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Tucked away in a cosy corner in Jalan Inai, KL, one family-owned business has been weaving stories and preserving heritage for decades, evolving with time yet staying true to its roots.

The journey of Jadi Batek is a tale of heritage passed down through generations, entwined with a modern entrepreneurial spirit.

It all began in the 1970s when Yong Jo, the father of the current owner, Colin Yong, embarked on a humble journey as a salesperson at Jadi Batek. In 1976, Colin’s father took over the business from his boss. Little did he know that this would mark the beginning of a legacy.

After years spent in the corporate world, navigating the intricate realms of commerce in Japan and Thailand, Colin found himself at a crossroads when his parents offered him the opportunity to take over Jadi Batek. 

“I saw the potential of the batik and tourism business in KL and thought it may be a waste to close it down or sell it to others. Thus, I decided to take the offer from my parents to buy over the business.”

Image Credit: Jadi Batek

“It was not a free handover from my parents but with a loan to pay back,” he said. 

That was because Colin’s father wanted him to perceive the business as his own startup venture, fostering a sense of ownership and pride. 

Adapting to market shifts

It wasn’t just a business transaction; it was a leap of faith and a chance to honour tradition while embracing innovation.

“When I joined Jadi Batek in 1999, it was a souvenir shop catering mainly to tour buses,” Colin reminisced. 

Image Credit: Jadi Batek

However, with changing market dynamics and evolving consumer preferences, he recognised the need for adaptation. 

“Young tourists said they don’t want to join tours as they prefer to travel by themselves. The tourists were also not as keen on buying souvenirs that much. They wanted experiences, something different.”

“So, I thought, why not give them what they want?” he continued. 

Thus began a new chapter for Jadi Batek—one defined by batik tours, classes, and a renewed focus on experiential tourism.

Image Credit: Jadi Batek

As a budding entrepreneur himself, he faced his fair share of challenges during the transition period.

Relocating from Jalan Sultan Ismail to Jalan Inai in 2003 brought its own set of hurdles, with a loss of walk-in customers necessitating innovative marketing strategies. 

From traditional advertisements in maps and magazines to harnessing the power of social media, Colin ensured that Jadi Batek remained not just relevant but thriving in the digital age.

Preserving tradition & embracing change 

According to Colin, Jadi Batek is all about quality and making sure their customers are happy. They put a lot of care into crafting their batik apparel and the artwork adorning the walls of the place. The goal is for customers really feel the Malaysian vibe in every piece they offer.

Batik items on sale here include lengths of batik dress-making material, ready-to-wear apparel such as dresses, blouses, cheongsams, scarves, kaftans, men’s shirts, children’s clothing, tablecloths, coasters, wall hangings, and other batik artworks.

Image Credit: Jadi Batek

Colin’s vision isn’t just about making money; he wants to spread the word about Malaysian batik everywhere.

“In multi-racial countries like Malaysia, batik serves as a unifying force,” Colin asserted.

So at Jadi Batek, they’ve made sure they maintain a diverse team, like a little community where different cultures come together and celebrate what makes Malaysia unique.

From hand-drawn masterpieces to block-printed marvels, each creation by the team is a labour of love, preserving a heritage that transcends time.

Image Credit: Jadi Batek

Wan Jafnan Wan Ariffin, the chief artist at Jadi Batek, exemplifies this dedication. With nearly two decades of experience, Wan Jafnan leads his team with passion and skill, ensuring that every batik piece tells a story of its own.

In the age of fast fashion and machine-printed replicas, Jadi Batek stays true to the real deal. They’re all about authenticity and standing firm amidst the flood of replicas.

Yet, the scarcity of skilled workers and competition from mass-produced alternatives loom on the horizon, requiring constant innovation and education.

Nevertheless, Colin’s vision for Jadi Batek remains unwavering. 

Image Credit: Jadi Batek

With plans to expand across the Klang Valley and establish batik centres beyond Kuala Lumpur, his journey continues to unfold, guided by a commitment to tradition, craftsmanship, and the enduring spirit of Malaysian batik.

In every stitch, in every brushstroke, lies a story waiting to be told—a story of tradition, reinvented for the modern world.

  • You can learn more about their business here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about Malaysian startups here.

Featured Image Credit: Jadi Batek

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(UEN 201431998C.)

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

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