IWSTUDIO in New Straits Times
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Art of the bunting
Abdul Rauf Othman adds colour to weddings through his buntings, banners and more. He tells Izwan Ismail how technology has helped his printing business
THE small office at a shoplot in Section 15, Shah Alam is a hive of activities. Wedding buntings, in different sizes, designs and colours fill almost the entire floor.
Helped by his wife, Tuan Noorazienie, and his two assistants, Abdul Rauf Othman has his hands full sorting out online orders.
Though many of the weddings are still months away, the work has begun for the young entrepreneur.
Abdul Rauf owns a digital design and print business, specialising in wedding buntings. His venture into the business started when he sold T-shirts in his free time while studying at MRSM in Jasin, Malacca.
“I did it more for fun than anything else. But it gave me the experience for bigger business opportunities later,” he says.
He went on to do a Bachelor degree in Information Technology at Universiti Islam Antarabangsa. There, he was introduced to the world of desktop publishing, which allowed him to express his creativity in designing buntings.
“I was very excited about what software like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and In-Design could do,” says the father of a toddler who would spend hours surfing the Internet to learn more about such software until he mastered the techniques and came out with beautiful bunting designs at the click of the mouse.
“I would volunteer to make buntings for many campus activities and charged RM50 per bunting,” he says.
With his knowledge, Abdul Rauf began to design magazines for schools and faculties as well as T-shirts for student bodies.
An internship with Al-Hikmah Printing in Sungai Buloh in his final year was a blessing in disguise.
“I was lucky that the owner taught me the ins and outs of the printing business,” he says.
That was when he learnt all about the business — the materials used, networking, marketing, etc.
“The experience further exposed me to the opportunities in the industry,” says Abdul Rauf who set up IW Studio Biz in 2008.
PRINTING AND TECH
“Initially it was a challenge as I didn’t have a shop and many people did not know about my business,” he says, adding that his customers then were relatives, friends and lecturers.
Things started to change when he set up a portal called iwstudio.biz to enable online orders of wedding buntings. He also used the social media platforms like Facebook extensively to connect with customers. The iwstudio.biz FB page now has 1,800 fans and orders are coming in at a steady rate.
Abdul Rauf has also made the website interactive where in a forum, customers can ask about the products and services available, and make orders based on templates. With his online presence, his customers now come from all over the country and even as far as Brunei Darussalam.
To make the bunting designs more interesting, Abdul Rauf has partnered with freelance cartoonist Oly to create cartoon characters of the bride and groom for the buntings.
It normally takes three days to do a bunting from the date of the order.
Today, 95 per cent of his business come from online orders and Abdul Rauf has expanded his services to include invitation cards, money packets and posters.
He recently added wedding photography to the list and so is able to provide a one-stop bundled package to clients.
Abdul Rauf plans to organise a seminar on digital printing and its business opportunities.
“More players will make the industry bigger and create healthy competition,” he says.