PETALING JAYA: Raya has always been a family affair with Muslims catching up with relatives and those near and dear, so it only made sense for entrepreneur Faizulniza Puzi to start getting her beloved cats involved as well.
Last year’s Raya was particularly memorable for Faizulniza, 37, when guests at her open house exchanged pleasantries and hellos with her three Baju Melayu-clad cats for the official family group picture.
Faizulniza recalled how some of her friends were over the moon to see her dolled up fur-lines all “matching-matching” with her family – though they weren’t dressed for the whole day; just when guests dropped by.
Faizulniza runs one-stop centres for cats in Perak under the Geli Geli Kucing Taiping brand, where felines are pampered with grooming and boarding services. The Raya outfits for cats are sold at her main shop.
Choose from the Batek Ramlee design for male cats (RM49) or the Kebaya Saloma collection for female cats (RM59) – or dress your cats in both! It’s not like they will actually know the difference, right?
The designs, which are selling like hotcakes, come with the option of short or long sleeves and with a wide neckline or a collared top. You can also opt for a songkok to really get your cats in the Raya spirit.
Don’t worry about size if your cat is slightly on the heavier side of the scale; Geli Geli Kucing is making it a purrrfect Raya for all! Choose from small to extra large and from a variety of colours too for all designs.
“As our motto says, cats are our family,” Faizulniza told FMT recently. “So we wanted to sort of remind people to treat their cats like they are part of the family, especially during Raya or the holidays.”
Everyone gets excited about wearing new clothes and having a good meal during Raya, she added. “And we thought, ‘Why not let the cats have the same experience? Let them celebrate too with us’.”
So Faizulniza got down to designing the Raya outfits last year. She laughed as she recalled getting the cats ready for the photoshoot. Some of them needed to be calmed down first. Others weren’t posing the right way.
“At the time, we only had the Baju Melayu,” she added. “This year, we have kurtas as well. For Chinese New Year, we had Cheongsam and Samfu sets. And now we’re thinking of new designs too.”
Family is certainly a key aspect of everything Faizulniza does for her cats. Prior to Raya last year, she met a mother who had a talent for tailoring and promptly roped her in to sew the cats’ Raya outfits.
Faizulniza, an engineer by profession, quit her job in 2012 and in the following year, opened her first Geli Geli Kucing branch in Taiping. Seven years on, she is the proud owner of three booming shops.
She started her business after finding it a struggle to balance her career with caring for her three kids. Her husband, at the time, was furthering his studies in the UK. She was based here.
“My husband is also a cat lover and I noted there were no pet shops specifically for cats so I thought, ‘why not open my own business?’ I was a housewife taking care of my kids so I was quite free.”
Faizulniza started the cat-specific business for Muslims who felt uncomfortable frequenting pet shops with dogs on its premises as well.
She also noted that most places offering lodging services for cats kept the animals in cages the entire time their owners were away. She was determined to change this.
Faizulniza currently has about 40 cats under her care, three of them in-house cats and the rest in her three shops. This however, is a far cry from her experience with cats 10 odd years or so ago.
“Before I started my business, I was terrified of cats,” she recalls, laughing. “And it was not until petting a cat for the first time that my perception of them changed.”
That’s where Geli Geli Kucing got its name; it was based on her own “squeamish” experience dealing with felines. Of course, from there on, her experience with cats took a 180-degree turn for the better.
Faizulniza isn’t stopping here though. She plans to expand her business to the Klang Valley. Her products are already doing well overseas, with regular clients from Oman, Singapore and Brunei.
This year, some 5,000 orders came in for the Raya cat outfits, way above the 1,000 sets she had ready. It was much the same last year: only 250 outfits but orders for 2,000.
Feeling a tremendous sense of pride in showcasing Malaysian culture to the rest of the world, Faizulniza plans on making the Raya outfits a permanent addition to the Geli Geli Kucing stores and not just during the Raya season.
Here’s wishing Faizulniza all with best with her Geli Geli Kucing business for many years to come.