Growing up as an only child, my parents didn’t have the benefit of giving me hand-me-downs to accommodate my growth phases.
Instead, they had to purchase new clothing of different sizes each time. Thankfully, I was never a demanding child (read: I had no fashion sense), so I would wear whatever I got, although my mum did like dressing me up.
When mother of two, Jueenn was raising her kids, clothing was an issue that often came to mind. She personally liked matching her kids’ clothing to what was in her own wardrobe, which was filled with neutral colours and comfortable wear.
For her first child, a son, she found it easy to source similar styles in the form of T-shirts, jeans, or shorts. But with her second child, a daughter, she felt it was near impossible to match her clothing to her son’s or her own.
Determined to do something about it, Jueenn launched her very own clothing line, Teezlab.
Taking a different path
After getting her fashion diploma, Jueenn took a different route from that of her peers. While the majority of her friends joined local designers, she instead decided to challenge herself by joining a manufacturing company in Balakong, Cheras.
There, she was able to enhance her knowledge in materials and fabrics, cutting, sewing, packing, and most importantly, cost management.
2 years later, she moved on and worked with various local and global brands like Poney, Giordano Ladies, Padini, Ms. Read, 7DAYS, and e-commerce brand Oxwhite.
In total, she’d amassed about 2 decades’ worth of industry knowledge, particularly in children’s clothing, by the time she created Teezlab.
Needless to say, this experience honed several values she wanted her own brand to embody.
Jueenn prioritises neutral colours and unisex styles so that anyone can easily rock her designs, and uses high-quality materials and manufacturing processes to increase the lifespan of the clothing.
The long clothing lifespan (with proper fabric care) means that Teezlab’s clothing can be easily shared with or passed down to siblings or relatives. Since the designs are meant to be unisex-friendly, there’s also little to no issue of, “Oh, she/he can’t wear that, it’s too masculine/girly!”.
Furthermore, being able to pass down good quality clothing means that less fabric waste ends up in our landfills. In Malaysia alone, it’s estimated that we produce up to 2,000 tonnes of textile waste each day.
On Teezlab’s end, the brand implements reusable packaging instead of PVC polybags and repurposes leftover fabrics to create mini bags. To further encourage customers to care for their clothing and extend its longevity, the brand also gives away free laundry washing nets with every purchase.
A cycle of value
But Jueenn’s dedication to creating value through Teezlab doesn’t just stop at her customers; she wants to help our local fashion and clothing industry too.
In the past 5 years, she’s observed many local factories closing down because brands tend to favour outsourcing manufacturing to countries like India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh due to cheap labour.
It’s not like we don’t have high-quality material and production skills such as printing, sewing, or embroidery in Malaysia, but the lack of demand has caused local businesses to shutter. Jueenn didn’t want to further contribute to the problem.
“I asked myself, if most local brands can support local manufactories, we will be able to create a good cycle [whereby] everyone will have a job opportunity to survive and nurture the market,” she said.
Thus, she made it a point to have 80% of Teezlab’s products manufactured right here in Malaysia, while outsourcing the other 20% to overseas factories.
Taking a look at Teezlab’s site, you’ll find that it doesn’t carry many styles yet, but it’s clear that the focus is definitely on children’s clothing.
Apart from daily clothes, the brand also produces comfortable sleepwear and loungewear for children. All its products are made from soft cotton knit and are tagless to reduce skin irritation.
Because Teezlab was created out of Jueenn’s desire to match with her daughter, the brand also carries adult-sized clothing in similar styles. This makes the brand a comfortable choice for families who enjoy wearing matching clothing for outings or events.
Based on my own shopping experiences, I find Teezlab’s products to be priced quite averagely, within the range of RM9.90 to RM49.90 for T-shirts, depending on the design and cut.
Born and grown in a pandemic
Starting and running a company during the pandemic was no doubt a tough ride for Jueenn and her team of 6.
Some challenges they faced included their manufacturer shutting down for over 3 months during MCO3.0, causing them to have zero new products to launch.
“The market momentum wasn’t stable, which was a huge disadvantage to us as a new brand, especially in the fashion industry,” Jueenn added.
Despite that, the team made it work by personally taking on various roles in photoshoots and video recordings, and they were careful with marketing expenses on FB ads as well as logistics costs.
“One of the reasons why we decided to move 20% of our upcoming products to be produced overseas is to avoid any unfortunate circumstances from happening again,” Jueenn shared, speaking of the aforementioned factory shutdown during MCO.
To maintain Teezlab’s vision and mission in supporting local though, she’s dedicated to keeping at least 70-80% of their production within Malaysia.
In the near future, she’s hoping to release more products for women of different ages and races to increase Teezlab’s market reach and traffic. This is because she believes women will still be the largest shoppers in the fashion industry.
But even then, she will not give up on their sustainability, concluding, “We aim to have more sustainable products and educational events to teach the importance of sustainability to protect our environment too.”
Featured Image Credit: Jueenn Chau, founder and CEO of Teezlab