How Style & Supporting Refugees Come Together with Pitaya Collection
Based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Pitaya Collection is a social enterprise that works with Afghan refugees to create stylish clothing pieces, while making a difference in the lives of refugees. We interviewed the founders, Rosa and Megumi, to get an inside look at Pitaya’s social mission and how their social enterprise is making a difference.
You can follow Pitaya Collection on Instagram @pitayacollection and shop their products here.
When was Pitaya Collection started?
We started brainstorming and planning at the end of 2018, and we officially launched in March 2019.
How was your social enterprise started?
We were initially volunteering with another social enterprise, which inspired us to start our own project. We were working with a highly skilled Afghan refugee bag-maker with that social enterprise, so we thought that with Pitaya, we could continue working with the Afghan refugee community, giving them an opportunity to use their skills and work from home so that they could support their family. We currently work with an Afghan tailor, who makes all of our clothing, as well as with our bag-maker, whom we continue to work with to make our Pitaya bags.
What makes your products special?
Our products are fresh, there aren’t many products like ours in the current Malaysian market. We have a wide variety of kimonos and dresses in so many different fabrics, that each woman can find one (or more!) that they love. Our pieces are versatile, meaning that you can easily wear them for your morning errands, or for a night out with a pair of heels. Also, we strive to make pieces that are one size fits all, so that all women can wear them. Of course, we are always open to personal orders if you feel that you want to make any alterations to the item you buy, so feel free to let us know! Lastly, we strive to minimize waste, therefore we have made zipper pouches out of the remaining fabric from the clothing.
Where do you sell your products?
We sell in bazaars, through social media (IG and FB accounts), and through private sales. Our products are also in Klein & Fine store in Penang, and we will soon be available on Etsy.
What is Pitaya’s social mission?
Our social mission is to develop a brand that gives refugees whom we work with the opportunity to use their skills and work from home so that they can make a living and support their family. We also strive for a zero-waste production, utilizing any remaining fabric to make small accessories such as zipper pouches or masks.
Why did you start this social enterprise?
We both have backgrounds in fashion and retail in our home countries (Spain and Japan), so we wanted to start a brand where we could use our skills and enjoy what we do. Our previous experience volunteering with another social enterprise that sells bags made by an Afghan refugee bag maker, made us want to continue working with the Afghan refugee community. Mixing these two worlds together lead us to the creation of Pitaya Collection. We would like to continue growing our brand, so that we can increase our social impact within the Afghan refugee community so that they can continue using their skills and support their family.
Who are your biggest influences?
There isn’t one specific person or people who influence us. Rather, we find inspiration in many things around us, what we see in our travels or in our day to day. Our biggest influence is street style, mixed with boho-chic and Mediterranean, mixed with tropical!
What other social enterprises do you admire?
There are so many wonderful social enterprises around us here in Kuala Lumpur! Nazanin Bags, of course, as it is where our adventure started. Surya Bags, Penan Bags Europe or LaLola are all brands that we admire as they make a social impact by working with refugee communities or minority tribes in Malaysia.
What is a recent exciting success of yours?
We recently launched our kids kimono line, some of them with matching mommy kimonos! We are also very close to launching our Etsy store for our international customers, so stay tuned!
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Not exactly advice, but we like to always like to work as a team. Not only between us, but with other brands in the market. There are many small brands like ours, with whom we have spent many hours together while working at bazaars. We like the camaraderie that we have developed with each other. We think that together, united, we can work together to drive each others’ sales up, rather than being competitive with each other.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to start their own social enterprise?
It’s important to make an impact, but most importantly to have fun in the process and do something that you truly like and enjoy!
For 5% off your order with Pitaya Collection mention to them that you read this blog!
Be sure to like them on Facebook: Pitaya Collection & follow them on Instagram @pitayacollection