A long time ago, a young girl in Kedah was brought by her parents to various cultural shows and art exhibitions. She also observed the artistry of Malay village life with great interest. The enchanting performances of these shows as well as the lovely handiwork and diligence of the traditional artisans left an indelible mark on her soul.
However this story began in earnest when she grew up and met and fell in love with a man from one of the most beautiful places in Malaysia. Kota Belud in Sabah is a place of gentle rolling hills, beautiful green fields, quiet beaches with unmatched sunsets, fireflies in mangrove jungles, small breath-taking islands far from the madding crowds. But more than the landscape, it was the people that captured this young woman’s heart, their gentleness, their quiet humour, and their courage and strength.
As she visited various villages in the area, she was impressed by how the women filled whatever spare time they had, after and in-between household chores and child-rearing duties, with various artisanal activities. They made beautiful, vibrant baskets and containers, to weaving intricate, complicated containers out of delicate jungle fronds, to delightful bead-work and embroidery, to working the loom day and night to weave exquisite textiles, and many others. They did all this to supplement the family’s often meagre income by selling at their weekly market in a nearby town or to customers from outside.
As the years went by and her own children were grown up, she couldn’t help but think if only there was a more tangible and useful way of showing her love for the place and the people by creating a business model that could help these local craftspeople to reach wider markets. And her vision didn’t stop there. She also wanted to widen the reach and identify other artisan communities and individuals around Malaysia, and around the region, to enable their products and stories to have a presence online as well as on other platforms.
And this was how Lawabana was born. The name itself is from the Bajau language which means Truly Beautiful. And truly beautiful it is. Just like the idea, the products and all the good people behind it.