Nadia Hasbi, an advocate of healthy lifestyles, started Fit Rebel Company two years ago to sell her own SENI batik leggings. Her mission? To create the world’s most unique leggings for active women. ZIEMAN talks to her.
What made you set up Fit Rebel Company?
A few incidents that happened in my life that made me want to pursue this dream. My father passed away in 2012. Then in 2014, I was supposed to get married, but my fiancé called off the wedding at the last minute. I was consumed with grief and sorrow, and was at the lowest point in my life.
To overcome this, I indulged in sports — yoga, rock climbing, running, dodge ball, and weight lifting. These physical activities served as an escape. When I was exercising, I could forget about my problems and feel happy, carefree, and relaxed. As a result, I healed.
Whenever I exercised, I would wear fun and colourful attire, and I would get compliments. I did some research and found out that having fun and beautiful active wear inspires women to enjoy their workouts and train more often.
I decided that I wanted to create the most beautiful high-performance leggings in the world, and that was how the idea of SENI and Fit Rebel came about.
How did the SENI Batik leggings come about?
I wanted to create stunning designs, so I gravitated towards art and took inspiration from my Malaysian roots, I turned to batik. Combining this technique of painting to produce modern designs for trendy leggings was unique, and so SENI, which means ‘art’, was born.
What’s the process like?
We use the batik tulis (hand-drawn) technique to create the artwork. Wax is applied to the cloth using an instrument called the tjanting and colour is filled into the wax outline using fabric dye.
The artwork used on the high-performance leggings by SENI is a collaborative effort between the batik artists and the Fit Rebel team.
Together, we developed vertical designs to fit the style of leggings and flatter a woman’s body. The artists that worked on this project belong to a local community, part of the Malaysian Craft Development Corporation with over 35 years of experience.
It gives me a sense of pride and joy, knowing that women will appreciate my art across the globe. The designs are vibrant and eye-catching. With the right shoes and accessories, they can also be glammed-up for a night out with your girl pals. The fabric is a blend of the smooth and durable Lycra (Spandex).
How did you get the funding?
It was through crowdfunding. The modern crowdfunding model is generally based on three types of actors: the project initiator who proposes the project to be funded, individuals or groups who support the idea, and a moderating organisation (the “platform”) that brings the parties together to launch it.
In 2013, over US$5.1bil were raised via crowdfunding worldwide, which increased to US$16bil in 2014 and was estimated at over US$34bil in 2015. I managed to raise approximately RM22,000 (US$5,613 at the time) in 45 days through Indiegogo.
Why did you think SENI leggings would be appealing?
Patterned leggings are part of the ‘athleisure’ trend in fashion, in which clothing designed for workouts and athletic activities are worn in other settings. The idea is that gym clothes are making their way out of the gym and becoming a larger part of people’s everyday wardrobes.
The trend of wearing batik leggings should pick up with people wearing them for multiple occasions without having to change, which means greater convenience. According to a report, the athleisure market, including footwear, may grow by 30% by the year 2020.
How has the response been so far?
It has been overwhelming. The leggings are beautiful, and the product speaks for itself. Whenever my customers wear my leggings, their friends would say they love it and they want to buy my leggings too.
Any plans to expand your products?
Yes. I only have five different colours of full-length batik leggings for now. I am currently designing three-quarter leggings, targeted for release in February 2017. And, if everything goes as planned, maybe swimsuits in 2018!
What motivates you?
My customers do. It’s incredible. I care so much about my product and the well-being of my customers that I go above and beyond what you would expect. I listen to their feedback and incorporate it into my prototypes. I try to solve all their issues and what I get back in return is 10 times more.
They love my products and are my brand advocates. My customers sing praises and help me in whatever way that they can. So I really believe that when you do something with your whole heart and with the best of intentions, the universe rewards you back.
Have you always been interested in business?
I never thought I would be an entrepreneur. But exercise has been such a powerful, positive force on me, I want to inspire everyone to become more active. And my way of doing this is through my leggings.
SENI leggings are reasonably priced at RM179.00 per pair, considering that the quality is top-notch and they are hand-painted by batik artists. I believe I have found something I love doing. It just so happens that it’s in the form of a business!
Where do you sell SENI leggings?
They’re available on my website, fitrebel.com. I will have pop-up stores too, but probably only during festival times. I currently have my products at Tribeca in Bangsar Village 2, which is currently the only physical location for now.
What is your favourite past time?
Lately, it has been running. A few friends and I are taking part in the Penang Bridge International Marathon. It’s 21km, and we are training for it. I’m running 5km almost every day, 10km twice a week.
Any quotes that inspire you?
“When you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.