Like many, Farhanna Pura grew up designing outfits to wear on occassions such as Hari Raya. However, unlike most, she dared to take it further, showcasing her talent on international runways.
The 32-year-old is a go-getter who will not stop taking risks. These risks would later pay off when in 2015, her brand NA FORRÉR, was the first Bruneian brand to debut on Fashion Valet, Malaysia’s online fashion platform, which enabled her to gauge the interest of regional clients.
Farhanna, who also holds a full-time job at BAG Networks, credits her success to the support of her colleagues. It gave her the confidence to start NA FORRÉR in 2010, she says.
More recently, the young designer was able to showcase at London Fashion Week, garnering her a London-based following. Her brand is now also available on a UK Modest fashion site, Haute Elan.
Despite Farhanna’s wide-reaching client base, her core clientele is still young Bruneians who have taken notice of her ‘made to measure’ service.
“I knew that Bruneians would appreciate my one-off designs. I also understood that sizing was an issue, therefore having designs made (to fit) was added value.”
She describes her creations as demi couture – tailored, bold, cool and sophisticated, among others.
Apart from Kuala Lumpur and London, she has also brought her designs to Qatar and Japan.
To market her designs, she takes advantage of social media such as Instagram and Facebook. The entrepreneur says she plans her own marketing and collaborates with fashion bloggers. For Farhanna, it is crucial to be visible on the web.
Showcasing her work on global runways, she says, is the “best and scariest feeling ever”.
“I feel proud to make a name for Brunei and explaining where Brunei is to my foreign counterparts. However, it is scary because the pressure to make a good impression is on you.”
Her success does not come without challenges, the foremost being to produce original designs and patenting them.
“Another big hurdle would be production as there are limited resources (in Brunei). Yes, it is cheaper to buy and produce things outside, but again coming back to my point of making sure that a design is not copied, it is sometimes hard to control,’’ she explains
While Farhanna currently rents a shared studio space in Batu Bersurat where she meets her clients, she dreams of having her own space one day to showcase her designs and allow clients to do fittings.
On top of her day job and designing clothes, Farhanna is also a mother of one year-old twins. Her children are her main priority, she says.
After 5pm daily if there is no urgent business to attend to, she shuts off and her toddlers have her undivided attention. “Sundays are strictly family time. If there is business demand, then (I will dedicate 5pm to 8pm on weekdays) and then I make sure I get to put the twins to sleep,’’ she says.