Thread Talk with Farah and Tati, the Sisters Behind Hani Mokhta

Sisters know best.

Thread Talk is a series venturing into a designer’s inner workings and thoughts. Today, we have Farah and Tati Hani, the sister duo behind the local fashion brand Hani Mokhta, cultivating a following not just with its immaculate bespoke bridalwear but also versatile everyday wear.

Founded by sisters Farah and Tati Hani in 2018, Hani Mokhta started as a bridalwear brand born out of necessity when Tati failed to score herself a gown that she found desirable for her big day. The synergy between the sisters did not go unnoticed; while Farah took the creative wheel, her sister kept the business rolling. 

While the brand’s unconventional approach to bridal fashion has earned an ardent following, it recently transitioned from bespoke to prêt-à-porter. However, the sisters are well-versed enough to recognise that the road to success is everything but riding the trend wave or rushing in growth. “We are being gentle with ourselves,” Tati confessed. In a time when business and fashion are more fleeting than ever in a fast-paced environment, it’s refreshing to see the label playing at its own pace while pushing back against rigid nuptial conventions. 

We caught up with the sisters to talk about their brainchild, and how the label grew one step at a time, adapting to the change in business format and creative mindset—from retelling stories of others to sharing their voices through fashion.

How would you introduce Hani Mokhta to someone who isn’t familiar with the brand?

Tati (T): Everyday wearable pieces that you will treasure for years to come. Hani Mokhta ready-to-wear (RTW) is clothing you’d want to wear daily and beyond, while the bespoke collection is about creating a unique kind of magic that’s truly your own.

Both of you have been in the fashion industry even before founding Hani Mokhta. What was the turning point that led to starting your own brand?

Farah (F): We started young with Winkstick–our side business way back then–but we decided to go on with studying fashion; Tati in Fashion Marketing and myself in Fashion Design. 

T: We didn’t start a business of our own immediately post-graduation. Rather, we took our time to harness our skillsets and knowledge by working with other local designers and brands. The turning point was when I was planning my wedding back in 2017. Finding a bridal style that suited my vision and aesthetic was a challenge.

F: And that’s how we started Hani Mokhta—a brand that provides a unique point of view through bridal designs that are out-of-the-box compared to the existing bridalwear in the market. When the pandemic hit, we decided to pivot to RTW.

What are some of the pros and cons when it comes to working with your siblings? 

F: It’s a bonus for us—we’ve known each other the longest. There were highs and lows, but it helps that we share similar values and vision. Support and trust are the most crucial parts of managing a business to ensure that we execute our plans accordingly, so to have a partner who truly understands you is an advantage.

T: I’m not going to lie—we both have strong personalities but we complement each other well mostly because of our professional know-how. Cons, I guess boundaries are blurred and we have to constantly learn to separate professional from personal lives beyond office hours.

How long does it take for a Hani Mokhta wedding dress to be completed? Can you walk us through the process?

T: The timeline for our bespoke or bridal creations varies from dress to dress. However, a rough estimate puts the completion between three to four months from the confirmed order date.

F: It usually starts with a preliminary bespoke appointment with the bride so we can look into the bride’s vision for her wedding before exploring ideas. It’s a quintessential part of the process as this is when we get to meet the bride, understand her concerns, and come up with designs that would fit seamlessly into the bride’s expectations while retaining the brand’s vision.

I assume you’d adopt a different approach for the RTW—how long does launching a full collection take?

F: This is a tad trickier to lay out an exact timeline as it is our biggest collection of the year, which is usually festive (Eid/Raya). I’d normally come out with design sketches and ideas within the second quarter of the year. Once we’ve come to a mutual agreement, we’d go into the nitty gritty of making the collection—from sourcing materials to finally producing them. It takes about six months from the initial discussion to seeing the collection come to life.

T: Essentially, Farah is the brain behind our RTW. She’d sketch ideas and find inspirations, experiment, and create samples before sharing them with me. The marketing side only goes into full gear once the production is confirmed, from campaign strategising and planning to product and campaign shoots, not forgetting content scheduling. On top of that, there are also campaign launches to consider.

Of all the dresses you have made, which is the most memorable one—in a good or bad way?

F: This is a tough one—all the dresses we made are one of a kind, and we have fond memories and attachments to each dress. They carry different stories and depict our relationships with the brides.

T: I can’t pick a favourite, but I agree with Farah. We do get attached to each of our creations as it speaks to different precious moments we have created with all of our brides throughout the years. We’re also very lucky that these established relationships stand through time, as our brides become loyal friends to the brand.

Hani Mokhta is well-established today, but what would you do differently if given an opportunity?

T: Thank you so much for the high praise, but we feel like there is still so much more to do. We are being gentle with ourselves and we’re not as tenacious as our peers in terms of brand progression. If anything, we do feel like there’s more to explore especially now that we’re in the RTW scene. We reckon that there is more potential for diversification.

Looking back, what was your biggest challenge?

F: To remain creative while having to manage the backend on one hand, and looking out for the brand’s future direction on the other. As the Creative Director, wearing multiple hats is my biggest challenge.

T: Running a business comes with its daily challenges. Truth be told, there’s no time to look back when you’re busy putting out fires every day. Where Hani Mokhta is now, all my attention is channelled towards ensuring that we can sustain while providing our customers with the best value in terms of products and services.

What is something that you have always wanted to do with the brand, but currently lack the resources to do so?

F: We would love to explore creating interactive and engaging pop-ups a la the fashion scene in cities like Bangkok and Seoul.

T: Even though most of our customers shop online and virtually, it would be great if we could offer the Hani Mokhta retail experience across Malaysia.

Of all the facets in this business, which takes the utmost priority?

F: Currently, our focus is growing the ready-to-wear segment, which demands the most from myself, Tati, and the team. To do so, we are more selective with our bespoke creations now.  

T: We hope to find the capacity to grow our bridal line even more beyond full bespoke and customisation. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a future opportunity to explore a bridal ready-to-wear series for the destination brides.