of the year anyway?

This is not an isolated case. My tailor also told me that business was slow after raya, ini anticipation of the Raya Haji season. He said if it wasn't for some big orders from Brunei, it would be quite bad for him too.

So clearly, the market is changing. It changes every year. I'm not just talking about fashion styles, I'm talking about the consumers themselves. In fact, I dont think it is an annual change. It is a monthly and seasonal change. And they dont revert back to their previous state.

As a retailer and as a business person, some big changes in thinking is required here. A complete paradigm shift.

In the mean time, here are some links for the Bajet 2016. I find them easiest to understand in these websites.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Selling Online Through Instagram

I started my Instagram shop - Instashop in mid August. The first paid reviews went up on the last week in August, also known as payday week. I gained about 300-400 followers from those reviews and zero sales.

It is now end of October. I had one interested query but that was a backout buyer, therefore no sales yet as of now.

I looked online everywhere and most people only reccomend using instagram to promote your products and services as opposed to using it to SELL. I want to SELL damnit, SELL!!

I tried to break down the best ways to get sale through instagram and from what I see of what other non-branded instashops did is paid reviews bg someone with more followers than you. Basically two things contribute to sales;

1) Number of followers
2) Number of likes per photo

Number of Followers

Of course, if you have a lot of followers then it means that you are a trusted seller. If you are a trusted seller then people are more likely to buy from you. I can understand this very well, but there must be like a lower limit to this. I got my first (backout) buyer at 600 followers, but I am really trying to reach 1k follower first because I saw that many online sellers in the 1k-2k followers group swap reviews with each other for free. So there must be some success here at least.

Number of Likes per photo

As a buyer, it doesn't really motivate me to buy when a picture has a lot of likes. It just means that that product is popular. And may be put of stock. Maybe it is just my nature that I have a very specific taste so it doesnt matter if a product is popular and has a lot of likes. I won't just buy it because of this factor.

My ultimate goal is SALES. So whatever I do, SALES is the end goal. Therefore my logic right now is, the more followers you have, the more likely people are going to buy from you. And so my focus is then to increase followers. How to increase followers?

I even bought a book for this topic but I dont see succesful instashops doing anything in them. Ill update another time. What a lot of them ARE doing is swap reviews and paid reviews. That is, paying other sellers with more followers than them to advertise their instashop. Because I started with 10 followers, it was very slow going in the beginning and nobody told you what is the amount you shpuld spend, what kind of IG shops you should advertise at, and what kind of pictures work best. And also if paying celebrities to review your instashop is worth it.

So many things to cover and ponder!

However, after dealing with other online sellers I engaged for IG reviews, some of them gave me some valuable advice. I dont follow all of them, but these people have over 100k followers, so clearly they are doing something right. Among them:

1) single picture of a person wearing your merchandise works best, as opposed to cluttered  group pics
2) Fill up your Instagram account with 'stocks'. At that time I only had 10 pics in my account, being quite new. So she reccomended that I fill it up as much as I can with pics of stuff I'm selling. I suppose it makes your instagram looks like a catalogue. The more stuff to see, the longer people stay, and the more motivated they are to buy?
3) private your account during a review. So you can monitor how many followers you obtain during each review session.
4) There are peak hours to doing IG Reviews. To some it's 6pm, but mostly it is 8-10pm. You can see some sellers charge differently for each time slot. And when they do, the 8pm-10pm slot is always more expensive.
5) provide caption with the most information in the first 10 words. Because Instagram has this new thing where they will shorten your long caption and you have to collapse it to read the full thing.
6) Capture 'moments', not 'pictures'. I got this from the book on how to do promote your business through instagram. Because this is basically what instagram is about, capturing moments.
7) of course, be firm with your customers, always answer enquiries promptly and politely. Be professional and do not be overly familiar. Treat them with as much respect as possible. Online buyers tend to be very impatient. So set yourself "business hours" during which time you are available to answer queries and what not, and shut off after hours. It is important for your sanity. Of customers start spamming your IG becausr you didnt answer them quickly enough, simply be courteus. Answer them politely anyway because how ypu handle this situation will significantly affect your current and future buyers. Learn some customer service skills, just like in any retail and selling jobs.

I personally havent reached 1k yet, and I am trying to implement in some changes in strategy and hopefully I will be able to get some sales. Sad.

I shall keep you updated.

All the best!


I know I should let go. But I am stubborn. So instead of doing what I know is right, I try to find validation for what I want to achieve. And then when I find out the methods to achieve what I want, I start thinking if all of it is worth it.

Either way, life surprised me again. It is hard to get good advice when people who care about you are biased towards  you and you end up having to make excuses for someone. But last night I received advice and motivation from one among my most ardent supporters. These people kept on surprising me on how understanding they can be for having gone through my situation.

For that I am happy. I am still in the early stages of healing. But I feel so much better that other people are thinking of me in a favorable light. It is very encouraging.

so now, with a heavy heart still, I look forward to a better future, while keeping my fantasy a secret just enough to keep me going. 😊 I am fine now.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Dressing for less

Whenever I think of the effortlessly well-dressed man, I always imagined Matt Bomer from White Collar. Despite being a prisoner of sort, he still dresses well everyday, and makes you wonder when does he find time to iron his shirt and pants and get his suits dry-cleaned.

He would still look hot with nothing on anyway, but still.

The point is, I always admired the way men dress. They can practically wear the same things everyday and nobody would judge. Or care. They can wear the staple jeans and t shirt everyday and be comfortable and happy. For myself, coordinating outfits with the right materials and colors are so annoying but somehow needed for happy life.

After being in the fashion industry for a while, I'm obsessed with the idea of having to portray my boutiques through what I wear. I am not fashionable or elegant. If I found something of the right material and cut that I like, I will wear it everyday if I can. Hell, Steve Jobs wear the same black shirt 'uniform' all the time and he's a millionaire. RIP Steve.

Why do I do this? Because the popular brands are all spearheaded by fashionable founders. Most people get into their brand because the owner/founder is very beautiful/ stylish/ fashionable/ popular/ hangs out with popular (and or) beautiful people. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with this of course. But for someone unfashionable like me, it is very tiring. Plus, I dont have any popular or stylish friends. My two closest friends are a doctor, and a lecturer. God knows why they are friends with me. But I am grateful nonetheless.

For my D'Lihah brand, I knew from the start we will not be able to compete with big brands head on. We have no connections to popular people so we only have our marketing dollars to rely on. And even that is precious few. But for that minimal resources we want to create jubahs and dresses that will be the ULTIMATE. Your one and only! How? By delivering high quality materials that do not fade, do not get damaged easily, easy to clean, to wear, to store with minimal ironing. With stitching, we deliver Made in Malaysia stitching quality where their work quality is easily monitored by us, and maintained by the factory. And with design, a simple design with a classic cut that is beautiful on everyone, in colors that will not go out of date. We always imagine a lifestyle of wearing jubah for everyday that is why you will not find excessive embellishments on them like beadings or stitched on flowers. This makes the jubahs hard to clean with washing machine you see.

But what I'm talking about is even more simple than this. I mentioned Matt Bomer and his suits because I like that simplistic clean look. Not simply achieving it by wearing the colors and cuts, but if this is your lifestyle, surely you have a lot of the same type of clothings right? And to go a step further, rather than have 10 of the same types and color of shirt, because we are trying to sell less and buy less here, wouldnt it be great if we have just 1 or 3 of those shirts? Imagine the savings on closet space!

In Malaysia, clothes are cheap cheap cheap. Foreigners might think Zara and H&M already quite cheap, but here we have even cheaper stuff that can make those brands look like Chanel-expensive (theyre not). This resulted in a closet full of low quality crap that you wear for a short time. I have stopped buying these cheap clothes long ago because it makes me feel like a fraud (I have issues). So, invest in good quality clothings that you can wear for a long time. Pick styles and cut that look good on you and wear them forever.

Yes, I am only 28 yet I was told I am too old to change. So yeah, why not just do what makes you happy?

more on this in the future!


Sunday, October 4, 2015


Im so sad. Excuse me while I bawl my eyes out.