Culturas Corner highlights individuals who make their community a better place through their work, business, volunteering or activism. Today we hear from Nurul Fatini Binti Zamr, the founder of LushPins, a Malaysia-based jewelry business that took off after her TikTok went viral.
Can you give us a little bit of background about yourself and the creation of LushPins?
Hi! My name is Nurul Fatini Binti Zamri, and I go by Fatini or Tini if you want to sound cuter haha. I live in my childhood home with my family of 8 and my 4 cats. This is also the place where I currently operate my business.
LushPins is a jewelry business that sells novel “pinrings,” earrings that use a straight pin instead of hooks or studs, thus where the name comes from: pin-earrings! This allows the earrings to be easily and seamlessly pinned onto fabrics, thus enabling those who wear a headcover to style fashionably and modestly. LushPins is catered to the Muslimah community, along with many others who wear a hijab or any other headscarves. LushPins strives to bond a seamless society between the hijabi community and the rest of the fashion globe by offering a jewelry line that celebrates muslimah creativity as fashion allows while still staying modest.
I began experimenting with the idea after finishing my diploma exams and preparing attire for our graduation ceremony. We had a strict dress code and I remembered one of our lecturers told us girls who wear the hijabs specifically to not style our head covers too dramatically or too fancy. This was because he wanted us to feel comfortable and confident. Also so that everyone can look uniform and prim and proper on their big day. We were allowed to accessorise, but minimally.
From there, I knew I wanted to wear earrings for this event because a head accessory may look a little dressy and a necklace would be a little boring. Anyway, I wanted to wear earrings, but couldn’t without my hair or ears peeking out somehow. Then a friend came to my house wearing dangling brooches on both sides of her hijab. I told her that it was a very smart idea and wanted to try a pair for myself for the graduation. But sadly, where I live, there were not many designs of brooches that are suitable to wear as earrings and the fastened backs create a bulky and uncomfortable wear, plus it was only a few days before the graduation. So I adapted the idea and used straight pins instead. And instead of the brooches, I went out and found a pair of simple earrings that I could use for the event. And tada! That’s how pinrings were created. This was in 2017, and I have been making pinrings for me and my sisters to wear personally ever since.
How significantly did your viral TikTok impact LushPins?
The TikTok video has changed LushPins dramatically. The video reached farther than Malaysia, even to those that we never expected. But I am so grateful for it because now more people know about our novel pinrings, even those who are not hijab and might not even wear it. Not only that, but the TikTok also shared the endearing truth about how LushPins started, as well as my own personal struggles. Because of that, many people have shown support for small businesses like LushPins, which I think helped build strong relationships between strangers and other small business owners that might also experience similar struggles.
Alhamdulilah now that there is a surge of new customers from all around the globe. We learned that much improvement is needed to be done in terms of how the company operates, but also how the company can grow in the future. After two big batches of orders, we realised that we should migrate from operating primarily on our Instagram to our own official website so that we can provide a better buying experience. Along with that, we can also finally open up international shipping, which I am just so excited about.
Can you tell us what it means to be a “modest fashionista”/ “hijabista,” as you refer to on your page? How do LushPins play a part in embodying this role?
In Islam, women are put in high valuable positions and that are uniquely gifted with our looks and existence, compared to men. Thus, we are encouraged to carry ourselves with dignity and decency. More specifically, we are advised to cover and shield our entire body, except for our face and hands, and wearing the hijab can help that. A modest fashionista or a hijabista is someone who is fashionable while still being able to abide to these guidelines that Islam has given to us. Hijab is a person who wears the hijab and hijabista is a term for a fashionable hijabi!
As known, wearing earrings with a hijab can be challenging and a meticulous effort as to not let our ears or hair peek out. Thus it can be uncomfortable, bulky and even restricted as to how the hijab can be styled. Some people might think twice before they think about wearing earrings with their hijab because it can be daunting and too complicated when they need to stop for prayers.
However, pinrings eliminate all of these factors and make it easy and versatile for any hijabi to accessorise for any time of their day. LushPins not only help hijabi to style in the best of both worlds, but also is encouraging and showing young women that it is possible to express yourself and have fun with fashion while still not having to hinder our beliefs and practices.
You said you are moving toward doing international shipping. What else do you see in the future for LushPins?
The ultimate dream of mine for LushPins is to be able to design my own pinrings collection entirely from scratch. This means having a team of jewelers to help guide me in the design process and having a factory of our own to blacksmith our ideas.
I also dream for LushPins to be more than just a jewelry brand someday. However, pinrings will maintain as our main focus obviously. I am planning to offer other helpful Muslimah products that can improve, ease, and empower the modern Muslim community. Whether that would be through launching our own niche hijabs, or even an entire Muslimah clothing line. Other than expanding our product line, I also wish to collaborate with big companies that can help make an impact.Whatever it may be, I hope to be able to grow this company with a good team. Working alongside people that are humble, have good work ethic, and strong integrity so that we can serve our customers
Most importantly, I hope that LushPins will not only be a successful company, but also a legacy that shows that the hijab does not oppress or divide the Muslim women from the rest of the world. Instead it is simply just a symbol of faith. So I hope LushPins can celebrate this idea and promote creativity, innovation, and self expression with our motto, “Dress modest effortlessly.”
On a similar note, I do want to say that I do not wish any division or negativity to the Muslim women who don’t wear the hijab or say that they are lesser than a hijabi. In Islam, we believe that Allah will give everyone their own revelations with their own timelines. And also we are never in the position to judge one’s piety based solely on their appearance.
What is your favorite cultural memory?
My favourite cultural memory is definitely our Eid holiday celebrations. After a month of fasting in Ramadan, we get to celebrate for an entire month with family gatherings, delicious food, fun traditions.
I can still remember our whole house filled with anticipation and excitement as my family and I waited for the national announcement of the official date for Eid. (Since Islam uses the lunar calendar, they have to look at the moon to know the end of Ramadan month and when the month of Syawal, “Eid” begins). Even during Ramadan, classic Eid songs will be played, family will work together in the kitchen to prepare traditional foods, people will start buying their matching clothes to wear. Much like Christmas, Ramadan and Eid is such a momentous time of the year that is exciting.
My most fond memory is when all my distant relatives came to gather in my late grandfather’s home in the countryside and we would all spend time and prepare for Eid together. The last day of Ramadan would be spent with everyone, so we get to supper together, and then later have the living room be filled with everyone as a massive sleepover. And on the day of Eid, we get to hear the beautiful and peaceful Takbir recited from the mosque. After the morning Eid prayers, everybody will don their new clothes. Our family has this tradition where each family would dress as one colour, and we had 10 families including my late grandfather, so the house would be so colourful and create such a warming and loving atmosphere. We would then eat and play games together. Then at night, my cousins would play fireworks together, while our parents would have night chats and tea on the porch.
My childhood memories of Ramadan and Eid are such an important part of my life because it is such an easy time and it’s such a rewarding celebration to congratulate a month of successful fasting. This cultural memory showed me that Islam is a very beautiful way of living, and that similar to LushPins, religion will not be a hindrance in one’s growth or individuality.
Answers have been edited for length and clarity. Know someone who should be featured on Culturas Corner? Nominate them here.