BY FATIHAH MANAF
The Malaysian handicraft industry also experienced a challenging period due to the pandemic. The industry relied on digital platforms to promote handicraft products to sustain the businesses.
Syarikat Pemasaran Karyaneka, a subsidiary of Malaysian Handicraft Development Corporation, an agency under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC), strives to help the affected entrepreneurs and artisans in the country amidst the pandemic.
Established in 1982, the company has grown into a leading brand representing handicraft products made in this country. It serves as a one-stop centre for premium craft products and is responsible for developing and expanding Malaysia’s craft industry through sales and marketing.
Karyaneka offers a variety of high-quality craft products ranging from wood carving, ceramic, songket, pewter, silver, anyaman (weaving) and everyone’s favourite – batik.
However, whilst Indonesians seem to be proud to wear their batik daily, it is hard to spot batik-wearers in Malaysia except on Thursday – where some organisations make it compulsory for their staff to wear it. Still, it undoubtedly is one of the most comfortable materials.
@GlamHalal browsed through Karyaneka’s craft products during the World Islamic Tourism Conference, organised by Islamic Tourism Centre at World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur (WTCKL).
Even with a subtle glance at Karyaneka’s batik prints, one can feel how much thought went into their production. The same applies to the exclusive hand-woven bags displayed during the event.
“Malaysian batik tends to be very colourful while Indonesian batik is more to earth colours. Ours are pretty vibrant and cater to all, from young children to adults, explained Karyaneka General Manager Norizmah Mustaffa.
“There are many things that can be produced from the batik. It is not limited to attire as specific designs can make other byproducts such as bags, pouches, etc.
“The price is affordable. We have different target segments, the mass market to medium and high-end consumers.
Creating awareness for craft products
Malaysian handicraft products are unique and beautiful. The designs often signify Malaysia’s rich tradition, culture and diversity. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the local craft industry was also able to sustain by adapting to new business models.
Norizmah opined that awareness creation was a critical thing to further promote batik and handicraft products in general. For the public to know the value of these crafts, continuous knowledge-sharing to these people plays an important role.
“In Karyaneka, we try to create awareness about this. We usually conduct demonstration sessions in schools and universities where we demonstrate the process of batik making, etc.
“Sometimes, we also do quizzes through our social media. For example, during the Merdeka celebration, we had this photography contest where participants expressed their ‘independence’ with Malaysian handicrafts. The contest was open to the public, so there was participation from students and others.
“If you come to our complex at Jalan Conlay, our main showroom, we have a batik demonstration. However, within the complex itself, there are various mini activities like ‘anyaman’.
“It also has ‘perkampungan artis’ (Craft Village), where people can see how artists do the drawings. Visitors can also play traditional games like Congkak and Batu Seremban there,” said Norizmah, who hoped these awareness creation efforts by Karyaneka would reach a broader range of audiences.
She stated visitors could also request a special visit to the complex for a private tour.
Surviving the pandemic
Being considered a non-essential sector, Karyaneka had to suspend its operation during the movement restriction period. All its 10 outlets had to close temporarily.
“During the pandemic, we were not allowed to operate because we fall under non-essential goods and services. So, basically what we do is we use our social media to do videos and content to create public awareness.”
However, for those interested in purchasing the products online, Karyaneka makes them available on its official website www.karyaneka.com.my.
“We are also available on MyCraftShoppe under Kraftangan Malaysia and recently Alibaba. We’re trying to reach the international market. Slowly but surely.
“Normally, when we have campaigns, we will share with Kraftangan Malaysia, and they will forward them to MOTAC. Then, MOTAC will share with other agencies. So, they will help with the promotion as well.
“But now that we can operate again, we try to participate with outdoor activities by opening booths like the one you may see today and another one in the Parliament. I’m also talking to ministries other than MOTAC to create awareness.”
Norizmah then shared some things Karyaneka wished to highlight in their products. Since there’s an awareness campaign on wearing batik, she hoped to promote their batik further, revealing that the product was one of the hottest selling items.
“Now we have a campaign. We offer rebate vouchers. With every RM100 purchase, you will get an instant rebate of RM30 off. It means you will only have to pay RM70. On top of that, we have another five per cent discount in addition to that. But it’s limited.”