Thriv­ing on ink

> Draw­ing strength from their pas­sion, this cou­ple is per­fect­ing their art down to a

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FASHION - BY YEO CHIA HUI

HAN­NAH Bhatt and Sa­muel Chew love Amer­i­can tra­di­tional tat­toos and they are tak­ing this in­ter­est of theirs one step fur­ther. In ad­di­tion to ink­ing it onto their body – they each have four al­ready – they in­cor­po­rated it into a life­style brand, The Covert Col­lec­tive (TCC), through their fash­ion col­lec­tions.

A lo­cal brand that com­bines street wear and art, it es­pouses a bold and coura­geous mes­sage with its fun, unique and quirky pieces.

“Since we are in­spired by Amer­i­can tra­di­tional tat­toos, you’ll see de­tailed il­lus­tra­tions with thick lines. Our de­signs are also slightly odd be­cause we do not like to con­form to the or­di­nary. In­stead, we want to use our de­signs to en­cour­age peo­ple to think out of the box,” ex­plained Bhatt, the cre­ative brain be­hind the la­bel.

The cou­ple, who got en­gaged re­cently, em­barked on this ven­ture on a part-time ba­sis to fill in the gap in the Malaysian cloth­ing scene.

“Sa­muel loves street clothes and we like this brand in the United King­dom that uses Amer­i­can tra­di­tional tat­toos in their t-shirts too. With this in mind and con­sid­er­ing how most lo­cal brands fo­cus on slo­gan tees, we de­cided to set up an artsy street wear la­bel,” she said.

“Another rea­son why we founded TCC is to have an out­let for Han­nah’s cre­ativ­ity. She’s in TO charge of de­sign­ing the clothes while I man­age the ad­min­is­tra­tive side of the busi­ness,” added Chew.

It took the duo a three-month prepa­ra­tion pe­riod be­fore launch­ing the brand in De­cem­ber 2015. Twelve months later, TCC now has three col­lec­tions de­spite be­ing a side gig for them. Bhatt is a law grad­u­ate-turned mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tive while Chew works in a lo­gis­tics com­pany. They both agreed that jug­gling their jobs and TCC in­volves “many sleep­less nights”, but it’s “pos­si­ble if you set your sight on suc­cess and stick to it”. Tran­si­tion­ing their re­la­tion­ship into a busi­ness part­ner­ship is also a new ter­rain that re­quires un­der­stand­ing and com­pro­mis­ing. “Although it can get hard at times, we try our best to re­mem­ber that busi­ness is busi­ness; hence we do not take things per­son­ally. It also helps that we han­dle dif­fer­ent as­pects of the busi­ness so it min­imises con­flicts. As such, un­less she asks for ad­vice, I won’t tell her what to do when it comes to de­sign­ing,” re­vealed Chew. As they worked to­gether on build­ing a bet­ter fu­ture for them­selves and their busi­ness, they are also striv­ing to give back to so­ci­ety through the Covert Gives col­lec­tion. A 100% non-prof­itable line, the rev­enue gen­er­ated will be do­nated to char­ity. And their first part­ner­ship is with Te­na­ganita (pix) to raise aware­ness on hu­man traf­fick­ing. The lat­ter is a Malaysian hu­man rights or- gan­i­sa­tion ded­i­cated to pro­tect­ing mi­grants, refugees, women and chil­dren.

“Peo­ple are gen­er­ally clue­less about hu­man traf­fick­ing, es­pe­cially in Malaysia, and we want to change that. We’ve al­ways wanted to help vic­tims of hu­man traf­fick­ing and have been fol­low­ing Te­na­ganita for quite some time, thus when we started TCC, we thought it’d be a great plat­form for us to play our part,” dis­closed Bhatt.

For this al­tru­is­tic pair, it is only the be­gin­ning.

“The Covert Gives will be an on­go­ing cam­paign ded­i­cated to Alex Chai char­ity where it’ll re­main 100% non-prof­itable. As such, there will be sim­i­lar part­ner­ships with other non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions (NGOs) in the fu­ture,” Chew added.

TCC is fairly new in the in­dus­try, and may have to fend off another chal­lenge or two in their quest to es­tab­lish them­selves as a heavy­weight, but what it has go­ing for it are founders who are am­bi­tious, de­ter­mined and gen­er­ous. So long as Bhatt and Chew stay true to this com­bi­na­tion, their dream of mak­ing TCC suc­cess­ful won’t re­main as one.

Colin Sim and Shir Chong. Ethan Chu and Ahya Rosli. Wee Chee and Ein Tan. Min Luna and Deanna Ibrahim.


Sa­muel Chew (left) and Han­nah Bhatt estab­lished The Covert Col­lec­tive as a cre­ative plat­form.


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