YAYA ZAHIR has always had a creative nature, which explains her decision to pursue a degree in architecture. She even began working as an interior designer for about a year.
However, the 29-year-old decided to switch careers five years ago, after being approached by a local television network. She completed a five-month training programme in order to begin a new career as a full-time television host.
Yaya is also an entrepreneur, and collaborates with her helicopter pilot husband, Arizz Azim, to bring South Korean street-style inspired clothing to our doorsteps.
Founded in 2018, Asly is a local fashion brand that produces oversized tops that come in various shades, emblazoned with their logo.
Yaya shares how she and Arizz work together to make Asly a reality.
“Arizz manages everything, like, the upcoming stuff and documentation. For me, I handle the creative part, like the designing, but sometimes he gives his opinions on the designs too.”
Growing up with stylish parents, Yaya takes delight in experimenting with her fashion.
“I’ve always been drawn to fashion since I was a little girl. My mum used to dress me up, and my dad on the other hand was a biker, so I would see him with boots or a leather jacket.”
She also revealed how the brand got its name.
“When I was thinking about the name of my brand, I wanted something simple. Well, the process of shaping the brand took me two weeks, I was looking for the overall appearance and feeling of the brand.
“I have always been drawn to people who have their own personality, authenticity, their own style. Also, I think growing up, I used to dress weirdly, like, I always mixed-and-matched random pieces and people would be like: ‘What are you wearing?!’. But that’s just me, you know?
“So because of that, I wanted my brand to have the meaning of originality, and I somehow thought of ‘asli’, but I changed the ‘i’ to ‘y’, because of my name, Yaya!”
Since Yaya’s job requires her to travel around the globe, she has had multiple opportunities to observe the unique style of people from different places.
However, the style that caught her eye the most was that of people in Seoul, South Korea.
“I always go to Seoul and I was very inspired by how the Koreans wore their daily wear with, like, oversized t-shirts. So I brought it back here to (Malaysia).”
This style trend also went hand-in-hand with Yaya’s own love for oversized clothes.
Initially, the collection was targeted at both men and women, but Yaya realised that being the brand’s ambassador affected the target market.
“My clothes are actually unisex but somehow I think since I am the face of the brand, I get more female customers, in comparison to male customers.
“I think because my clothes are quite modest so the girls who wear hijab love our clothing, as it is not too revealing.”
Although the couple is still in the process of setting up Asly’s first brick-and-mortar store, Yaya and Arizz aim to reach for the stars with their brand.
“My husband and I aim for the brand to go global in the near future. Do you know the designer of the brand Self-Portrait, Han Chong, who is from Malaysia? Also like Jenn Low, from Wanderlust + Co. I aspire to be like them.
“It’s a bigger world out there. When I travelled for work, I had the opportunity to meet founders of brands such as Urban Decay and Kiehl’s. It was very mind-blowing and I feel like, if I work harder and I genuinely love what I do, I can be as big as those brands.
“But of course, it took them years to build their brand into what it is today”.