We had the good fortune of connecting with Munirah Rimer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Munirah, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Life is a risk, isn’t it? The definition of risk is a situation involving exposure to danger which for me means moving out of my comfort zone. I was born and raised in Malaysia. At the tender age of 13, I moved from the family home which is on a fruit orchard in northern Malaysia to a boarding school in Kuala Lumpur. I excelled as a student and survived boarding school before making the big decision to attend the University of Miami. Though moving to Kuala Lumpur was a big move, moving to Miami was enormous. What was I to expect in the United States? Over twenty years later, I’m still here in Miami and for the last four years I’ve dedicated my life to connecting back to my Malaysian roots by teaching batik art – before the pandemic in my home studio – and now virtually throughout the United States via Zoom. I think this life experience taught me that even though risk is present in most situations, I have the ability to manage that risk and turn the situation into a positive experience. The secret? Hard work. By anybody’s estimate, I am a hard worker. I am not scared to put in the time that is required to become successful. On the Chinese calendar, I was born in the Year of the Ox which seems appropriate given my oxen work ethic. Yes, I can be a bit stubborn and I’ll just go at it until I get the outcome I want. Taking calculated risks is important for personal and business growth. It’s healthy. Even if you don’t get the outcome you expected, you become wiser.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Batik art is an ancient art that is part of my Malaysian cultural identity, but batik is not limited to Malaysia. I have traveled throughout the world including Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, Malaysia (of course), and Uganda to expand my knowledge of batik making, tools and techniques in each region. I have taken all of this experience and curated it into my teaching. I love sharing this knowledge. I started teaching batik as part of a fundraising event for Joshua’s Heart Foundation and realized I had a passion for the process. I moved on to teaching at art studios throughout South Florida. A few years ago, Airbnb created an Experiences platform that allows travelers to connect with local artists. I taught a very successful Airbnb Experience in my home studio in Aventura. The pandemic halted those experiences and I was challenged to create a virtual platform for my teaching. With hard work and smart thinking, I have been able to continue bringing the joy of batik to students all around the United States through an online batik hoop painting workshop workshop taught via Zoom. I can’t wait, though, until I am able to travel again (Japan, India…!) and learn even more about batik. The first word of my company name, Teratai Malaysia, translates to lotus. And like a lotus, I aim to continually grow and blossom.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
That’s a funny question right now! Right now, I think I’d take them to my kitchen to make some amazing Malaysia food (nasi lemak, roti jala, and rendang, anyone?) and, perhaps a brisk walk in the park with proper social distancing! A few months ago (and hopefully soon) I would have suggested around the North Miami Beach area: Panya Thai in North Miami for amazing Thai food; PhoMi2Go for a proper Vietnamese pho or vermicelli salad; Krakatoa in Hollywood for Indonesian cuisine; and Kingston Delight for the occasional Jamaican fix. I think some of these are open for take-out now! I’m also a huge music fan so the North Beach Bandshell is a must (shout out to GroundUP Music Festival and Rhythm Foundation) and the NuDeco Ensemble is fabulous. Other venues include the rooftop at The Citadel in Little River and a little further north in Boca Raton, I enjoy the Funky Biscuit. But, I have to admit I really enjoy spending time with students and travelers in my home studio creating art and memories.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There’s so many that deserve credit and recognition in my life – perhaps everyone! I learn so much from my students and customers – so a big shout out to them! But without a doubt, my parents were an enormous influence in molding my my work ethic and how I perceive myself as a business owner. I also need to shoutout to all of the other batik artists for the inspiration and knowledge sharing. My children are also enormously supportive and encouraging. I think my youngest is an aspiring batik artist herself! Shoutout to the three of you! Oh, and having a supportive boyfriend is a plus particularly when he has mad e-commerce skills!
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