Mimipikita Creative Director Nurul Afidah Zulkifli On Turning Self-Doubt Into A Launchpad For Success
When it comes to conquering the darker side of her personality, Generation T lister believes in taking the bull by the horns. The creative director of fashion label Mimpikita admits, "Compared to my sisters and co-founders of the company, I tend to see the negative side of things when the going gets tough." Yet, instead of 'faking positivity', Nurul chooses to capitalise on her insecurities as a motivational tool. Here, she talks about how her self-growth influenced the success of Mimpikita.
Nurul Afidah Zulkifli never saw herself as ‘positive’. “I think and worry a lot, and I think that is one of my strengths,” says the creative mind behind local fashion brand Mimpikita as we start off our interview about mental strength in business.
“There are days when I feel sad, frustrated and unsure. I can’t pretend I am happy when I am not. So, I use my fears and doubts to my advantage. I believe negativity exists to motivate and push me to succeed.”
To balance this, Nurul says she is lucky to have her sisters (and Mimpikita’s co-founders) Fatimah Ani Syahira Zulkifli and Amirah Hanis Zulkifli to lean on. Her sisters are also her support system—they are always there to uplift her when she needs the push.
“I wouldn’t have gotten this far with Mimpikita without them by my side in the past ten years,” she admits.
The Start Of A Dream
Nurul never imagined that she would become a fashion designer. Born to an architect and a seamstress, she describes a childhood filled with creativity.
“My parents would always sign us up for art classes and buy us sketchbooks, paint and crayons when we were kids, instead of toys,” she reflects.
Thanks to her academic achievements, Nurul’s father encouraged her to study engineering and accounting in the hopes she will become a corporate high flyer. However, Nurul’s lack of passion in accounting was the catalyst that inspired her to explore fashion as a potential career path.
“While I was studying in Australia, I bought sketchbooks for myself and my sisters. I told them that when I returned, we would launch a fashion business together. My sisters laughed at me at first, but when I came back home with sketchbooks full of ideas, they realised how serious I was!” she reveals.
A Tough Climb
From its humble beginnings, selling wholesale outfits on blogshops and weekend bazaars, to designing and creating their ready-to-wear collection, Mimpikita has certainly come far in its journey. The period in-between these two chapters of Mimpikita was a challenging one for Nurul, who also sold cookies and Raya hampers to make ends meet.
“We started Mimpikita with a capital of RM3,000, loaned by our father. It wasn’t much, but we made do and grew the business from there. I won’t lie, I thought of giving up so many times, but I never did,” she says.
Spreading Her Wings
The turning point came in 2014, when Nurul enrolled herself and her sister Amira to a seven-day entrepreneurship course in Oxford University. “Listening to a panel in the course, I was inspired by what they have done and achieved. There, I was finally inspired to put aside my doubts and dream big. I decided UK was the market that I would set as a benchmark,” she says.
When she came back to Malaysia, she hired a consultant to penetrate the UK market. “Currently, a shop in East Linton High Street is selling our pieces; we participated in London Modest Fashion Week and my long-term goal is to sell Mimpikita at Selfridges. It’s still a long way, but I am grateful for what has been accomplished. It’s a sign to never give up and Alhamdullilah, one day, we will get there," she says.
Grab a copy of Malaysia Tatler's September 2018 issue on newstands for the full personality interview