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Nadia Nizamudin

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Kooshboo is slowly taking the Malaysian market by storm with its statement t-shirts, ikat prints and classic yet contemporary designs.

The brand is the brainchild of two sisters, Natasha (dressed in black) and Natalia Navin. They wanted to fill a gap in the Malaysian market for kids-wear with well-tailored, simple designs made from natural fabrics.

Natasha, who now fully runs the brand, was an architect before; while Natalia who is a lawyer, provides business input where and when it is needed.

We caught up with Natasha to find  out the exact inspiration behind the brand and how the sisters evolved into ethically conscious entrepreneurs.

Q: Tell us a bit about the Kooshboo brand.

A:  I would say Kooshboo is a homegrown lifestyle brand that does Boho Chic wear. It is also an eco-conscious and ethically produced brand.

We started with kids-wear and recently added women’s wear to the line, due to the demand for it.

We will also be introducing our homeware collection soon.

Kooshboo uses only natural fabrics and aims to provide simple but well tailored designs

Q: What was the inspiration behind Kooshboo?

A: There were many factors that contributed to how Kooshboo was created.  I would say it has always been our dream to start our own business. We just didn’t know what it would be.

We grew up wearing beautiful, lovingly made clothes by our grandmother and mom. They were in all these soft, natural fabrics.

When we had kids of our own, we wanted the same thing for them. But we found clothes in the market to be boring, had no character, and were cheaply made.

We wanted something simple, yet still well designed. Thus, Kooshboo was born.

Natasha and Natalia in clothing made by their grandmother

Q: Tell us more about this picture!

A: These dresses which we wore were actually sewn by our maternal grandmother (a Malaysian) who was the best tailor in our kampung in Kuala Pilah. She used to follow all the English classic designs from the pattern books she owned.

We used to wear these matchy-matchy outfits all the time, even when we visited India. Kids there would envy them.

Q: We have been a fan of Kooshboo for a while and just love your use of natural materials. Can you tell us more about them?

A: We knew from the start that our line would utilise natural fabrics like cotton, silk and linen. We wanted something that would be weather-friendly and natural fabric definitely does that, with its moisture wicking properties.

When we were kids, we went to India often because we have family members there. India’s penchant for cheerful and bright colours in wonderfully soft and flowy textiles became Kooshboo’s signature style.

It was no surprise because we were exposed to the culture from young. What’s more, there were cotton fields close to where we stayed in India.

The vibrant colours and intricate details found in the fabrics and outfits in India became especially alive during weddings. In this picture here, we were attending my cousin’s wedding.

We were in our late teens or early 20s. Perhaps this was when we told ourselves we need to bring back some of these wonderful treasures back to Malaysia – but in a fresh and current way.

Q: Kooshboo has been one of the vocal voices in the #whomademyclothes movement, where fashion brands provide transparency in their manufacturing process. What made Kooshboo decide to be a part of it?

A: Just like in choosing the fabrics, the awareness has always been there. When looking for my kids clothing, I wondered, ‘Why are they so cheap?’

While developing Kooshboo I read up and learned about the movement and about ethical fashion. It appealed to me and the brand ethos so much.

I started to look through our process to see what aspects of the movement could be applied.

One of the measures we took was to outsource some of the work to refugees.

I have always loved rosettes on my dresses, and we couldn’t cope with the demands of making them ourselves when the brand grew.

We found a mother-daughter pair from Syria to work on our rosettes and it was a win-win situation for us. We also work with this lady from Palestine, who makes our wonderful crocheted hairclips.

I love the fact that even though they get paid for the work, they love doing them and are really proud of their handicraft. I love that they get to support their family while doing something they like. The benefits go both ways and that makes me happy.

Q: What is Kooshboo’s process from design to dress?

A: The first and best part is the idea and inspiration for a new line or collection. This is followed by choosing the fabrics. Our fabrics are either from India or Malaysia.

The fabric for our latest Raya collection was sourced from India. I have been wanting to do ikat prints for the longest time. Next, we manage sampling and grading which is very important to us.

The production then starts, and this then leads to the branding and marketing of the new collection.

Q: How does Kooshboo ensure that the brand remains relevant in the world of ethical fashion?

A: There are many aspects to touch on and many definitions to the term ethical fashion. Instead of being overwhelmed by them, we decided to incorporate into our brand the things we could do. For instance, ensuring that our line is not mass produced.

We currently work with an awesome sewing contractor whose working principles echo ours: their staff are paid full wages, and are all local.

We also try to create awareness among our customers, letting them know that a lot of meaning and love went into the pieces they bought from us.

I was recently on the panel for the Fashion Revolution Malaysia discourse (hosted by the wonderful Earth Heir’s Sasibai Kimis) talking about Kooshboo’s process and promise of ethical conscious fashion.

Every single thing we do for Kooshboo comes with the questions: How is this ethical? How do we make it transparent? And whatever we can do with it, we would share on our social media for awareness.

Natasha as a panel speaker for Fashion Revolution Malaysia’s event.

Q: If Kooshboo could dress a local mom-daughter pair, who would they be?

A: I love this question! I’ve definitely thought about it and the answer is: Aishah Sinclair and her girls. Aishah was one of our earliest customers when we were selling at Pasar Seloka Raya and she was really nice and warm.

Since then she has supported us right up to our recent Raya collection. We would totally love to dress her and her kids up in Kooshboo.

To me she embodies what a Kooshboo woman is: she is a tree hugger and an environmentalist; she is active and also a loving mom.

Photos by Natasha Navin.

Many parents would like to look for natural remedies for their families when they are under the weather. Makchic talks to naturopath Amanda Teh about the concept of natural remedy and how it can benefit the whole family. 

How did you get started on your journey?

20 years ago my father was diagnosed with nasal cancer.  Back then information was limited and we were left depending fully  on doctors.  I am not saying Western medication is wrong, we were frustrated at his lack of progress.  No one told us that cancer patients can improve their quality of life without having to be stuck on drugs.  After his passing I felt at a loss and felt like  I  should do something to come full circle with the feeling of hopelessness.  That was when I decided to quit my job as a Java programmer to delve deeper into treating cancer or its symptoms naturally. I studied at Nature Care College for a 5-year degree and the rest is history.

Amanda during her study at the Nature Care College

How is this different than homeopathy?

Naturopath is a complete lifestyle treatment system with a medical background. It doesn’t just treat the symptoms but also looks at how we can help manage our patients’ quality of life. During the consultation alone we would spend 1-2 hours going through patient’s physical symptoms, medical records, stress markers, also mental health. The remedies can be in a form of supplements, Bach flower remedies, probotiocs, etc. Our treatment also goes hand in hand with the medical field – if we feel it is necessary, we would refer you to a hypnotist, a chiropractor, or a dietician.

Is the treatment effective, especially for kids and babies?

Most definitely. As naturopaths ensure the wellbeing of patients, mothers can continuously keep up their kids’ immune system using natural treatments from their own kitchen. Natural medicine is best for children above the age of 1 as there are some herbs/natural food that are unsuitable for babies.

How would a naturopath suggest mothers treat these ailments for their families?

Runny nose/phlegm: 

  • For the common cold, eucalyptus/peppermint oil diffused or rubbed on chest (diluted in coconut or olive oil). Only for kids 2 years and above, and always watch the dosage.
  • For babies below 2, Amanda suggests a salt water spray, and to introduce probiotics to speed up the healing.
  • Onion soup is good as it contains quercetin, which is anti-inflammatory and helps to loosen up the mucus.
  • Chopped onion left besides the bed (in the room) also helps with congestion.

Fever: 

  • Fever is a normal immune reaction and is also part healing process; we want to facilitate the symptoms, not suppress it. However, always monitor the temperature, observe the symptoms and make sure the child is active.
  • Place a cool, damp washcloth on your child’s forehead while she rests.
  • Lots of fluid, like coconut water.
  • Drink a cup of hot ginger tea, which also induces sweating and brings down the temperature. Alternatively, Roselle tea, which is high in Vitamin C, also helps to boost the immune system and speed up healing. To make the tea, steep a half-teaspoon minced ginger root in 1 cup just-boiled water. Strain, then drink.

Constipation: 

  • No sugar-added prune juice is great for kids.
  • Introduce some good fat : Avocado, chia seeds, flaxseeds (ground) in their food – for kids older than 1 year.
  • Smoothies: Dragon fruit/ Pear/Apple + Oats + Chia (Soaked in the fridge overnight)
  • Withholding is a common problem, so train the children to go to toilet at the same time everyday.
  • Watch out for any food intolerances or food sensitivities, such as to dairy, wheat and gluten.

Diarrhoea: 

  • Up the fluid intake, such as with Chamomile tea/Fennel tea
  • Applesauce and bananas are high in pectin which helps to absorb the excessive fluid and reduce the diarrhea
  • Carob  is high in tannin (which helps to stop the diarrhoea), tastes awesome and is easily incorporated in your food
  • Cut out dairy, wheat and gluten from diet, introduce more liquids, such as soup and water

Stomach flu:

  • Use propolis and probiotics to deal with the infection
  • Manuka Honey with antiseptic properties (above 1 year)
  • Chamomile or fennel or ginger tea is great for stomaches  and to reduce  bloating

Eczema: 

  •  For temporary relief of eczema,  run a calendula or oat bath: put calendula or oat in a stocking and apply it on the skin in the bathtub.
  • Keep a spray bottle filled with chamomile tea and spray on affected skin. Alternatively, try an oatmeal bath, in which you soak the oat in water, strain the oats, and use the water to bathe your baby in. It helps soothe itchy skin.

 

Want to know more natural remedies? Purely B is running a special early bird promotion and giveaway for their Natural Home Program until September 9th. The online program is 100% natural, with plant-based tried and tested home remedies using simple ingredients that you can find in your kitchen. It is currently going for RM69 instead of the usual RM199, and you stand to win a wellness retreat in Fiji Islands or Bali worth USD$6000 with your purchase. Head on to Purely B’s Natural Home Pharmacy page to find out more!

 

Medical Disclaimer: Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or ailment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on websites.

Every year on April 2nd, the world celebrates the love of reading with the International Children’s Book Day. A movement initiated by International Board of Books for Young People, traditionally, the day is celebrated in schools and with library programs to nurture the love of reading in students and kids.

Makchic talks to four Malaysian authors  – who are also mummies – on the books they loved reading growing up, and the books they now read to their kids.

Bernice Chauly

Photo by Daniel Adams, from bernicechauly.com

Bernice Chauly is no stranger to the literary scene and creative circles in Malaysia. This Penang-born writer and poet wears different hats in Malaysia’s cultural scene – she photographs, acts, and makes films – but her love for the written word is unmistakable. Known for her award-winning memoir ‘Growing up with Ghosts’, she is also the founder and director of KL Writers Workshop.

Did you have a bedtime routine of reading stories with your kids?

My daughters are 21 and 16 now, but I started reading to them when they were days old. I started buying books for them very early on and amassed a huge collection over the years. I would sit with them in bed, get comfortable and then read. Sometimes I would read in funny voices, ad lib, and add flourishes of my own. They both loved it. I would also sometimes make stories up and retell fairy tales. They were very demanding at times, so it was hard work!

 What were your favourite books when you were a kid?

I was a voracious reader from a young age and my mother said that I never really played with toys, but books instead. I remember reading the Peter and Jane series, almost everything ever written by Enid Blyton, Beano and Dandy comics, Tin Tin, and then I moved to the classics. My mother would force me to read some really dense books, like the Fountainhead by Ayn Rand when I was 12! War and Peace, Exodus by Leon Uris and I moved on to Dickens, the Bronte sisters, George Eliot and more in my early teens.

I read almost every volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, the Bobbsey Twins, the NST every Sunday, which had a huge pullout section of comics, lots of Mills and Boons, teen mags, everything I could lay my hands on really. My parents had an extensive library, so I read a lot. I was happiest when I was sitting with a book.

Can you tell us your favourite children’s books?

My daughters’ favourite books were Goodbye Moon, The Snowman (Raymond Briggs) and Where The Wild Things Are.


Shamini Flint

Picture: Shamini Flint

Shamini Flint started her writing career by publishing her own children’s books, a series of adventures based on her own daughter Sasha. Previously a lawyer, this mother of two then worked on her crime fiction series Inspector Singh Investigates. Inspector Singh Investigates is now published in many languages around the world, and is currently on its seventh series.

Did you have a bedtime routine of reading stories with your kids?

My kids are a bit older now but we still have a sort of routine in that I expect them to read for a while before lights out at night. My son is currently reading To Kill a Mockingbird (slowly!) and my daughter who has become interested in politics recently is reading What Happened by Hillary Clinton. When they were toddlers and young children, we read a bunch of stories every night and in fact, that was the genesis of the Sasha series of picture books which began my writing career. It was making me insane that there were so few quality books featuring Asian kids or Asian environments.

 What were your favourite books when you were a kid?

Growing up in Kuantan, without a library or a bookshop, my choice was limited so I read everything I could get my hands on. Aside from the usual Enid Blyton and classics like Heidi, my favourite book when I was a child was The Hobbit. Before that, I don’t think I had conceived of the possibility of such complete worlds of the imagination.

Can you tell us your favourite children’s books?

Boy Overboard – Morris Gleitzman

The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll


Heidi Shamsuddin

Picture from: heidishamsuddin.com

A former lawyer and restaurant owner, Heidi Shamsuddin is an award-winning author of both adult and children’s books. She won the Eye Level Children’s Literature award in 2012 and her children’s books – a series called The Door Under The Stairs – weaves tales rich with Malaysian’s historical figures and personalities. She also recently completed a YA novel set on Mt Kinabalu and is working on her second novel inspired by the folktales of this country.

Did you have a bedtime routine of reading stories with your kids?

Yes, with all my kids I started reading them stories ever since they were babies. This started literally on the first day we took them home from the hospital. I usually read a story or I make one up and tell it to them just before bedtime.

 What were your favourite books when you were a kid?

I loved fairy tales of course and we had a big beautiful book of fairy tales which my father gave to us when I was around six-years- old. When I was a bit older my favourite book was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I also enjoyed reading the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery.

Can you tell us your favourite children’s books?

For very young children (under the age of five) I would recommend picture books by Oliver Jeffers which are funny and entertaining with beautiful illustrations. I also love ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ by Maurice Sendak.

For middle-grade readers (ages 8 -12 years old), I would recommend the Narnia books by C.S Lewis and all the books by Roald Dahl. If they are interested in Malaysian stories, I would of course recommend my books, ‘The Door Under the Stairs Series’ which is about three time-travelling Malaysian kids.

For slightly older kids, I would recommend ‘Fire and Hemlock’ by Diana Wynne Jones. I love this coming of age story because of the deep layers built into the story which incorporates fairy tales and legends. It’s also quite a personal story about the relationship we have with our family. It’s a beautifully written book which has much to offer.


Lydia Teh

Picture: Lydia Teh

Lydia Teh is a household name in the local writing scene. Many would know her through her regular theSun’s column, Tete-a-Tete, and her famous book, Honk! If You’re Malaysian, and more recently, How I Wrote 10 Books. She wrote her first book at the age of 39, while raising 4 kids, and now runs an English language center on top of writing for the newspaper and local magazines.

Did you have a bedtime routine of reading stories with your kids?

Yes. After they have brushed their teeth and changed into their PJs, we would snuggle down in bed to read. We read children’s books and bible stories. They also liked to listen to stories such as the Three Little Pigs which were retold with watermelons, papayas and durians as building materials.

What were your favourite books when you were a kid?

Anything by Enid Blyton. The book which started it off was The Naughtiest Girl in School. I enjoyed the Famous Five and Secret Seven series.

Can you tell us your favourite children’s books?

I discovered Roald Dahl as an adult and introduced them to my children. Two of my favourites are James and the Giant Peach and The Big Friendly Giant.