Year 6 is often a daunting time for new teens – at least academically – as thousands sit for their Primary School Assesment (PSR) to enter secondary education.
11-year-old Adriana Farhana Wardi was just as serious as any of her classmates leading up to the PSR exams last year, but she was also paying close attention to the latest developments in the Sultanate – where unemployment and entrepreneurship are at the forefront of the national agenda.
“I’m very focused academically, but I know that just qualifications alone won’t be enough after graduation,” says Adriana, now a Year 7 student in Maktab Sains Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan. “I must learn beyond the classroom. And seeing many Bruneians brave enough to start their own business, I was inspired and wanted to try as well.”
Adriana was already baking pastries and biscuits at the time, which she sold at small school events – but given the outlay and manpower needed to bake commercially – she decided to try selling headscarves instead.
“We did not know at first if it would gain a following,” said her parents. “So we told her that we would loan her a few hundred dollars to get the first order, and see how it would do from there.”
Adriana’s first order was 60 basic plain shawls from Malaysia – made of a chiffon material, which she sold for $7 each, initially to classmates and extended family members. She worked on developing her brand identity, which she named Adreana Shawls and bore a floral, feminine aesthetic as she began to sow on a small brand emblem on each headscarf.
“Because there’s so much choice of headscarves out there it really comes down to how good is the quality, price and style,” said Adriana. “I try to take notes on what is trending in headscarf wear and pay close attention to what people like to wear, and personally experiment with what’s comfortable to wear every day.”
After selling out her first 60, Adriana decided to import in more colours, while also adding a few intricate, printed designs. But to really build her own brand identity, she needed to develop a signature line that would be unique, yet retain a “simple elegance”.
She eventually decided on trying stitched on beads and floral patterns on the corner of each headscarf (pictured above) that would provide an understated accent to an otherwise plain headscarf.
“I worked with local designers and tailors to come up with the final product,” said Adriana. “This being our higher end line (between $25 to $45), the material is better, and the design stitched on by hand. We also decided to make each headscarf (pattern) different, so no two designs are alike.”
To date, Adreana Shawls has sold a hundred of her new beaded headscarf line, along with several hundred basic shawls. The 12-year-old has now converted a small living room at her family’s home in Madang into a showroom and office, enabling potential customers to browse and test the scarves in person.
“I’ve also added a few items that go along with the headscarves like the snow cap (typically worn under the headscarf), brooches and pins as well as hand sanitizers and cutout designs that you can iron onto any fabric.
“There’s so much trial and error that has to be done for the business to work,” she added, as she has to quickly learn how to manage her time between her studies and growing the business. “So I’m glad and grateful that my parents allowed me to start this early.”
To learn more follow @adreanashawls on Instagram and contact +6738341771 or +6738641800 to get in touch directly.