From small beginnings in Gedong, songket shines on global stage

Ramtiniwaiti says the invitation from Nadi to represent the country meant a lot to her. — Bernama

NEVER in her wildest dreams did she think that the songket she weaves in her hometown of Gedong, Sarawak, will one day help her travel the world.

But that is exactly how it turned out for Ramtiniwaiti Ramlee, 38, who started crafting the traditional Malaysian handwoven fabric in her early 20s.

She was in Barcelona, Spain, to represent the country and the National Information Dissemination Centre (Nadi) that had helped shape her songket business into a meaningful enterprise.

Shocked but honoured, the award-winning Nadi entrepreneur said the invitation from the centre to represent the country meant so much to her.

“Before this, I won the best Nadi entrepreneur award in Sarawak,” she said.

“And after that, I was invited to participate in the programme here.

“I am grateful to Nadi, which falls under the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), for allowing me to further develop my product in Barcelona and for helping entrepreneurs like me.”

Ramtiniwaiti shared her thoughts with Bernama at the Nadi booth at the Malaysian Pavilion at the Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2024.

Songket, dubbed Ratu Kain in Malay weaving, is woven using a kek – a traditional, two-pedal floor loom.

The final product is a delicate fabric, often the result of months of skilled handloom weaving by expert artisans.

The traditional woven fabric has been listed under the Unesco’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Recalling her early days of weaving, Ramtiniwaiti said her business started with only a small team of friends from the community around her home.

It was after she engaged with Nadi that her business began to grow.

“I learned to make songket in 2006, and then I looked for experience in weaving skills.

“Starting around 2014, I started making it myself and selling it.

“After I met Nadi around 2018, I began operating on a large scale.

“From 2019, we meet up regularly, discussing how to understand the market and I followed some of the training that Nadi carried out at that time.”

Prior to Nadi, Ramtiniwaiti, who owns Seri Gedong Songket, said she only sold her products at stores in Gedong, Serian and Kuching, and would generate monthly sales of less than RM8,000 because of the small market reach then.

“But after getting to know Nadi, I saw that we could make many more products.

“And right now, I can make about RM20,000 a month from sales.

“I have 15 workers of my own, and I also help the community earn wages by making songket,” she said, adding that her sales had not only reached the peninsula but also overseas, including Singapore, England and Canada.

Thanking Nadi and the MCMC, Ramtiniwaiti said she hoped that her presence in Barcelona would help reach other parts of the world.

“Going forward, I hope that I can market the products across Malaysia and around the world,” she said.

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