“This is so you, Carol”, my friend Miriam said as we entered the Frankitas gallery in Damansara Heights. And I do think she is right.
I don’t really remember when my love for tribal (actual tribal patterns – not the ones you score in F21) and traditional cloth started. But it has turned into a bit of an obsession. I remember my first piece (that I bought) being a T’nalak skirt from the T’boli tribe in South Cotabato, Philippines. The T’nalak is literally made out of dreams as the weavers have to dream of the patterns they use before turning them into a woven masterpiece.
Stories like these make traditional fabric much more meaningful – that’s why I fall in love with them over and over. And you know what? I’m extremely happy that I am not alone in this love affair.
I met Francisca “Franki” Turner-Shaik at the media launch for her brand Frankitas. She uses traditional, woven fabric from all over the world, turning them to pieces that are fit for the modern-day woman. She is creative and has so much passion for the art of weaving and helping out the weavers. I loved her right away! 😉
“Tas” is the Malay (and Dutch!) word for “bag”. Add that to Franki’s name and you get the catchy title for her business. However, Franki is not limited to giving consumers with just bags and clutches. Frankitas is so much more as they can even provide you with scarves and accents for your home.
Franki was born to an Indonesian mother and a British father. She admits to loving the simple, kampung (village) life. She is also a well-traveled individual so it is really no surprise that she’s become so passionate with what people and culture from different parts of the world can offer.
In this day and age where almost everything you want or need can be mass produced and easily acquired, Franki reintroduces quality, authenticity, and individuality with her unique pieces.
Franki’s quest for exquisite, ethnic fabric has taken her to Malaysia, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, and even as far as Africa. And there’s no stopping her. 😉 I told her about our own tribes in the Philippines and she is even interested to check them out! She is a believer that a beautiful piece of fabric should never go to waste and that the people who took the effort to make them should be properly compensated and recognised for their art.
At this point, I have to admit that I had to stop myself from hugging her during the event when she said that. YES. The weavers themselves who take the time and effort to make the beautiful patterns are almost never heard of.
So it’s just awesome that there are people like Franki who are helping them preserve such a traditional way of making ethnic fabric by making it more accessible to the fashionable women of today. She’s also telling people about the history of the fabric, who’s making them, and how they are made – the gruelling process that takes between 5 to 22 days just to make such a beautiful, handcrafted piece.
Imagine if we all just supported mass produced items. Their small, weaving industries will end up dying out in time. And that’s just sad, isn’t it? It’s an actual part of a country’s culture!
After the weaving process, Franki also brings the fabric to a network of seamstresses from kampungs to turn them into the bags, clutches, and other items she has designed. Her business is definitely helping a lot of people.
Am I being too passionate about the topic already? 😛 Truth is, I do feel strongly about supporting weavers and keeping their art alive. I even wear and incorporate Filipino ethnic clothing to my outfits and would rather opt for tribal clothes than the well-known butterfly-sleeved dresses as Filipiniana to diplomatic events – so I can spread awareness about their art. People like Franki give me so much hope that the tradition of weaving will not die down as long as they keep their passion for it alive! 😀
Oh, and did I mention that Frankitas also has a collection of ethnic jewellery?
From the ikat to the songket, the batik, and the rang rang, Franki churns out functional yet extremely fashionable pieces. I am in love with them and looking forward to seeing (and getting my hands on) more of her designs.
Seriously – how many times can you tell someone you meet at a diplomatic event an amazing story about the clutch you are holding? How it holds so much history, how it helped keep a part of a country’s culture alive, and how it’s more than just a clutch? It’s actually a piece of art!
I have my own Frankitas and I am in love with it and the story it comes with! I do think that everyone should have at least one piece that holds a bit of heritage in it. 😀
Want your own Frankitas? Pick a design or have one especially made for you. 😀 Set up an appointment at Franki’s gallery by calling:
+6017 378 7070
Her gallery is located at:
21, Jalan Setiabistari, Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur
Like the Frankitas Facebook page or stalk her designs on Instagram. Been doing that since the event since I’m looking for gifts to a couple of friends. 😉
Just in case you’re not in Malaysia, Frankitas also has representation in Singapore, the Maldives, and Australia. Just visit their official website for more info on that.
Let me know which designs you like and which ones you’ll be getting! Drop me a comment below! 😉