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Dhaka Tribune

One for all

Tonyma Rahman, founder and head designer of Maaya discusses 20 years of affordable, accessible fashion

Update : 26 Jul 2020, 07:16 PM

For the last 20 years, Maaya has been crafting exceptional and exclusive fashion wear and accessories. A household name today, it stands out as a lifestyle boutique in Bangladesh that marries comfort and accessibility with trends. Tonyma Rahman, founder and head designer of the house, chats with us about where her brand has come in the past two decades.

What do you offer?

The outfits we create are mainly for women. We are intentionally small organization;Maaya works mostly with friends and family;maintaining a close relationship with our customers. 

Our collections include salwarkameezes, kurtis and sarees. Once in a while, we also make special matching combinations of the same product for children, mothers and fathers. 

The design patterns began with block prints, eventually leading to screen prints, machine embroidery, hand embroidery, zardosi etc. 

How do customers perceive Maaya as a brand?

When we say customers, we usually mean housewives, working professionals, teenagers, and students. A majority seem to repeat the word ‘wearable’ when it comes to our products. I believe it may be because of our consistent provision of unique designs. Not copied, never repeated. We have been around for almost 20 years now and have always maintained that standard. 

How did it all begin? 

I have always been interested with the fashion industry from myearly days. At a certain point in my life, I had to leave my job to attend to my baby son. When he was3 years old, mydear mother (Late Ivy Rahman, politician and social worker) inspired me to start something from home, putting my passion to tangible use.‘Why don’t you try giving a boutique?’ I remember her saying.She influenced me to take the leap. 

So I did. Funny thing is, I started from home, and am still operating fully from home. The workshop, warehouse, and design studio are all set up within my abode! 

What challenges did you face along the way?

Challenges in the beginning were mainly to attract customers. We never advertised much.Our products were of quality at affordable prices, so I was lucky they sold themselves.

Is there a product customers particularly love? 

Our screen prints. Repeating here, but customers always appreciated the uniqueness of our designs and were surprised that the fabric colours ‘didn’t run.’This meant you could wear our products for years and the colours wouldn’t fade. Prices are affordable too, majority being inside the BDT 2500 to BDT 4500 range. 

How have you adapted to the pandemic as a fashion brand?

For the first time in 20 years, Maaya has gone online! We are now focusing mainly on low range products including screen prints, to offer affordable lines for Eid ulAzha. 

The pandemic has made us close our shop. At this very moment, our showroom shows not our products, but the integrity and passion of our artisans. Each of them wearing protection, practicing social distance and taking every precaution during deliveries. No one is left unpaid of their salary. No employee has been fired for low sales. We have even given them their Eid Bonuses. We shall strongly carry on to bring you the most unique of designs by our greatest assets; our people. 

They work at home with me now, and are treated like family. It reducesour cost, which allows their expenses to be prioritized and sustained. 

What would you advise to other fashion brands today? 

Simply that, I know there is no business. But we should stand by our artisans. They have been there for us constantly during the good times. We should not abandon them now, during the bad times. 

Anything you would like to say to your customers?

Yes, that the power of change is in your hands. You are contributing to the wellbeing of local artisans by buying fashion products. Not just from Maaya, but from all local brands. We depend on you for our income. Please think of our national artisans before making a conscious purchase as the source matters more than ever today. 

Also, stay home and safe. Shop online! 

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