An interview with Francisca Turner Shaik, Founder and Creative Director of Frankitas
This weekend, The Attaby Collective opens its doors with a month long stint, upstairs at 76 Haji Lane. Ordinary People will be bringing you the stories behind the some of the labels featured at The Attaby Collective. Read more about it here.
We start by introducing you to Frankitas, a company that believes in supporting traditional artisans in Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Africa and Central Asia. Through this support, they hope to help sustain age-old methods of weaving and tie dying. Frankita’s collection of unique handmade clutches, bags and home decor are bright, vibrant and feature gorgeous designs crafted from traditional textiles from the regions they support.
Ordinary People found out a little more about Frankitas and Founder and Creative Director, Francisca (fondly known as Franki) when we interviewed her this week.
At the start of your career, you were in publishing where you became an international reporter and lived in over 10 different countries. What was it that pushed you to take that leap into starting Frankitas?
I have always loved fashion – since I was in my early teens. I knew back then that I would pursue fashion at some point in my life. It was just a matter of time.
When I became a mother of three, time became more partial. I wanted to enjoy motherhood and spend quality time with my children whilst having a career too. The only way I could do both was to have my own business. So I knew the timing was right to start Frankitas.
What is it like working with the traditional craftsmen? Theirs is such a specialised art form, it really is important to help preserve this heritage.
It’s amazing. I feel very privileged to be given an opportunity to work alongside such exquisite artists. Their work is very much underrated and yet what they do is highly intricate and complex. It is a dying Art and it is a shame. We must protect its heritage and ensure that modern technology does not interfere too much in keeping it alive. These craftsmen and women have been doing this generations after generations and this is their livelihood.
You create many of the designs yourself. How does the creative process work? Do you know exactly what a traditional piece of textile will become as soon as you see it?
Yes, that is quite accurate.
I am inspired by colours, texture and motifs of the fabric first. I look at the fabric and I instantly know what to make them into. I am quite decisive with my thought process on which textile goes into the respective designs. I tend to follow and trust my eyes and instinct – always.
What do you love most about discovering the unique pieces that eventually become one of your gorgeous designer clutches, handbags or home decor?
Till today, I still get a huge rush of excitement every time I see a new piece of fabric which connects with me. I am literally like a child in a candy store! I look at each piece and the weave design and from there I see all the possibilities of how I can showcase its beauty through my clutches, bags, jewellery and home decor line.
Do you have a favourite piece in your collection?
I have seasonal favourites. Currently, I am completely obsessed with most textiles with a black and white geometric design – especially our Tas Malam.
What’s coming up this season for Frankitas?
We have a new line of gorgeous jewellery with vibrant new fabric pieces. We will also launch, just before summer, a couple of new handbag designs for women on the go.
Do you have any advice for someone who may be interested in starting their own lifestyle brand?
Firstly, have a clear idea on your brand and its DNA. Once this is clear, it is a lot easier to market and sell it.
Secondly, get your pricing right the first time and thirdly, use social media as your point of entry for the introduction to your brand, it is, after all, free. Make sure that your messages and photos are consistent and of quality. Spend some time to create a mood board of how you want your brand to presented.
And lastly, work smart and don’t be afraid to take risks
The name Frankitas comes from a combination of her name, Franki and the Malay word for bag “Tas”. The brand is distributed in Singapore by Gaya Subramaniam, childhood friend who grew up in Malaysia with Franki and now resides in Singapore, swapping from the food industry to lifestyle products when she was inspired to join hands with Frankitas to expand into Singapore.
Be sure and discover Frankitas at The Attaby Collective, upstairs at 76 Haji Lane from 7th of May to 4th of June.
For more information on Frankitas:
For more information on The Attaby Collective and Attaby: