Zakiyah Zaini: Realising Dreams through Discovery Learning

Having found her passion in Arts and Fashion in UBD, alumna Zakiyah Zaini realised her dreams of designing headscarf collections, ZZ Scarf. The collection has become a popular brand of Muslimah fashion for women in Brunei Darussalam.

Zakiyah graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art and Creative Technology in 2014. She is currently a postgraduate student at Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Education (SHBIE) and is due to receive her Master of Teaching (MTeach) in Art Secondary Education at the upcoming 28th Convocation Ceremony.

In addition to having ventured into fashion entrepreneurship, Zakiyah Zaini is a postgraduate student at the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Education (SHBIE). She will be awarded a Master of Teaching degree at the upcoming 28th Convocation Ceremony. “Thanks to my time management training during my undergraduate programme, I now value my time so much, and that is how I am able to engage in multiple tasks.” explained Zakiyah.

Zakiyah’s journey to success, however, was no smooth road. Despite being intrigued by Arts and Design, she was rejected from pursuing art studies in her secondary education. It was until she was joined UBD that she decided to enrol into the Art and Creative Technology programme to pursue her dream career.

The budding entrepreneur credited her success to the support of her lecturers and the versatility of the GenNEXT programme that allowed her to experiment and discover her talents through doing. “Dr Martie Geigher-Ho was one of the lecturers who supported me a lot in this textile design field,” she said with gratitude.

At the end of the first year into the degree programme, Zakiyah’s artwork was presented as a souvenir to then Prime Minister of China, Wen Jiabao, during his visit to UBD in 2011. She gushed at the experience: “Alhamdulillah, this will always be one of the best moments in my life. It was a very inspiring moment for my dream because it gave me the confidence and motivation to carry on with my career pursuit.”

She unveiled her designs to a much wider audience with her capstone project at UBD’s annual Spectacle Graduation Art Show. Given a 6 by 6 ft space to exhibit her work, Zakiyah created an art installation of a dream boutique selling her own designed clothing collection. Her exhibition received a flurry of positive responses and flared the idea of starting her own “entrepreneurship reality”.

With only B$400 as her startup capital, Zakiyah bought only the bare necessities such as fabric, to start up her business. “I would spend most of my nights designing the artworks. I printed the first batch of my design scarves in small quantity and sold them to my close relatives and friends,” she recalled. Her designs steadily gained popularity and are now sold online on her Instagram @zakiyahzaini_scarves. Her designs have also caught attention of prominent audience such as His Majesty the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam at a Hari Raya celebration organised by Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah.

Zakiyah’s scarf designs are a fusion of Brunei’s culture and crafts with modern fabric designs. Her modern designs are inspired by the works of American artist, Amy Butler. “I came across her artworks in my sewing books and that was when I decided to create my own patterns on fabric and turned it into something that could be worn and appreciated by everyone; a headscarf.” she explained.

“Before deciding on a color scheme for my pattern designs, I always remember that I have to make sure it is suitable for all ages and that it fits in our current fashion trends. To achieve this, I usually create one design in two or more different contrasting color schemes (vibrant and soft/pastel), so that my clients will have options to choose from. I also meet a few people to inquire about the color schemes they would prefer so that I am able to take that into account as well.”

Zakiyah plans to extend her production beyond headscarves to include blouse designs from her own art patterns for casual wear. “In addition to headscarf and blouse designs, I am also thinking of making textured wallpaper for home interior using my own patterns.” she added.

Launched in 2009, UBD’s GenNEXT curriculum aims to nurture students into versatile professionals with a wide set of skills and values of leadership, creativity and innovation, and entrepreneurship. UBD has since then produced high quality graduates who have created their own success out of diligence, creativity, industry-relevant skills and a passion for life-long learning. 

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