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Three Ranau sisters keep handicraft heritage alive
Published on: Wednesday, March 03, 2021
By: Bernama
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Some of the handicrafts marketed by Olundus Craft.
RANAU: For a Dusun family residing in Kampung Taba here, about 142 kilometres from Kota Kinabalu, basket weaving is their traditional craft.  

While their forefathers weaved beautiful baskets out of rattan, these days, due to the difficulty in sourcing rattan locally, multi-coloured plastic strands are used to make elegant bags and baskets in various shapes and sizes.  

Three sisters belonging to the fourth generation of the family, who picked up the traditional weaving skills from their parents, are keeping the family heritage alive via their Olundus Craft venture which they started in September 2019 to supplement the family income.

Besides bags and baskets, Nimi Juaping, 29, Carolina Juaping, 27, and Parsia Juaping, 24, are putting their creativity into good use by making keychains, baby shoes and socks and hats and turbans out of embroidery yarn.  

Nimi, who has a degree in applied chemistry from Universiti Teknologi Mara Shah Alam, said she and her sisters ventured into the handicraft industry not because they could not find jobs but due to their inborn interest in crafting and desire to perpetuate their family legacy, especially after their father passed away in 2016.  

“We decided to use our talent to start a business under the guidance of our mother (Tarisah Kimin, 51),” she told Bernama, referring to their Olundus Craft venture.

Daily, they would spend about four hours learning to make handicrafts from their mother, Nimi added.

Their woven bags were the first to hit the market, she said, adding that they made 20 bags within four days and promoted them on their Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram accounts.

Their handicrafts are priced at between RM6 and RM55 each.

The plastic strands and other materials that they use to make the handicrafts are sourced from shops in Ranau town which, sometimes, run out of stock, thus putting the sisters in a dilemma.

Other challenges they face include stiff competition posed by other handicraft makers and the Covid-19 pandemic which has impacted their business.  

“Apparently, some customers are reluctant to order handicrafts from us as they are worried that the Covid-19 virus would be transmitted to them through our products!

“The demand for products that are made specially for functions (weddings) also reduced considerably as large gatherings are not allowed to be held,” said Nimi, adding that they used to earn a good income from their handicraft business before the pandemic struck.

Despite the challenges, Nimi and her sisters continue to promote and market their crafts on their social media sites.

And, instead of only focusing on making Dusun crafts, they have diversified their range of products.

Nimi said the Dusun community’s speciality used to be making duffel bags woven from rattan that were long-lasting and could be used to store items.

 “Nowadays we don’t use rattan but we still use the same weaving technique. We use traditional materials such as plastic strands and embroidery yarn to maintain the originality and quality of our family heritage crafts and to satisfy our customers,” she added. 



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