Kooshboo creates children’s clothes with inspirations drawn from nature and childhood memories, writes Nadia Badarudin
WHEN she was a child, Natasha Navin and her two siblings would spend hours playing in the garden and enjoying nature. Climbing trees and catching butterflies and other nostalgic childhood memories have since sparked Natasha’s creative juices in fashion, particularly in designing for children.
She is the founder and chief executive officer of Kooshboo, an independent, homegrown brand for children’s clothing which is synonymous with comfort, simplicity and versatility.
Besides being retailed online and at pop-up stores as well as weekend bazaars, Kooshboo is also available at Robinsons (The Gardens, Kuala Lumpur), Kita Kita (Bukit Damansara, KL) and Kids Walk in Singapore.
“Kooshboo is a romantic idea that my sister Natalia and I were toying with even before we had our own children,” says the 39-year-old entrepreneur who is a trained architect.
“Kooshboo is a Hindi word which means ‘fragrance’,” she says. “Natalia and I believe in letting our children enjoy nature and outdoor activities like we did when we were small. We also like the idea of clothes made of natural and comfortable fabrics.
“We chose Kooshboo with the hope that it evokes the spirit of what we want to create — children’s clothes with inspirations drawn from nature, and our childhood memories,” she says.
“We grew up in homemade clothes, beautifully made by our mother and grandmother. We treasured that, and we have always been inspired by the beautiful fabrics, the colours and traditional clothes-making methods we saw in Gujarat, India. We used to spend our school holidays there with our father’s family and they lived near cotton fields,” says the mother of three.
She says the aim of creating a clothing line for children was revisited after her sister’s first child was born five years ago.
“We realised that there was something missing in mass-produced children’s clothes. Some were made of materials that were not suitable for children to play or explore, especially in our weather, while some just lacked soul.
“When I studied in France and Australia, I noticed that there were many children’s clothes produced by small but sustainable local brands, unlike here and that was how Kooshboo was born. The brand was created to fill those gaps,” says Natasha.
She says she did R&D for the business for two years and enrolled in sewing and pattern-making classes before establishing Kooshboo in 2012.
SIMPLE AND PRACTICAL
With the simple idea to make clothes suitable for children to move around in comfort and ease, the cuts in Kooshboo designs are kept basic while materials are lightweight, breathable and 100 per cent natural such as cotton, cotton silk and cotton linen.
Each piece can be easily mixed and matched and features cute patterns and design motifs inspired by nature such as flowers, butterflies and palm trees as well as other elements that reflect children’s naivete, says Natasha.
“My designs are mostly inspired by nature and the outdoors; something that reminds me of how my siblings and I spent our time when we were children,” she says. “Seeing my own children, Imran, Rania and Sofia running around and playing in our little garden at home keeps me inspired too. They are like my muses,” she adds.
Kooshboo rolls out new collections three times a year — the Hari Raya Aidilfitri collection, Christmas/Chinese New Year resort/holiday wear collection and the Spring/Summer collection.
The price range for each piece starts from RM110.
Kooshboo is about boho chic where bohemian influences are combined with contemporary styles to create looks that are folk-inspired, simple and current, all crafted by a small production team of eight.
“The boho chic aspect of the brand is where we create fresh and contemporary styles using traditional art and techniques such as block printing designs, hand embroidery as well as hand-painted batik. We keep going back to the idea of using traditional methods in whatever designs we do. For example, we use block printing for our Indian-inspired Jaipur collection,” says Natasha.
The brand’s Kupu-Kupu collection, on the other hand, features luxurious yet versatile hand-painted batik wear done by local batik artisans including the renowned Barakaff Batik.
“Our batik range is something we are really proud of. Instead of using machine-printed batik which is commonly found everywhere, we revived our treasured traditional art by working with local artisans who make the designs by hand.
“We also teamed up with batik icon, Sharifah Maheran Barakbah of Barakaff Batik for the capsule collection, making it more special,” she adds.
Natasha says hand embroidery is the main feature of the brand’s Trelis collection, launched as an initiative by the brand to help the vulnerable refugee groups group in Malaysia.
“The Trelis collection features cute dresses with hand-embroidered tiny rosettes as well as handmade crochet hairclips done by talented refugee women in Malaysia. It is part of our initiative to empower them socially and economically,” she says.
Apart from looking at expanding into international markets next year, Kooshboo is moving to new heights with the opening of its first boutique at Great Eastern Mall in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur next month.
“I am excited to have our own boutique soon; the experience of retailing our products at Parkson, Robinsons and Isetan has taught us to keep pace with the real retail environment. New expectations and challenges make you strive for the better and keep pushing boundaries to stand out from the crowd.
“But keeping our core business value intact is still a priority,” says Natasha. She anticipates that price will be among the new challenges to stay ahead in the industry.
“However, rather than dealing with the price factor to compete with mass-produced garments, we will focus on the niche market and change people’s mindset when it comes to buying clothes for children. Customers may have to pay slightly more for the clothes, but with guaranteed quality and comfort for their little ones.
“And, most importantly, they know that they are buying something with soul and meaning. They know that there is a story behind each Kooshboo piece which they can relate to or which reminds them of happy childhood memories,” she adds.
Kid clothing brands in Malaysia to look out for:
With “minimal but not typical” as its tagline, Whimsigirl offers clothing made of natural fibre for girls and boys as well as unisex pieces for children from 3 months up to 6 years old.
BebeBundo is popular for its cute and finely handcrafted, soft-soled leather shoes for toddlers and children.
Baby Kimono retails unique kimono-inspired clothes for babies and children made of authentic vintage kimono fabrics.
Inspired by culture and nature, POKOKS offers chic but practical clothes for children to enjoy nature.
ZAYN & ZAYD CO.
Known for its adorable moustache logo, Zayn & Zayd Co is a boys’ clothing line for toddlers and preschoolers. It offers basic elements in preppy style, yet with looks that are fresh and modern.