From Datelines to designing

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Suhaimi Sulaiman has ventured into the fashion industry, designing and selling contemporary batik shirts online.Suhaimi Sulaiman has ventured into the fashion industry, designing and selling contemporary batik shirts online.Suhaimi Sulaiman has ventured into the fashion industry, designing and selling contemporary batik shirts online.

If you’ve watched local TV news, you would probably be familiar with the face, if not the name, of Suhaimi Sulaiman, who has been a fixture on Malaysian TV screens for the past quarter of a century.

Suhaimi began his broadcast journalism career in 1990 when he joined TV3 as a reporter and assistant producer. He began anchoring TV3 News in 1993, and in time produced and hosted a range of news and current affairs programmes.

He left the station in 2003 to start his own agency, providing editorial and content consultancy to various corporations. This lasted until 2007 when he was offered a job he couldn’t refuse when his good friend, Rozina Aziz, then the GM of Astro AWANI, to build the AWANI 24/7 news brand from scratch.

“I was one of the first few people hired by Astro in 2007 to start Astro AWANI,” he recalls. “As the executive producer, then, I mentored all the star anchors, coached the editorial team and led the 24/7 news and information channel team to excel in breaking news and 360 analysis.”

Suhaimi Editorial Meeting

Suhaimi Editorial Meeting

Early this year, he felt an itch to grow and expand in new areas – including those not related to media – so he left his high-paying job as Group Editor-in-Chief at Astro AWANI to re-try his hand in business.

“I want to grow faster than what I was able to at my old work place,” he explains. But he is quick to add that he left on a good note and that his former employer still engages him to provide media training for its communications team and channel heads.

Providing communications and media consultancy and training is a natural thing for him to do as it is what he is known for. But since leaving full employment, he has embraced entrepreneurship with gusto and is involved in two other businesses which are not related to current affairs or news media: batik and cats!

“I have ventured into the fashion industry, designing and selling contemporary batik shirts online under the Su & Ash brand,” he says. Suhaimi’s designs can be found at www.suandash.com.

“Su is for Suhaimi and Ash is my business partner Asyraf Amir,” he explains. “We wanted to offer a different kind of batik – minimalist designs and colours on linen. Our target customers are non-conformists who want something different and fun.  I would say 50% of our customers are friends, 30% friends of friends and the remaining 20% through word of mouth.”

The company does not have a physical outlet and sells purely online. Interestingly enough, many customers still want to do transactions in person. “Malaysians are funny,” says Suhaimi. “They see the catalogue online and then they will call you and want to meet you somewhere to collect the shirts and pay cash on delivery.  They somehow do not like paying online. Strange but true.”

Meow News

Meow News

His other venture is a side project called “Meow News” which features stories and information on cats and the people who love them. That website can be found at www.meow.com.my (pic).

“Entrepreneurship is about discovering many great qualities about yourself,” says Suhaimi. “I never knew I could come up with batik designs that can sell.  I never knew I could managing my own niche cat news website without the help of an IT team.  Entrepreneurship is about growth at the speed you are comfortable with.”

Although he’s just re-entered the entrepreneurship world, Suhaimi loves every moment of it. He believes he was meant to be an entrepreneur. “It’s something that’s in your DNA and it’s certainly in mine,” he says.

Oon Yeoh is a new media consultant.

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