PETALING JAYA: Abdul Muhaimin Abdul Hadi entered the job market as a graduate in fashion design during the Covid-19 pandemic and like many others, he struggled to find work.
Luckily, his friend Muhammad Harrith Hasmadi provided some much-needed distraction. He had outgrown some clothes and asked his friend if these could be repurposed.
So, Muhaimin, 27, got down to work, figuring out how to fashion old shirts into something useful. After much experimentation, he produced a number of attractive tote bags.
Thrilled with the outcome, the pair decided to post pictures of the bags on social media. “The initial response was quite overwhelming. So, we took it as a good sign,” Harrith, 25, told FMT, adding that they decided to go into business together soon after.
The young men set-up an Instagram account, created the brand name Hashadi (a portmanteau of their fathers’ names), and began selling their collections online.
“We started out with two bags, then from there we tried different things,” Harrith said.
Hashadi now offers a variety of elegant clutches and crossbody bags as well as envelope purses and heart-shaped shoulder bags all made from old fabric including denim and lace.
Each collection consists of nine bags under one umbrella concept. They can only produce limited quantities at the moment as they are a two-man show right now.
“Muhaimin does all the sewing. I give ideas and take care of the social media accounts and customers,” Harrith explained, adding that each item is truly a one-of-a-kind design.
In addition to being unique, the bags have fun names like Sayang or Rembau for ease of identification and to ensure customers receive the right order.
“First, we named them satu, dua, tiga, then our friend said that was boring! So, Muhaimin decided to give more creative names,” Harrith said.
Batik prints and songket feature heavily under the Hashadi brand, the result of Muhaimin’s passion in showcasing how these local fabrics can be made into everyday accessories that are stylish.
The best part is that the original batik and songket clothes they use in their designs are all donated and thus recycled. In this way, clothes destined for the landfill, are now repurposed and given a new lease on life.
The Hashadi initiative is not just a great way to wear a new bag but a real-world solution to an important environmental issue. “I feel like I can make an impact, we can show people that they can turn their old clothes into something useable,” Harrith said.
Besides using what he learned at fashion school, Muhaimin regularly uses YouTube as a source for ideas. “Even if you’re not a fashion student, you can actually do this,” Harrith said.
Harrith and Muhaimin extend their desire to reduce the carbon footprint of their products to the packaging as well. “We never use plastic to wrap our bags.”
Hashadi recently collaborated with students from INTEC Education College, Shah Alam for a recycling initiative. The students collected clothes and Hashadi repurposed these into bags for a fundraising effort.
The collaboration was a big success as they raised over RM1,000. A portion of the funds were donated to NGOs and charities working with the Orang Asli.
The duo said that while running a business is tough, making it sustainable during a pandemic was even tougher. While they would like to continue designing their unique blend of recycled material and culture-inspired products, they conceded that the pandemic was taking a toll on their business.
“We want to grow the team, add more people, but financially it is out of reach right now. Success for us would be selling every bag in a collection when it comes out,” Harrith said.
Whatever their challenges, Harrith and Muhaimin hope others will see them as role models.
“We from Hashadi would like to say that the first step is always the hardest. Even if you fail, it’s for you to find what works. And find people who are supportive of you. Because when you’re down you’ll need people, whether it’s for emotional support or financial support or other ways.”
Visit Hashadi on Instagram to see the full range of hand-sewn products and to place your orders.