Siti Sarah Binti Shah Nor, commonly known as Sarah Shah Nor was born on November 18, 1982 in Ipoh, Perak. She is the wife of Ashrul Rizal bin Sulaiman and mother to Rafiq Zulkarnain, (7) and Nadyne Zulfa, (4 months).
Where did it all begin?
I was an English lecturer at SEGi College from 2007-2008. I resigned a few months before I got married in 2008. 10 months later, Rafiq Zulkarnain was born.
My husband went offshore to work and loved to shop online. He then started the online business AMMARA, which became a hit among the online modest fashion followers in Malaysia. This was due to many reasons, but at the time, there were not many online local brands catering to the modest market. The brands that were then available were not unique in creating their designs- they were either made in China or Vietnam. Thus, we tapped into a niche market and pioneered the revolution of young, online brands becoming real business entrepreneurs. Consequently, many brands followed this trend like Calaqisya, Bella Ammara, Jubah Souq, Imaan Boutique, Naelofar Hijab and so many more- who are now huge in the modest market.
Where did your education begin? Favourite subject in school?
I graduated with a Bachelor of Honours TESL from Universiti Putra Malaysia. I have skills in PR and communications. In 2010, I launched my own brand called Ammara. I showcased collections at Islamic Fashion Festival, KL Fashion Week, Malaysian International Fashion Week, Hari Kraf Kebangsaan, Hari Batik Malaysia and also the International Platform, Melbourne Fashion Week. My styling skills form part of my passions and naturally, I became skilled in marketing and brand management.
I became Vice President of AMAED (Association of Muslim Apparels Entrepreneurs and Designers). AMAED is an association initiated by Islamic Fashion Festival’s founder Dato Seri Raja Rezza Shah, to combine all modest designers and entrepreneurs in establishing a better market for Malaysia and worldwide. AMAED has become the biggest part of Islamic Fashion Festival and our members have showcased modest collections in Kuala Lumpur, Bali, Jakarta, London, Milan, Dubai, New York, and Istanbul. As the Vice President, I have managed Islamic Fashion Festival (IFF) Kuala Lumpur 2014, and IFF Perlis 2012.
Sarah arranged a fashion event, called Reflection, which was held in Publika, Damansara, in 2012. The event hosted 20 young online fashion and lifestyle bloggers turned designers. 537 people came for the show, every media outlet in KL attended, and the coverage was huge. Each brand had their own booth. Our VIP guests were Hana Tajima, who flew all the way from London exclusively for the event; Vivy Yusof (then only a blogger, now Fashion Valet founder); and a few Indonesian Bloggers or hijabers.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
When I’m not with my family, I like to read, from books and magazines to blogs. I also like to keep fit through dancing. Also, I love to learn everything pertaining to fashion styling, which is why I initiated the term #modvierpairings, where we style a few brands together in one look on our instagram and Facebook sites.
What made you want to launch a concept store like Modvier?
I’ve always loved fashion, and even more so ever since I started my brand Ammara in 2010. I felt that people love a one stop centre to shop rather than walking from one shop to another. I loved the idea of customer sharing and shopping at multi labelled stores. Furthermore, I felt that brands can learn from each other in a shared community.
In 2013, I diversified business strategies and started Modvier, a multi label store based in Bangsar. After the opening and consequent success of the vendor boutique layout, Bangsar became a prominent midrange shopping hub for modest, modern women. As a result of this success, many brands that stocked in Modvier also started their own multi label stores. These include:
1. Eliya Boutique opened SHOPAT22 in Bangsar,
2. Rico Rinaldi opened PHYSICON in Bangi,
3. Ilham Echenta opened DAMURA in Bangi, and
4. Puteri Sarah who worked for Eliya Boutique opened SHARA in Bangsar
Mrs Shah Nor started, managed and improved Modvier alone for 2 years before her husband, Ashrul Rizman bin Sulaiman, became Modvier’s CEO. Modvier is known as a link to everyone in the industry, and are key players in the fashion arena especially the modest market in Malaysia.
What is the most rewarding part of starting your own business and especially a new concept store such as Modvier?
The brands that are available at Modvier now were all people I grew up with. We were friends and we understood the need to grow bigger together. So it seemed easy, alhamdulillah, to have all these brands within the Modvier family.
What are your visions for Modvier?
In the future, with God’s Will, I would like to expand this vendor boutique store into Singapore, Brunei, and London. Modest fashion is everywhere and it’s about time we make it more accessible!
So, where to now? What are your future plans?
Currently, I’m working on a few projects, including nurturing new businesses and creating more platforms for local and international businesses.
Ashrul Rizal bin Sulaiman: CEO
Ashrul Rizal bin Sulaiman was born on January 17, 1982 as the youngest in his family. He went to primary school in Bandar Baru Bangi, secondary school at Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) until the end of SPM. He played Rugby for MCKK and also won the first ever match against Thailand to become the first champion team in 100 years!
Where did your tertiary studies begin?
Well, I went to University of Technology Malaysia with a Bac. Hons of Mechanical Engineering, with a scholarship from SHELL. I graduated in 2003 and landed a job at Baker Hughes as a Drilling Engineer. In 2008, I joined Sarawak Shell Berhad. I worked offshore for 10 years, and in 2014 I moved to Petrofac Sdn Bhd as a Senior Drilling Engineer.
At the end of 2015, I resigned and joined Modvier. Under my management, Modvier transformed into a well-established company, renamed Modvier Sdn Bhd. Since then, I have been CEO of Modvier.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I like to read a lot, play games and different types of sports. I also enjoy watching movies in my downtime. My passion is learning about all types of business, particularly Agriculture and Education.
What are you in charge of, as Modvier CEO?
I am in charge of managing Modvier’s finances and accounts, and giving my wife the support she needs. I also assess business situations and put structures, routines and measures in place to ensure the continual growth of our company.
What changed in Modvier when you began to manage it with your wife?
Modvier is a multi-label store and it has a huge following and online presence. When I came in, I restructured Modvier to become the best multi labelled service company, providing the best service for brands. Not only that, but I also helped to improve profit flow and provide value added services to the team, our vendors and also to our customers. I was another strong pillar of support for Sarah and employed multiple expansion strategies.
Words by Fadilla Abdullah