Author’s Blurb: I’ve never seen a parang up close before, but I know that well crafted ones can be quite the beauty. Not to mention, they’re handy tools, particularly for whacking away at flora in the jungle or to cut down fruits in a kebun.
Parangs are just not something that you or me, the average urbanites who don’t go outdoors much, would have any reason to own and use.
Indeed, Nadir of Outdoor Dynamics Sdn Bhd shared, “Our target audience are men in the age range of 25-40 who enjoy outdoor activities like camping, hiking, fishing, bushcrafting and 4x4s.”
Outdoor Dynamics owns MY Parang, a marketplace that specifically sells locally made parangs, and they see male customers of all ages who simply enjoy the outdoors, have a parang collection, or use these handy tools in their orchards.
Before MY Parang was established, people would buy parangs in local hardware shops, which Nadir said were quite common especially in rural areas where they’re considered an essential tool.
Of course, there were also online shops selling knives back then, but they mostly sold imported knives and machetes.
On the other hand, MY Parang creates their own line of parangs that are distributed to authorised local resellers with outdoor equipment stores, and they export their parangs to international resellers too.
With this, they’ve opened up the world of parangs to an audience beyond those living in rural areas; urbanites with disposable income and an interest in the outdoors can now purchase parangs with relative ease.
One YouTube Review That Changed It All
Outdoor Dynamics is an outdoor and camping equipment retailer and distributor based in Penang, and had already been selling parangs on their website prior to launching MY Parang.
The parangs they sell are sourced from a blacksmith based in Bidor, Chop Kuan Yuan Loong, which has been in the business for 3 generations, and these parangs are so well known that there are copies and fakes of them.
In 2011, thanks to a review by a YouTuber called junglecrafty, one of Outdoor Dynamics’ parangs was exposed to the international outdoors community.
After that, they began amassing a waiting list international customers, and since the parangs took time to make, it became a classic case of demand over supply.
Eventually, they managed to meet the demand, and international buyers were happy with their authentic Malaysian made parangs.
However, despite the excellent feedback, one prevailing and re-occurring comment was that the plastic handle of the parang looked cheap, came loose, and felt “waxy”.
The team searched high and low for a local craftsman who was willing and able to make wooden handles for the parang, but were unable to find one.
Frustration turned into opportunity, and they embarked on a quest to produce their own wooden handled parangs.
It took many failed attempts but their perseverance and determination (with a bit of luck, Nadir added) finally won out, and by early 2014, they were producing their first few batches.
The parangs were shipped to international markets in custom made boxes, and over the years, they kept adding new models to their offerings.
In mid-2017, they made the decision to shut down their camping equipment store to concentrate full-time on MY Parang.
It wasn’t easy, but they believe they made the right decision as the sales and popularity of MY Parang improved tremendously since, and there’s still unexplored potential.
Clearing The Way For International Growth
In a good month, they sell about 150-200 parangs, but these good months only come 3-4 times a year, Nadir shared. In 2019, they sold 1,227 parangs.
They used to sell their parangs themselves, but have since closed their retail channels as it took too much time and money. Now, they focus on assembly and supplying their dealers.
However, they still do participate in two yearly events organised by Perbadanan Kemajuan Kraftangan Malaysia to sell their parangs, meet their customers, discuss ideas, and get feedback from users.
While MY Parang’s products are popular here, they’ve also gained quite an international following by now.
One of the first international shops to sell MY Parang was BladeHQ, and today Ray Mears, a world renowned bushcraft expert from the UK also sells MY Parang on his website, which has boosted their international reputation and sales.
Today, MY Parang can be found in stores across the world, including Russia, Sweden, South Africa, and France, amongst many others.
By the end of the year, they plan to introduce new models and add items that are complimentary to the parang.
“We also hope to find new ways to reach more of our international audience, as Facebook and Instagram do not allow us to advertise,” Nadir said.
Bottom Line: I think it’s pretty cool how a craft from our culture is so widely appreciated across the world. I wouldn’t have thought that our local parangs would be popular overseas, seeing as they already have their own versions of machetes.
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Featured Image Credit: MY Parang