By Azaree Atan
Think beauty pageant, and Miss Universe or Miss World will come to your mind, right! Well, guess what Pia Alonzo Wurstbach and Aishwarya Rai... Move along, because a Singapore woman had beaten 10 other contestants to win an international competition for plus size beauties.
"Tan Si Mi", as the contest's Facebook page named her, took the crown at Miss Top of the World Plus Size, held in Latvia on Saturday, 9th June 2016. Miss Tan was seen wearing what seems to be – a mermaid-inspired white silver-sequined gown with a flowing translucent bottom when she was announced the winner.
Personally, I think she looks amazing in all her dresses she wore during the pageant but I believe she could have had a better choice of dress to best compliment all her curves. But hey, I wouldn’t blame her because there isn’t many fashion clothing that cater to plus-size woman and even when there is one, the cutting of the clothes and fitting do not compliment plus-size woman voluptuous figure.
So fret not my ladies, you are in for a treat. Recently, a very dear friend of mine, Wahidah and her best friend, Fadliena, launched their plus-size fashion label called Karamel by FW. Simple yet elegant and clever design is what stands out from Karamel clothes (just see from the pictures to believe it)!
Are you feeling intrigues about Karamel? Read on for bookuu’s exclusive interview with Karamel founders.
bookuu: The brand, Karamel, so sweet lah! Now, every brand has a story, what's Karamel?
Firstly, we wanted to have our identity incorporated in our brand name. What kind of identity you ask? It is our skin color. As weird as it sounds, we are proud to be who we are especially representing the Malay community - thus the color Caramel had been chosen to describe the our tone of skin.
Hmm, we might be judge for this but, we are still gonna share with you anyways because we are not afraid to stand for what we believe in. The alphabet 'K' to spell our brand 'Karamel', has been inspired by the Kardashian sisters. But wait, before we get bashed for being shallow minded, trust me, we are not. We happen to be avid viewers of their reality show and we love how smart and hardworking they are when it comes to managing their business.
So with that, Karamel has been proudly formed!
bookuu: I must say, it's a bold move! What's aspire you to design a fashion label for plus size women?
Fadliena: Being a plus size individual myself, I find it really hard to get clothes outside which fits my body size like a glove. Based on my observation when I shop, most of the clothes out there do not have a nice cut to fit a plus size body. The typical cut would be too loose and has that flabby look - which doesn’t helps to make us look good but instead makes us look bigger and unkempt.
There are some online sellers whom I respect for going through the hassle of evaluating each piece of apparel that they are reselling so as to allow the curvy ladies to look good in it, which will immediately boost their confidence when they are in the outfit. However, there are some sellers too who are in it just for the money. I personally feel that’s a really sad thing to do.
Wahidah: As for me, I represent the mothers out there who have gone through physical change after giving birth. We are not as lucky as some women, who manage to shed those weight gained during pregnancy, effortlessly. I feel u girl.
We fall in the in-between category, not petite yet not plus-size, like Britney Spears song, not a girl, not yet a woman.
In addition, after giving birth, I had trouble looking for clothes that fit me well too, sometimes the top fits, but the bottom don't. It's always a dilemma, to buy a size bigger, but it will make me look shabby, or to buy a size that fits the top half well, but the bottom part is struggling to stay in. Like the saying goes, #thestruggleisreal ladies! Haha!
With all that said, these reasons had aspire us to design a fashion label for curvy ladies like us We wanted to do this so that we will really be able to cater to the curvy ladies to have something to wear for them to feel good and proud in!
bookuu: Now, I'm sure you didn't get the clothes off from somewhere else and resell it. So who is the designer and where do you ladies get your inspirations?
Yes, our clothing has been made from scratch - right from the designing to choosing the fabrics. We had to go through many rejections of samples from a few tailors and suppliers. As the saying goes, two heads are better than one.
Usually, both of us will brainstorm our ideas together on the type of clothing that we want to have. We will literally list down our ideas on what we want the clothing to focus on or represent. We will then have some of our sketches (which by the way, has been always drawn in a baddd manner, as we are not artist lah. Haha!) sent to the suppliers who will then painstakingly draw it out again for us. We are highly inspired by Tess Holiday – she dresses so amazingly well!
bookuu: I've heard it took you ladies a long period of time to put the brand and products together. How long and what took you so long?
It took us about two years to finally launch our brand and MAKE IT WORK! We have had our fair share of suppliers who promised us the moon but delivered shabby quality. That itself takes A LOT of our time.
In between of such, we have our own families and career to focus on. Wid then got pregnant and delivered TWICE to such handsome boys! But we don’t regret a single bit of those rough times. We finally get to where want to now and we cannot be happier with the current quality given by our supplier!
bookuu: Ok ok... last question! What can #karamelistar (fans of Karamel) expect in the future.
We will continue to provide our #Karamelistar with the best of quality and personalised service. We strongly believe that every lady out there deserves to look her best and that includes our curvy dolls! No one should ever be compromised of fashion. We hope to continue to be loved by our curvy dolls and we promise to give back the love to every single one of you out there. XOXO!
Miss Tan Si Mi reportedly told Shin Min Daily News, despite that her weight had caused her to have a poor self-image many times, she began to realise that inner confidence and attitude were more important than looking slim like those of Victoria Secret angels. And I applaud her for her for that. You go girl!
So my dear plus size ladies, don’t be shy to flaunt your curves and be bold to be yourself. Bring out the fashionista in you. Remember, when you think plus size, think Karamel!
Do check out their website at http://www.karamelbyfw.com for amazingly chic plus size dresses and of course their latest E:ID 2017 collection.
By Azaree Atan
It is the question that everyone have been asking me - "Azaree, what took so long for bookuu to RELAUNCH?"
It wasn't a rocket scientist kind-of-question, but it sure took me long enough to find the right reasons and explained myself. After many years of deep thoughts, I figured, that relaunching was a bad idea because I wasn't sure whether to do a complete wholesale change of bookuu, as a company or its product, inside and out, including name, concept, design and all that entails with no connections to the legacy entity, to something less dramatic and of a more evolutionary nature. I didn't dare to take the risk back then.
Of course, naturally, all these changes that I had in mind, was locked away for quite some time, due to work commitments & financial feasibility to raise capital or getting investment to get bookuu going (a huge thank you to a special someone, you know who you are!).
After a long while (once again due to work commitments, and a little lazying around), I received another call from Lully Selb about a month ago for another collaboration. Just like that, in an instance, maybe, I felt that a relaunch this time was at its best and at whatever degree, I wanted the relaunch to affect a change in the minds of the target audience in terms of their perceptions of bookuu brand. That change needed a process of giving bookuu and its products an entirely new image in order to make it more successful.
In addition, me and one of my few trusted best friend, Suhailah, decided to catch-up over coffee and we talk, and talk and talk, and girl... we sure talk almost till late night! In between our exciting conversations (including some gossips), we talk about business, and suddenly it rang a bell, that both of us, had actually planned (not so long time ago) to do business together. I needed someone who is able to provide me with the right focus and direction to push bookuu; relive its success and move forward to a brighter future. Suhailah double majors in Business Management & Law and is creatively strong like me (and I must say, gorgeous lady too!). We have so much in common and drive to relaunch bookuu. So naturally, she is a good choice to be my business partner for bookuu.
Fast forward... 25 days later of brainstorming for new designs and sourcing of materials - here we are, a brand new website to showcase bookuu latest products - our signature handmade notebooks and bags. There wasn't a room for error, regrets and definitely no turning back! Oh, I'm so proud of it and blessed to have a business partner like Suhailah, and friends like Lully Selb to work with and bring bookuu back alive together.
As the wise business man, Alfred A Montapert, puts it, "All lasting business is built on friendship!"
My friends... That is why I took so long to relaunch Bookuu.
P.S Do check out LullySelb #blog at http://lullyselb.com/blogs/news on how they got the name - 'BLNK CNVAS' for their 1st Year Anniversary Party!