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Just a few weeks ago, we were at Slate at The Row, browsing through the 30 or so stalls at the annual Merdeka edition of Sunny Side Up Market, a curated community market.

Though we (mainly our boss, Sarah) ended up purchasing a product from almost every stall (and spending a grand total of RM1,041 in under two hours), there were a few stalls that particularly stood out to us.

One of them was TopiTin. While their bucket hats were adorable, what cemented them in our memories was the fact that they were a trio of siblings running the show.

Well, at least for that weekend. The real brains (and brawn?) behind TopiTin is actually a mother-daughter duo who’s been growing the business for just over two years now.

It all started with a DIY video

Daughter Fatin has always loved doing DIY projects, and came across a DIY video on how to make a bucket hat when randomly browsing the internet one day.

Inspired and itching to try it out herself, she roped her mum in to teach her how to sew. After some trial and error, they eventually mastered the art of making a perfect bucket hat, Fatin recalled.

Proud of the hat they had made, Fatin posted pictures of it on her personal Instagram account, and the rest was history.

Peers began requesting for one themselves, and so she opened up orders for some, but had no concrete plans to take this further yet. 

Image Credit: TopiTin

Several months later though, she would make TopiTin’s official business account.

Fun fact: TopiTin comes from the word “topi” (hat in Malay), and “Tin” from Fatin’s nickname given by her friends. To top it all off, the brand’s logo is an adorable tin can wearing a bucket hat.

Fatin was a design student then, and now the 24-year-old has graduated and is currently a graphic designer working in Damansara Utama. 

That is to say, TopiTin isn’t her full-time business. All of her family members have full-time jobs too, and help out with TopiTin when they have free time. 

In between work and rest, they’ll even make time to discuss plans for the business. Though that might sound tiring, their passion for the business plays a major role in their dedication.

After all, they’re actually a family of hat-lovers too, collecting all kinds of hats, and aren’t just here for the trend.

Combining creativity & quality in a bucket (hat)

Though it’s not their full-time job, they certainly appear to be actively involved in the business, as there are always new designs being created and displayed on their social media.

Just browsing through their Instagram will show you various designs, from knitted woolen hats (not beanies) to more rounded bucket hats made out of what looks like canvas.

Image Credit: TopiTin

The type that dominates their page is the one with printed designs though. Fancy something tropical like watermelons or palm leaves for that summer mood?

Or perhaps you’re looking for something more cutesy like anthropomorphised sushi and cats? TopiTin exercises creativity in doing it all, and the current bulk of their designs seems centred on checkered patterns and batik.

All of the bucket hats that they make from scratch are also reversible. “They’re usually printed on one side, and plain on the other side,” Fatin described. 

Unknowing of this fact, Sarah found out after trying on her purchased bucket hat, to her pleasant surprise.

Sarah, satisfied with her purchase

“We want customers to have an option, whether to go quirky or to go minimal! They’ll also feel like it’s worth spending money on our hats,” Fatin explained.

Each reversible bucket hat is priced between RM69 to RM89. While this might be pricey to some, it takes into account various costs.

These include the fabrics for both sides and the threads used, all the way to the packaging, which usually involves flyers, cards, tags, and more, in the typical way smaller businesses like to personalise things.

On a steady rise to the top

With the quality that TopiTin puts out, their challenges don’t necessarily have to do with their products. 

“The biggest challenges of running the business would be the critics that we get, due to my mum and me not having business backgrounds,” Fatin revealed.

Instead of letting these occasional criticisms run them into the ground though, they take them in stride as a push to do better.

And while there are polarising opinions on running a business with family, Fatin was happy to disclose that her relationship with her mum only got better through TopiTin.

Despite her mum’s experience in sewing and Fatin’s skills in graphic design, they both try to avoid being a know-it-all in either field, and listen to one another’s opinions instead.

Image Credit: TopiTin

As of now, TopiTin’s small team produces around 20 bucket hats in a week, and largely sells them online, shipping both domestically and internationally. During bazaars and events or in consignment stores though, they can be bought in-person.

“We’re planning to have more hat variations soon—caps, berets, sun hats, you name it. We’re still at the trial and error stage for those though, so let’s hope for the best,” Fatin shared excitedly.

Her plan for TopiTin is to expand further in the fashion industry, but it’s not all about the products. 

Proof of her young entrepreneurial mindset, she said, “It’s more towards getting engagement now, than receiving tons of sales. I want people to recognise the brand, and love the brand’s story.”

Well, you could say that’s a mission accomplished.

  • Learn more about TopiTin here.
  • Read about more Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: TopiTin

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)