These mothers are sewing a better life with batik

Batik is changing the lives of women in urban poor communities in Malaysia.

It started as a friendship between two women from vastly different backgrounds: — Amy Blair, an expat from the United States, and Kak Ana, a single mother in Malaysia who was teaching her Bahasa Melayu.

After realising that Ana could sew fabric into beautiful clothing and scarves, Amy was inspired to open Batik Boutique in 2013.

The social enterprise produces batik clothing, gifts, scarves and pouches. It aims to provide a fair and sustainable income for women living in poor, urban conditions in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. To date, they have trained around 29 seamstresses, 10 of whom are now earning a sustainable income.

Most parents dream of seeing their kids succeed in life. But for many living in poverty, this remains unattainable.

For Kak Noor, a mother of seven, her living standards have improved since working at Batik Boutique. She says, “Now that I have a job, I have my own income...I am able to help the family.”

Despite their cultural differences, the bond between Amy and the seamstresses runs deep. They also share something universal; motherhood. As Amy puts it, “Maybe we don’t wear the same clothes, or eat the same food...but at the end of the day...I want what’s best for my children, and they equally want what’s best for their children.”

It is also this mindset that has made working conditions for the women more family-friendly. The sewing centre, located where the women live, has child care, which allows the women to work without worrying about their children or travel arrangements.

Munirah, a Batik Boutique seamstress and mother of two, had no sewing skills initially. But after training, she is one of the highest earners in the company.

She is also teaching her daughter to sew, and on a deeper level, her daughter is witnessing her success too.

Amy says, “When you impact the life of a mother, you are impacting the life of the next generation.”


Find out more about Batik Boutique, and purchase their products to empower the lives of women and low-income families in Malaysia.

About Batik Boutique

Batik Boutique is a social enterprise in Malaysia that hires low-income women to sew apparel and other lifestyle products, made from batik created by artisan families. It currently works with 150 artisans, and it has also trained 29 seamstresses.

Contributors

Filmmaker

Upneet Kaur-Nagpal

Producer

Grace Baey

Executive Producer

Von Tan

Executive Producer

Denise Oliveiro