“Working in Commenhers has been a really meaningful journey for me where I get the chance to unleash my creativity and advocate for Singaporeans to adopt a sustainable lifestyle.” – Nuryanee Anisah
Whimsical Wonderland Art Market celebrates creatives for their innovation and determination to pursue their artistic passion in a collective space. In collaboration with the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisation, Whimsical Wonderland Spotlight gets up close and personal to uncover the inspiring stories and creative minds behind female artisans in the local arts and culture scene. We interviewed the co-founder of Commenhers, Nuryanee, to find out more about her journey to create a sustainable lifestyle brand that gives new life to unwanted clothes.
How did you get into the craft?
Commenhers is a brand that upcycles fabric waste into upcycled apparel accessories. Going to the thrift store and thrifting was introduced to me at a young age, before the buzz of thrifting. I started picking up sewing as a new hobby during the covid-19 circuit breaker as I wanted to learn how to upcycle some of my second-hand clothing. Moreover, I was also a business student specializing in entrepreneurship which sparked me to start a business in this area.
How has the brand grown from when you first started?
I used to be a full-time artisan where I sew all of the products that I sold in Commenhers. However, now, I hire local housewives or tailors to sew my products. This way I get to support another social cause and scale up the business. This also enables me to spend my time improving the business while juggling my role as a university student. I do still sew when I have to design new products for Commenhers.
What is your source of inspiration?
I love observing my surroundings and looking at what people wear. I also join upcycling Facebook groups (i know boomer things for a gen z!) where people from all over the world share their sewing upcycled projects.
What is your favourite aspect of your craft? What is your biggest takeaway from practising your craft?
(My favourite aspect of the craft is) the good cause that it brings to planet earth which brings meaning to my life. (Through my craft), it enables me to meet people from different backgrounds.
What challenges do you face in the local arts scene as a female artisan and/or in a more traditionally ‘pragmatic’ society such as Singapore?
I have so far never encountered a barrier because of my gender. However, being in the art industry makes me realise that there are many small local brands or artists that do not get the limelight. Moreover, it takes a lot to persuade and educate people to adopt a sustainable lifestyle by purchasing sustainable and ethical fashion brands.
Who are your pillars of support?
I believe my ultimate pillar of support would be my mum. She has been my number one supporter since day one. She inspires me to step out and up of my comfort zone and will always encourage me to never give up.
What is your definition of equal space, equal voice and equal worth?
When everyone no matter the race, gender, sexuality, or ability is given a chance to shine.
How do you support gender equality?
We sell items that are gender-neutral and suitable for both men and women. Commenhers stands for commonly liked items for both men and women.
What is your hope for women in the future?
With the world becoming more aware and more inclusive, I hope to see more women coming together to support one another. Life doesn’t have to be a competition when we support one another and we rise together.
Do you have any advice to share with younger girls or other women who might be interested in learning a new craft, starting a side business, or just getting more involved in the local arts scene in Singapore?
It might be scary to try something new, but, never give up and try your best. Like the saying never be afraid to try something new as life gets boring when you stay within the limits of what you know.