As the landscape of social enterprise continues to grow, so too the dedication of entrepreneurs in uplifting communities and raising awareness through fair trade. Many brands today are actively striving towards becoming a force for good — one that is inclusive, meaningful and most importantly, positive for society.
This change, however, wouldn’t be successful if not accompanied by an equal shift in social consciousness and consumer attitudes.
Hence why this festive season, we would like to invite you to BUY FOR IMPACT.
Currently scouting for Christmas gifts? Below are some socially driven brands you should consider buying from! Take this chance to use your purchasing power as an individual to positively impact surrounding communities.
It’s time we think deeper about where our purchases come from and to what cause our money is contributing to. This holiday season, let’s start choosing presents with a purpose!
1. Batik Boutique
As an impact-driven and award-winning social enterprise, Batik Boutique is dedicated to empower artisans from marginalised communities. Having carved a lasting presence both locally and internationally, this enterprise has been actively working with artisans and seamstresses all across Malaysia in hand-crafting beautiful, intricately designed batik apparel, homeware and accessories.
Through their people-centric business model, they alter the circumstances of disadvantaged communities by providing employment opportunities, sustainable incomes, and skills training for them to achieve financial independence.
Beyond sewing skills, artisans are also trained in financial literacy and goal setting — an effort aligning with the enterprise’s long-term objective to prepare them for a future beyond Batik Boutique.
Shop with purpose as you browse through their site — and feel good knowing each purchase directly benefits the artisan who handcrafted the products! Each piece tells a meaningful story behind Malaysian handmade pieces that will last you a lifetime.
Help weave change in the lives of families and communities through Batik Boutique; start browsing their site today!
2. Changgih Designs
Looking for culturally inspired collections of handbags, wallets, accessories and clothing for your friends this Christmas? Head over to Changgih Designs for ornately designed products and textiles, all of which are made with utmost attention to detail whilst also honouring Sabahan culture!
From Sirung skirts, Malendu dresses, Longon Banat blouses to vibrantly coloured overthrows, Changgih captures pieces of culture and intricately blends it with present day fashion. On top of celebrating Bornean heritage, its two founders also wanted to give artisan moms an opportunity to support their families without leaving their homes.
It was for this reason that they reached out to female artisans in villages all over Sabah, working with them to produce beautiful and durable pieces whilst also providing them flexibility over their schedules.
Determined to ensure that their business pivots on empowering women and serving the community, the two founders use their brand to create jobs that provide a fair income, a safe environment and opportunities for these female artisans to grow.
With 10% of profits channelled to social impact purposes, customers can contribute towards community projects such as skills training, food bundles, disaster relief efforts and more. Be a #ChanggihFriend today by purchasing their pieces this Christmas!
Conceptualized by child’s rights advocate Deborah Henry, Fugeelah is a women-led, conscious jewellery brand that educates, employs and empowers refugee youth by providing them with a platform to make and sell their accessories. In nurturing their creativity and love for art, Fugeelah hopes to encourage refugee children to eventually pursue their dreams to a better future.
A brand with a conscience, the social enterprise is devoted to quality and dedicates itself to thoughtful sourcing, fair wages, and impactful give-back initiatives. Students are involved in all stages of the process — from learning the fundamentals of craftsmanship, quality control, design, conceptualization to business planning!
Their accessories line currently features a variety of colourful adornments, ranging from elegant freshwater pearl earrings, quartz necklaces to even eccentric, adjustable ‘Little C’ bags. Profits received are channelled towards sustaining income & upskilling opportunities for refugee youth, alongside providing access to education for over 200 refugee children at Fugee School.
Fugeelah wears the change they want to see in the world — you should too.
4. Earth Heir
With an aim to celebrate craftsmanship and uplift communities, Earth Heir as a social enterprise has been actively collaborating with over 100 female artisans and refugees in Malaysia to build sustainable livelihoods for underserved communities.
By blending design, fair trade principles, training and enterprise, Earth Heir revives heritage craftsmanship by engaging with the peoples of Malaysia to produce customised, handcrafted pieces — all of which are infused with contemporary design and sustainable practices.
Earth Heir sells products ranging from Bemban wristlet pouches, hand-embroidered necklaces, spring-coloured earrings to even bags woven using natural fibres such as mengkuang and recycled plastic. Their patterns and colours vary, but all pieces share a commonality — each piece is artfully, thoughtfully made.
Explore bracelets handwoven by the women of the Mah Meri tribe and bags inspired by indigenous Sarawakian motifs. What better way to surprise your loved ones than to gift them with timeless pieces celebrating Malaysia’s unique cultural narratives?
Shop with Earth Heir today to help support and provide income opportunities to indigenous and refugee artisans across Malaysia.
Alongside preserving traditional Sarawakian craft, Tanoti also aims to improve the lives and livelihoods of womenfolk and rural communities through the ancient art of songket weaving.
Dedicated towards the production, promotion and proliferation of hand-crafted fabrics, this continuously-growing community seeks to immortalize heritage while also helping their craftswomen develop financial independence.
Every Tanoti piece would have passed through many passionate hands; a presentation of skill and dedication. With a network of songket weavers under their wing, Tanoti provides training so the women can earn income at all stages in their lives.
One of their recent community initiatives includes The Penan Craft Project, which aims to help them turn this into a sustainable livelihood. So far, this has helped over 100 artisans in 20 remote settlements.
Committed to nurturing artisanal skills and preserving the local craft industry, Tanoti seeks to continue playing its role in activating remote villages by craft. Check out their online store for Songket table mats, Rattan totes, Pua Kumbu tapestries and more creative handiworks!
6. The Asli Co.
An impact-driven brand, The Asli Co. seeks to help Orang Asli mothers earn a sustainable living through making artisanal handicrafts and products from home. With more household income & present mothers, their wish is to increase the quality of life for Orang Asli children, and in the long term, help keep them in school.
These efforts are part of a larger, overarching aspiration — to break the poverty cycle within the community.
Some handmade items under their repertoire include colourful and eco-friendly tote bags, lavender aromatherapy eye pillows and adorable pet bandana collars! They also sell potted succulents in which the moulds are made from recycled bubble teacups, as well as handmade soap bars crafted in the form of delectable Malaysian kuihs.
Throughout the pandemic, The Asli Co. has also ramped up production of hand sanitisers and fabric face masks to help Malaysians curb the spread of the virus, as well as to provide a steady stream of income to the Orang Asli mothers during these challenging times.
Determined to create a vibrant and thriving community ecosystem, The Asli Co. hopes to continue partnering with marginalised communities and ensuring that they earn a fair and viable income. Support this cause by shopping with them this festive season!
7. SURI Lifestyle
SURI Lifestyle is a denim upcycling enterprise socially driven to empower single mothers by providing them income opportunities and skills training. Based in a community area of Sungai Udang, Klang, SURI’s vision goes beyond aiding these families financially — they also seek to provide single mothers with a safe space for growth and a chance to recollect.
Spearheaded by a single mother herself, the SURI community provides long term peer support and a sense of connectedness to their seamstresses. Coupled with training and networking, single mothers under their wing are equipped with the business and entrepreneurial skills they need to be self-reliant and independent.
Their hard work has resulted in various products ranging from oval sling bags, unique triangle pouches to more elaborate ones such as school bags and patchwork pillow cushions — all wonderfully handcrafted out of pre-loved denim materials.
Support these powerful single mothers by purchasing a SURI item this Christmas!
Based in the lush lands of Borneo, Sluvi is a Sarawakian beauty brand that empowers farmers whilst simultaneously bringing local remedies into the forefront of skincare! Their all-natural ingredients are sourced from local farmers and it include elements long-lauded for their skin brightening and eczema soothing properties. You can expect to find ingredients like rice, lemon, green tea, and aloe vera in their fantastic products.
These farmers consist of single mothers, elderly widowers and the rural unemployed — many of whom face financial difficulties sending their kids to school and providing better healthcare for their families. By offering training and an avenue for extra income, Sluvi seeks to economically mobilise communities and thus, enable them to create better livelihoods for themselves and their loved ones.
Sluvi also equips the farmers with entrepreneurial skills and educates them on sustainable farming techniques. This is to ensure that as they embark on a future beyond Sluvi, these farmers would still be able to generate income from what they farm with increased knowledge and experience. With a long-term goal of creating better farming ecosystems in Sarawakian villages, Sluvi hopes to continue improving the skills and know-how of their stakeholders.
Krayon is a homegrown social enterprise that creates recognition for the special needs community by providing them with a platform to showcase and market their creative works. By establishing an online presence for these deserving segments of our community, they strive to help them improve their livelihood and sense of self-determination.
The people on board with Krayon have unique creative talents and are currently producing various handicrafts and exceptional artworks. Now with an online retail marketplace to reach a wider audience, they are able to access greater opportunities to fully utilise their talents to create what they love.
Furthermore, Krayon also engages the corporate sector to support the Krayon community through CSR initiatives, and where possible, incorporate these creative products into their sales channels.
Some of their items include Christmas tree beaded keychains made by OKU crafter, Lan Jie as well as a cartoon t-shirt designed by a special needs child Jong Poh, who self-learned Microsoft Paint through Youtube.
Each individual in Krayon has a personal story to tell, whether it is a time-honoured cultural heritage, a personal struggle or a God-given gift – get to know them better here and see how they translate their stories into tangible pieces of art.
INKAA is a collaborative effort with grassroots organisations and artisans in Malaysia. Specialising in handmade batik and mengkuang-based items, they strive to create beautiful products while simultaneously amplifying the voices of disadvantaged communities.
Through the power of storytelling, INKAA works towards bridging the gap between customers and makers by bringing the stories of their people to the forefront.
How? All of their products come with a unique trademark — a hand sign by the maker themselves.
Through INKAA, you can discover more about the person behind the product by reading their amazing stories here. What’s more, you can even leave them a thank you note to show your appreciation! Through sharing these experiences, INKAA humanises fashion and truly hopes that the glimpses of their lives will be as inspiring for you as they were for them.
As you explore their customisable pocket tees, reversible mengkuang placemats and stylish batik pouches, know that each piece from INKAA is more than a beautiful object — it’s a statement and a promise to uplift communities that create them. Add these handcrafted and thoughtfully made items to your cart today!
Explore Our Sources
- 2021. Batik Boutique. The power of your purchase. Link
- 2021. Batik Boutique. Doing business with purpose on purpose. Link
- 2017. Pamper. Fugeelah making dreams come to life for refugee children. Link
- Hati. Tanoti Sdn. Bhd. Link
- 2020. Hong Leong Bank. HLB onboards social enterprise ‘The Asli Co’ to its CSR platform. Link
- Yellow Place. SURI Lifestyle, Klang Malaysia. Link
- 2021. Vulcan Post. Sluvi: Natural skincare social enterprise supporting B40 farmers in Borneo. Link
- 2021. Exabytes. A Malaysian social enterprise that helps reduce farmers’ poverty in Borneo. Link
- 2020. Options: TheEdge. Founders on style in the service of purpose, sustainability and tradition. Link