BLAZING DESIRES

Angeline Khoo, the founder of online boutique Rosie On Fire, explains to The Peak what's driving her burning desire to create a fashion empire.  

Rosie on Fire on The Peak


"I always knew that I would end up doing something that would relate back to the family business, but there was also this burning desire to just go and do my own thing," states Angeline Kho as her deft hands get to work in placing the final touches on her ethereal creations. As the daughter of Tan Sri Dato' Dr. Khoo Kay Peng - founder of the Malayan United Industries Berhad (MUI) and major shareholder of British lifestyle brand Laura Ashley - it was only fitting that the 32-year-old would decide to set her sights on the glamorous world of fashion and retail. 

According to Khoo, the decision to pursue her dreams came to light on the day that she celebrated her 30th birthday. "I had always wanted to stat my own business, but back then the entire prospect just seemed so intimidating. Maybe it had to do with the lack of experience, not knowing how to get things done or not having the right connections. But when I turned 30, I was surprised by how much time had flown by and realised I was in fact the one holding myself back from accomplishing this dream. The pieces of the puzzle were already there, so it was up to me to be brave and just go for it. It was really a 'now of never; kind of moment."

ALL FIRED UP

After spending a year researching and planning, the fruits of Khoo's labour would finally pay off in December 2014 with the launch of Rosie On Fire - an online store that retails trandy kimonos designed with the modern woman in mind. "Traditional kimonos usually have these straight cuts at the bottom, which gives it a more robe-like appearance. We decided to design ours with a drape, just to make it more distinctive. The design is also really flattering for all kinds of body types and shapes which allows the wearer to accentuate her favourite assets."

While the modern kimono trend might have a steady following overseas, Khoo was surprised to learn that it had yet to make a splash in Malaysia. Light and airy, these garments come in a variety of styles, colours and patterns. The materials used also make it the perfect fit for this country's hot and humid climate. "The materials are sourced from various suppliers throughout Asia. There's lightweight chiffon, which can easily be slipped inside a purse without having to worry about it wrinkling. We also offer designs in silk that just drapes over the body in such an elegant way." 

While most of the business' main activities are conducted online, the brand has recently started launching pop-up stores in Klang Valley as a way of interacting directly with potential customers. "It feels quire surreal to create something and see someone else enjoying the final product. 

Even if they don't buy anything, it's always so exciting just to see them trying on the kimonos."

As with any fledgling start-up, there are always challenges to be faced. "It took me a while to familiarise myself with how business is conducted here in Malaysia, just trying to understand and adapting to all these changes. I've been fortunate because, not only are my parents from here, but I also have a good support group. It's all about knowing who you can trust for the most basic of things and having the right support system has made it a little easier."

PAYING IT FORWARD

To truly understand what makes Rosie On Fire stand out in a sea of start-ups, one would have to delve into what goes on behind the scenes. "A portion of our garments are actually made by single mothers and women from low-income families, people who are often marginalised by the social system. We want to provide them with the opportunity to earn some income and support their families." As for the muse behind Khoo's mission to do good, she credits her mother, the former Malaysian beauty queen Pauline Chai. "Since she has always been involved in human rights groups, I too wanted to do something that could help out others in some way."

The company has plans to hire members of the autistic community and provide them with roles that will harness their strengths. "Since my younger brother is also autistic, I can relate to the challenges that they face in everyday life. But they can also excel at certain areas, and work really well with routine or doing things that take a lot of time and patience. My little brother is already helping out with the packing,steaming and ironing. He finds it calming because he knows what needs to be done next because the steps are already there." And with Khoo lighting the way, we can't wait to see what other surprises she'll be pulling out fro her sleeves!


Source : The Peak