Taking a great idea and turning it into a reality has been the hallmark of marketing success stories. A similar story is found in Siti Murni’s entrepreneurial efforts in the creation of stylish patented headgear designs that look good and comfortable. Her idea has developed into a successful venture across the nation and beyond. A more significant outcome of the entrepreneurship is Siti’s ability to build and groom women to be independent and to be able to hold their own, both financially and socially. In a recent interview conversation, Siti Murni Abdul Aziz, the founder of SITIMURNI Holdings Sdn Bhd talks about her current success, future plans and most importantly, the building of women entrepreneurs.
Hailing from Kelantan, a state known for its indomitable spirited women, Siti Murni Abdul Aziz epitomizes the veritable entrepreneurial nature of Kelantanese women. Most Malaysians will recognize Siti based on her experience working as a newscaster for RTM1 for 12 years and still currently freelancing for the news channel. “I love communicating and relating with people which I am able to convey on television,” says Siti. Coming from a family of seven siblings and parents who were a government servant and businesswoman respectively, the independent streak and survival instincts came from an early age. A smart, stunning personality ensconced by a warm gracious smile, Siti has won the hearts of many Malaysians both online and offline.
The designer headgear which Siti specializes in came from a need which nurtured into an idea. “I wanted to wear the “tudung” but my skin could not handle metal brooches due to allergies,” says Siti, “Then it struck me that I could modify the “tudung” design so that a brooch was not necessary and voila, the ‘SITIMURNI’ designs came into being.” The designs have since been patented and the “tudung”, made of Italian chiffon, has become a much sought-after headgear by Malaysian and Singaporean women looking for niche patterns.
“Eight years ago, I started off with just RM1,000 as capital and before I knew it, the business had expanded. I had to employ more workers and put in extra hours. Those times were filled with hopes and excitement for me,” Siti reminisces. The business has since expanded into a showroom in Seri Kembangan and there were other Muslim headgear supporters which number some two thousand agents in Malaysia and Singapore, some of whom are earning a 5 or 6-figure monthly income. There are also product diversifications into pet projects such as a healthy chocolate drink called Choclove, “telekung” and basic cosmetics with future plans for wellness programmes. The main communication channel that has proven to be the most effective for Siti is social media, especially Facebook where daily ‘live’ sessions are conducted.
Besides producing great products and designs for the business, Siti believes in improving the lives of women through the building up of women entrepreneurs. By providing avenues for women in leadership and entrepreneurial training, she takes pride that women are realizing their true potential not only in their businesses but in all other aspects of their lives. “The most significant reward I have received from my business is the ability to improve someone else’s life. In this case, it is the women whom I am able to provide the correct guidance and support,” smiles Siti. This includes providing an inspiring office environment where the management style of teamwork, support, and cooperation is encouraged among them.
Siti’s work-life balance revolves around balancing her business life and weekends with a seven-year-old son who goes to a nearby international school. “His school session finishes around 3 pm in the afternoon and I plan my schedule accordingly,” says Siti. Her husband works with Radio Televisyen Malaysia and supports her in her business when time permits.
Siti has the vision to further expand the current segment of headgear wear and diversify the business into related products such as drinks suitable for women, basic cosmetics and wellness programmes such as spas. However, Siti’s greatest desire is to improve a lot of women and to build more women entrepreneurs. “I am proud of my achievements in improving women’s lives and being able to shape them into independent entrepreneurs. From meek and timid women, they have grown into capable women who are able to compete in any new venture,” says Siti, showing an unmistakable sense of pride.
Siti’s advice for those having good business ideas and wanting to become entrepreneurs is to be resilient, patient and prudent in handling cash as the business world is indeed tough and it takes time for one to see the fruit of one’s labors.