The feminine strength behind the successful venture, A & R Fashion
Kickstarted on 10th October 2016 as a sole proprietorship, A & R Fashion deals in the Wholesale & Retail of garments.
The company started by selling the best quality Arabic garments like Abaya, Kurta, Jubah, and related accessories, all imported from Dubai. Their brand name, Sarong by A & R, is carried by all their boutiques. All their Muslim garments retail between RM10, the lowest, to RM120, the highest. The company lives by the principle, “Quality doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive”.
The most significant breakthrough was to become an authorized supplier of the Aeon Big Hypermarket Malaysia by signing a contract in 2016 for its carpets and rugs ranges, as well as fashionable Islamic clothing for men, women and kids too. Besides that, they also have their outlet showcasing their carpet range, The Carpet Boutique.
The year 2020 gave them a chance to venture into a new business concept, The Black Hanger by A & R, whereby they sell mixed garments at prices as low as RM1 to a maximum of RM40. They’re planning to expand by opening promotion space in Shopping Malls.
About the founder
A & R fashion founder, Bibi Rosma Mam Shah, nicknamed Rosma, was born on 06th January 1981. A married woman, and a mother of 2 sons, she’s the brain behind this successful venture.
The idea to start A & R was fueled when she fell in love with abaya in 2012. The restriction of Abaya to Dubai and the Middle East topped with a high price motivated her to give its access to the middle-income groups at an affordable price.
Being a family-oriented person and a tough person, she believes in shouldering responsibilities and likes facing challenges. Moreover, nothing parallels the joy of working in the comfortable environment of her own company.
She believes rebranding to SARONG by A & R helped a lot in growing her brand. The post-pandemic era saw the rise of their business reach via social media platforms like FB LIVE, IG LIVE.
With her faith in God and a positive outlook, along with the support of her family, she knows how to maneuver through rough times.
The most satisfying moment for her was when she got a chance to connect with a successful person like Mr. Shafie Samsudin, AEON Retail CEO Malaysia.
She considers herself blessed and feels there is still a long way to go. On any bad day, she looks back at the journey she’s covered and strives to give her best by not quitting.
Her message to all the women is never to let our emotions overpower our intelligence.
Interview with the founder
WOM: What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?
Rosma: My family is the main reason I am responsible for them, and I am the type of person who likes to face different challenges. And I'm very comfortable working in my own company, having my own way, work style, and team.
WOM: When did you get your first breakthrough, and how did that happen?
Rosma: Alhamdulillah, rebranding did help us a lot. Using A&R as our signboard, it doesn't sound catchy, so I gave our garment a brand name SARONG by A&R; I hope to go further with this. At first, our social media platform wasn't meant for selling as we believe in an offline retail type of business. But when the COVID-19 pandemic happened, we have to cooperate with social media as our selling platform like FB LIVE, IG LIVE to make people aware that we are in the market. And Alhamdulillah, we have managed to get their attention.
WOM: Have you ever been in a situation where you utterly burned out from your work? How did you overcome the stress?
Rosma: As an entrepreneur, I've been in this situation more than anything. But whenever I feel burned out from my work, all I do is look back at the reason why I started this business, especially my family and my parents; I always believed that whatever situation is, it is a test from Allah S.W.T, and I’ll just look on the bright side and be positive. When I'm stressed or feeling burned out, I will always think of my parents, they are my significant contributors to the business, and I believe that Allah S.W.T will always be by your side when we take good care of our family.
WOM: Have you ever experienced a time when things didn't go the way you wanted--like a goal you set or a project that didn't turn out how you had hoped. How did you deal with it?
Rosma: As an entrepreneur, of course, this kind of situation happens to me a lot. But I always look on the positive side; why everything that I had planned didn’t turn out the way I wanted. The most important thing that I believe is that everything happens for a reason. Maybe the project didn't turn out the way that I wanted to be because I deserved better, and there are always good things that might happen if that project fails for some reason. I just can't give up, and I'm not a quitter.
WOM: What's the most incredible thing someone has ever done to/for you?
Rosma: Alhamdulillah, I've been surrounded by a lot of good people and my family. I always keep my circle small because I don't want any negative people, negative energy, and drama in my environment. When I look back, there were two people that I've considered as an outsider and then became like a family, they are my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. They took care of me when I had my first pregnancy, and at the same time, I was having a struggling moment while opening this business, and sometimes I had to go out and attended some promotion events. I had to drive my company van at that time. And I still remember that moment during Raya Haji 2017; my husband and I drove all day long from Batu Pahat and back to Bangi. What happened was my mother-in-law and sister-in-law weren't asleep and waited for me. As I go into the house, they took some body oil and massaged my shoulder and feet; at that time, I was in about eight-month-plus pregnant.
WOM: What has been the most satisfying moment in your business?
Rosma: Alhamdulillah because of this business I get to know Mr Shafie Samsudin , AEON Retail CEO Malaysia. I believe that it is an achievement for myself personally and my business as well.
WOM: What do you do for encouragement or to be motivated?
Rosma: I will look back at my first intention and motivation and look at where I am today. I also look back at my central pillar, my parents, of course. All the people around me are always encouraging me and always make me feel like I need to provide for them more and more.
WOM: Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Rosma: I am so blessed, but I consider myself far from success; you need to aim high, have the urge to do it and push further. I believe life has two rules, first things first is to never quit, and the second one is always to remember the rule number 1, and that's it.
WOM: Lastly, is there any personal message or advice you would like to share with all the women out there in Malaysia?
Rosma: We are sensitive, and our emotions can be unstable. But that’s what makes us women unique! So, the most important thing that we need to remember no matter the situation is to never let our emotions overpower our intelligence. And I always believe that if we do good to people, then good things will come to you. Never forget the Almighty.