The fresh outdoors, designing and sustainably re-crafting vintage kimono… The designer shares her schedule with us.
I wake early most mornings with the help of a strong coffee. I live in a leafy area, in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur, where dog walkers and exercisers regularly walk past my house. They inspire me to try and spend some time outside and breathe in the fresh air – it really is the best part of the day to be outside. Before I founded Moniko, I had time to indulge in other arty projects, and one of my successes was an outdoor table, which I crafted out of tiles. I now like to spend time sitting at this hand crafted table, getting ready to spring into action!
During the week, I’m not really a breakfast person so I plough straight into my work. A lot of the preparation work for production is done at home; as this is where I still store the entire incoming kimono collections. I am very hands-on and I personally cut the Kimono and Obi fabrics for each of the clutch designs and photograph each one prior to production. This is because my team of artisans work from the pictures I send them rather than a fixed pattern, in order to showcase each patterned piece of fabric at it’s most spectacular and unique.
After a morning of hands-on cutting and designing I head to my office, cum workshop, cum stockroom, at Publika, which is about a 10-minute drive away from home. The complex has a great selection of independent shops and too many good places to eat! So this is where I usually have lunch each day, either on my own for some peace and quiet or with one of my regular customers who has come to see new pieces.
After lunch I tend to do an hour or so of admin most days from the office to keep up to date with my growing business and the growing amount of paperwork! To keep my work and creative life balance I spend the rest of the afternoon at my sewing machine in the workshop, or experimenting with new kimono or obi fabrics. Despite Moniko growing I still make all of the design prototypes myself before handing them to my team of artisans who have the better skills to execute the quality Moniko is known for.
Maybe because I’m a water rat, I like to fit in a swim a few times a week on thunderstorm free afternoons! I’ve not yet mastered the art of meditation, however swimming does allow me to blank out a lot of the noise and focus on my breathing and my stroke. I will usually swim for about 30 minutes – around 1km distance.
In the evening, I typically relax at home with my hubby and 2 boxer dogs. I enjoy cooking, but tend not to cook much during the week as we eat out often at one of the many great bars and restaurants within minutes of our house. Where we live in Damansara Heights, there is a really good community where we are always bumping into people we know, and inevitably end up having a drink and chat with them.
Before I go to bed each night I try to write a to do list to clear my mind as I find that it stops me from thinking about work during the night. I used to keep a pen and paper by the bed in case I had any ideas during the night, but I now just make any design notes on my phone for those 3am moments of inspiration!
About The Boutique : MONIKO
Clare Smith founded Moniko in 2011 after falling in the love with the exquisite beauty of Kimono during her first visit to Japan. Over the years the appreciation of the Kimono has faded, therefore Moniko’s mission is to celebrate Kimono and Obi design and recraft these colourful pieces into classic clutch bag designs and accessories that compliment any modern day outfit.