Smashing gender barriers: Mahkota Design BN

Adika is the genius designer of shawls and scarves behind the ‘Mahkota Design BN’ brand (

You’re probably thinking to yourselves: “Wait a minute! Are you telling me that Adika’s a guy?”

Don’t worry. You’re not the only ones.

A female shopper at Aman Hills Shopping Centre that ‘Neue’ (@whatsneue) approached asked: “Why is he involved in the women’s clothing line?”

Kept his identity secret

Adika, who was one of the participating vendors of the ‘Brunch & Crafts’ that was held at the shopping centre’s Atrium last Sunday, said this was why there was a period of time when he did not disclose that he was the designer in the Instagram account of Mahkota Design BN.

“I also did not state my gender because I was afraid that people would not book a tudong (headscarf) with me,” he said.

Yuri of Kaleidoscope Studio ( – the facilitator of a brunch talk about Brunei’s craft industry last Sunday – found it hard to believe that in this day and age, people still had this kind of gender bias on who should be designing clothes or cooking.

“After all, we do have male chefs and female chefs. We also have men who are designers,” she said.

Adika said all this doesn’t bother him as much as it did in the past because those women who used to ask him THAT question don’t bother asking that question any longer after they have seen first-hand the quality of his work.

His workshops are always full house

Wan Nurul Naszeerah, the founder of BenchLab (, which hosts skills workshops by matching tutors with enterprising participants, vouched for Adika, saying that he is “so talented, much more talented than any other woman” she’s ever met.

“In fact, every workshop that Adika has done with BenchLab has had a full turn up. He’s a wonderful talent,” said Wan, who was one of the panelist members of the talk.

Adika runs the Mahkota Design BN business with two other friends, Nasroul Hizam and Md Sumardi – who are also males. (Does it still matter?)

Adika (left), the designer behind the ‘Mahkota Design BN’ brand, is pictured with his business partners, Nasroul Hizam and Md Sumardi

Speaking to ‘Neue’, the trio said: “Our business approach is different because we do not mass produce. We are focussed more on personalisation or special limited edition prints.”

So can males wear stuff from Mahkota Design BN? The trio said: “Yes! They can wear it as a cravat – a short, wide strip of fabric round the neck and tucked inside an open-necked shirt.”

Given the fact that all of Mahkota Design BN’s products are custom, they said: “Our designs are perfect for any occasion, even as wedding gifts! One of our approaches is to use people’s names as part of the design.”

Would you be interested in getting yourself a one-of-a-kind design by Mahkota Design BN?

Bubbles out of thin air: A soapmaker’s humble tale

What would you recommend to someone who wants to get rid of stress?

“Definitely something with lavender! This soap has very good quality lavender oil that came all the way from Croatia. It’s got milk in it and it’s creamy too!”

This was what Didi told ‘Neue’ (@whatsneue) at the ‘Craftworks Kitani’ (@craftworkskitani) gathering, where she was selling her home-made soaps at the atrium of Aman Hills Shopping Centre last Sunday.

Didi, who admits that she’s “obsessed” with skincare, had always wanted to try making her own soap.

“I never got around to getting all the ingredients in the past. With the support of my partner, Eze, I decided to pursue this,” she said.

However, both Didi and Eze agreed that it’s always wise to do extensive market research before launching a new business.

“As of yet, we have not set up a dedicated Facebook and Instagram account for this business,” they said, adding that it could tentatively be called ‘Bubble Bear Bathworks’. However, nothing’s finalised yet.

“We’ll update the public once we have a dedicated social media account for our home-made soap business,” they said. For now, the public can reach out to Didi via her other skin care Instagram account, @_neverendingsearch4hg.

“We are still in the experimental stage. We want to see how it goes … whether the people would buy our home-made soaps and what price range they are comfortable with. We’re also interesting in getting feedback from the public about our soaps.”

Humble beginnings

Nur Khalisah Ahmad, the founder of Kaleidoscope Studio (

Nur Khalisah Ahmad, the founder of Kaleidoscope Studio (, said Didi and Eze had in the past attended an insightful workshop conducted by Aloha Nature House (@alohanature_house.brunei).

She said: “Aloha Nature House was once a vendor that participated in one of Kaleidoscope’s past events, when we had a couple of pop-up sales. I suggested the founder of Aloha Nature House to conduct workshops, as she would not only be able to sell her own products and services, but also provide her clients with the raw materials so that they can make their own crafts.

“Fast forward to the future, Aloha Nature House has opened up its own beauty school. Both Didi and Eze had attended one of her workshops and they have started making their own soaps.

“Although we didn’t do all the work. It’s like sowing the seeds. And this is a really good example of how it is growing… that’s what we can do. We want people to come to these events to engage with the vendors and show them that their products are appreciated.”

Photos above & below: All smiles at the Craftworks Kitani photo booth

#StandOrange for a Cause

Hoco Agency team sporting the colour orange to show their support for orangutans

Hoco Agency’s (@hocoagency) rocking those orange colours to show support for a group of orangutan orphans in an awareness campaign (#StandOrange) they helped build for the upcoming docu-drama series, “Orangutan Jungle School” on the Love Nature 4k channel.

Yes, we’re talking about an actual school in the jungle, except this one’s for orangutans only. Orangutans who have lost their parents, relatives and friends to poachery and the pet trade. Orphans who now have to learn to survive before they can live free in the wild again.

That’s where #StandOrange comes in.

#StandOrange urges you to take a stand together, to show support and encouragement for a community that has suffered so much. To give these orangutans the spotlight they deserve on Love Nature 4k, by sporting an orange-coloured t-shirt as your ‘Outfit of the Day’ (#OOTD). Except, it could also mean ‘Orangutan of the Day’!

Would you like to #StandOrange and show your support too?

Well, you can do just that by simply digging up an orange shirt from the attic (like I did), wear it on August 4 (Saturday), snap a picture of yourself on Instagram, and hashtag #OOTD and #StandOrange. Oh, and be sure to tag @lovenature in your posts too!

Wear orange on August 4 (Saturday), snap a picture of yourself on Instagram, and hashtag #OOTD and #StandOrange. Don’t forget to tag @lovenature in your posts too!

Let’s work together in lending these unsung heroes of nature the voice and ears that they deserve.

By the way, if you can watch Love Nature 4k wherever you are and you’re reading this, you should definitely check out “Orangutan Jungle School” when it premieres on August 5.

I’m not kidding. Despite what these orangutans have gone through, they sure have got a lot of surprises left in them. I can’t remember how many times they made me laugh or cry, just by learning to move on in life without their parents.

Orangutan Jungle School

Love Nature 4K (@lovenature) will be launching a new docu-drama series about young, orphaned orangutans and their path towards rehabilitation so that they can one day live free in the wild again.

These beautiful, kind and gentle creatures will attend a special school called the “Orangutan Jungle School”, where graduation is a ticket into the deep, uncharted jungles of Borneo.

“Orangutan Jungle School” will follow the lives of this group of orphaned orangutans as they progress through a unique forest school system in Nyaru Menteng, Borneo, Indonesia.

Located in the region is the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF), an NGO that manages the largest primate rescue and rehabilitation project in the world.

The show will introduce audiences to BOSF’s team as they rescue these great apes that have been displaced from their habitat due to forest destruction, separation from their mothers or being kept illegally as pets, and teach them the necessary skills to return to the wild.

The orangutans have a chance for a future of freedom, but they must complete various stages of their education – including five stages of forest school and pre-release islands – which will cover the essentials for survival.

The docu-drama series also offers a deep insight into each orangutan personality (and there sure a lot of bright ones), while highlighting the plight this endangered species faces, and the fragile ecosystem in which these great apes live.

You can make a difference

You can help secure the future of orangutans. Every penny you donate – whatever gift you decide – will make a huge difference to preserving the lives of Bornean orangutans. If you would like make a donation to the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, click here.

Have you stolen before?

It’s not always free.

Some people in Brunei Darussalam may have unknowingly been skirting dangerously close with copyright infringement by using pictures taken from Google Images for their publications, websites, campaigns or promotions.

Did you know that just because it’s on Google, doesn’t mean that you can use it?

We recently posed this question to a cross section of the Brunei community, and we were surprised by their response:

“Whenever I needed to find a photo for a project, I would just copy and paste high-resolution images found on Google Images.”

“What’s so wrong about using photos that I can easily find from Google? It’s on the Internet so I can take it!”

In light of the public’s response above, we believe that there is a need to promote copyright education and awareness among the general population.

Copyright has been a hot topic in social media and online forums such as Reddit after a Hong Kong-based designer, Marc Allante, alleged that Brunei-based sportswear company Headhunter Sport had taken original artwork from international designers.

On June 1, the Brunei-based sportswear company issued a public apology via its social media platforms.

The following is a simple Q&A that we’ve compiled to help the general public get a better understanding about copyright:

Question: So what exactly is copyright?

According to the Brunei Darussalam Intellectual Property Office (BruIPO), copyright (or author’s right) is a form of Intellectual Property (IP) and is a legal term used to describe the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works.

Works covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture, and films, to computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, and technical drawings.

In most countries, including Brunei, copyright protection is obtained automatically without the need for registration or other formalities.

Whilst BruIPO is responsible for the registration of industrial property (patents, trademarks and industrial designs), copyright on the other hand, is under the purview of Brunei’s Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).

Question: And what about copyright protection?

According to the AGC, copyright and related rights protection is obtained automatically without any need for registration or other formalities.

Unlike other types of intellectual property such as trademark, patent or industrial designs where these types of intellectual property must be registered for protection, copyright and related rights are unique where, the moment you create a work, it is automatically protected.

Therefore, everything that you write (or draw or paint or whatever) regardless of whether it is an e-mail, a recording, an image, a thesis, a web page, or anything else, is automatically copyright protected.

Not only that, works created in Brunei will have protection in other countries who are a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) or the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, usually known as the Berne Convention. This would mean that your copyright or related rights is already protected in most countries without having to ‘register’ or go to those countries.

Brunei is a party to both the WTO and Berne Convention.

Question: Isn’t attributing the photo to its original source in the caption good enough?

According to a report by LifeLearn, the short answer is not always.

The safest bet is to assume that, unless something clearly states otherwise, anything published online is protected by copyright law. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Doing any of the following things may not always relieve your practice from liability:

  • Attributing the photo to the original photographer/illustrator in the caption.
  • Linking the photo back to the original source.
  • Making changes to the copyrighted image.
  • Only using the image on social media.
  • Placing a disclaimer on your website stating that you don’t own any of the photos and that all rights belong to the original creator.
  • Embedding the photo into your website using the original source URL instead of hosting it on your server.
  • Uploading a smaller-version/thumbnail of the image.
  • Using an image that doesn’t have a copyright symbol or watermark on it. The lack of copyright notice does not indicate that the image is free to use.
  • Taking the image down immediately following a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notice. Taking the image down is necessary but does not remove your liability.

Question: So where can you find free graphics or photos?

Our recommendation would be Pexels, a website that provides free stock photos to help millions of creators all over the world to easily create beautiful products and designs.

It’s hard to understand complex licences that is why all photos on Pexels are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) licence. This means the pictures are completely free to be used for any legal purpose.

  • The pictures are free for personal and even for commercial use.
  • You can modify, copy and distribute the photos.
  • All without asking for permission or setting a link to the source. So, attribution is not required.

The only restriction is that identifiable people may not appear in a bad light or in a way that they may find offensive, unless they give their consent. You should also make sure the depicted content (people, logos, private property, etc) is suitable for your application and doesn’t infringe any rights.

Also, because the content is free, there is no guarantee that what you decide to use is unique. Other people may be using the same images for their own use. As a business, this may not be such a good idea if you’re trying to stand out in the market by being original.

The CC0 licence was released by the non-profit organisation, Creative Commons. More information about Creative Commons images and the licence can be found here.

Question: Maybe I don’t want photos or graphics under a Creative Commons licence. What are my options?

(1) Paid service.

Many companies sell royalty-free (RF) licence for stock images from their collections such as Shutterstock, 123rf and Getty Images.

RF licence grants non-exclusive, unlimited and multiple use of an image, with few restrictions. It’s a one-time fee that allows perpetual use of the image in all the permitted ways. You can then use the licensed material for your own company, website or for advertisement. These licensed images are usually called royalty-free images and are different to rights managed images.

Due to the non-exclusivity that allows to sell as many licences to the same photo as buyers are willing to buy, images sold under RF licence are widely distributed across stock photo agencies, and priced at low (and flat) rates. For this reason they are also often in use by different people, companies and brands at the same time, in different ways.

(2) Freelancers.

Whether you need a new logo, a stunning web page, or a flashy advertisement, professionally designed visuals make the right first impression and can leave a lasting impact.

However, it may feel a little bit intimidating to hire a freelance graphic designer, creative or photographer if you don’t know much about the creative industry.

Freelancers work on a per contract basis. Instead of working for an employer, a freelancer works on multiple projects for different clients.

(3) Commissions.

Commissions are agreements that photographers make with clients to shoot a specific location for them. They pay you (the photographer) an agreed amount of money, and you spend the time to visit and shoot the location according to their wishes.

(4) Media agencies.

The Associated Press (AP)Agence France Presse (AFP)Reuters and German Press Agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) are some of the leading media agencies that provide photos for a fee. Reputable news agencies such as the ones mentioned should have all the imagery you need, including award-winning photos.

(5) Creative agencies. 

Creative agencies can specialise in a variety of fields such as branding, marketing, production, graphic design, copywriting and media. They can usually offer more than just a single photograph or artwork, such as a full branding exercise or advertising campaign. If you require a more holistic approach to your design needs, creative agencies are a good (and sometimes quite cost-effective) option, where they will have a streamlined approach towards bringing on a partner to tackle your problems.

(6) Do-It-Yourself.

When all else fails, you may consider taking the photos or designing the artwork yourself. Although, unless you are an expert, we’d probably advise you to save time and frustration from taking on this task alone.

Question: This is still a bit confusing. Is there anyone I can talk to about this?

(1) Talk to your local copyright office.

BruIPO is responsible for the registration of patents, trademarks, industrial designs and plant varieties protection (PVP) as well as the implementation of international registration systems under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), Madrid Protocol (trademark) and the Hague System for the International Registration of Industrial Designs, which are all administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

BruIPO was set up on June 1, 2013 in an effort to restructure the national IP administration.

Among the aims of the BruIPO are:

  • To provide a clear, accessible and widely understood patent system that protects ideas and innovation.
  • To raise awareness on the benefits and protection of trademarks and industrial designs and to use them to enhance business growth and competitiveness.
  • To promote and develop an ‘IP Culture’ where creativity and innovation can flourish.
  • To establish partnership with the relevant stakeholders in support of the national innovation ecosystem.​

For more information, visit the websites of BruIPO or Attorney General’s Chambers.

(2) Talk to professionals.

Hoco Agency, a digital communications consultancy in Brunei, has a wealth of experience building recognisable brands and campaigns in the country.

As part of their initiative towards championing the growth and rights of the creative industry, they are more than happy to provide insights on these matters, or any other related issues concerning the creative and media industry. Click here to get in touch with them for a FREE consult.

Do you think that artists should be compensated for their work?

Do you have any of these royal wedding memorabilia?

Chances are you were among the millions of people who watched the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last Saturday (May 19, 2018) on TV.

It goes without saying that the wedding at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle was a coveted affair that many people wished they had been invited to.

But fret not, you can own royal wedding memorabilia thanks to the wonders of the Internet.

You can find the most random things online. And eBay is no exception.

Here’s a look at some of the memorabilia that caught our attention:

1. KFC’s Royal Wedding Bucket

Limited edition KFC bucket (Photos courtesy of KFC, eBay, Politicalcereals, Asda)

Yes, you read that right!

KFC designed a commemorative bucket to celebrate Harry and Meghan’s big day on May 19.

According to Mashable, Prince Harry got down on one knee while the couple was cooking a roast chicken.

“When we discovered Prince Harry proposed over a roast chicken, we simply had to show our support for the big occasion,” a KFC spokesperson commented in a statement emailed to Mashable.

The Royal Wedding Bucket, as it’s been named, features “a bespoke crest” with a “modern KFC twist”.

“Featuring resplendent gold flourishes, the bucket is embellished with a classic regal crest, proudly adorned with both British and American flags,” according to KFC. 

It is understood that only a limited number of buckets were made available from KFC’s Windsor branch on Dedworth road.

The last time I checked on eBay, I saw bids for one of these buckets going as high as US$1,000.

2. ‘Marry Me Harry’ t-shirts

“How can those women be wearing such a shirt?”

That was one of my friends exclaimed when she saw on TV a group of women wearing ‘Marry Me Harry’ t-shirts waving at the royal couple.

Personally, I thought it was harmless fun.

According to a report by OK!, Asda’s own clothing range, George, launched a range of unique slogan t-shirts to mark the regal data.

Besides the ‘Marry Me Harry’ slogan, you could also get your hands on t-shirts with a slogan saying ‘When Harry Met Meghan’. They were being sold for around US$5 at Asda.

However, the last time I checked on eBay, these shirts were fetching prices of around US$40.

3. Royal cereal

Fancy a box of toasted multigrain cereal rings – that’s also suitable for vegetarians? Behold the Harry and Meghan’s Wedding Rings Commemorative Breakfast Cereal. For more information, visit PoliticalCereals.

Do you have any memorabilia of royal weddings you’d like to share? Get in touch with us and we may feature your items in our next article. We’d love to hear from you.

For further reading, we recommend the following report by CNBC – ‘People are selling their royal wedding bags on eBay’.

5 simple life hacks for your home

Why make life complicated? If there’s an easier way to do things, why not take the easier route?

We here at ‘Neue’ are fascinated with life hacks.

There’s a hack for every aspect of life.

You just need to know what you’re looking for.

Today, we are going to take a look at some life hacks for your home.

(1) For the kitchen.

(Source: Shutterstock)

Lemon isn’t just used for iced lemon tea. It can also be used for cleaning.

Did you know that by mixing lemon juice and water and then heating it in a microwave is a great way to deodorise and clean your unit?

You can also use lemon juice as a general cleaner for your home. All you have to do is mix it with water to remove grease stains.

(2) For the shower.


Did you know that you don’t have to buy specialised cleaners to clean your shower head?

All you have to do is fill a bag with white vinegar and tie it securely around your shower head.

Leave it over night and remove it the following day. Let water run through it, then use as normal.

(3) For the washroom.

(Source: creeklinehouse)

Did you know that you can keep your bathroom smelling fresh and clean just by adding essential oil onto the toilet paper roll?

You don’t need to pour the whole bottle. Just three to five drops should do it.

Replace the toilet onto the holder and you’re all set.

Each time the toilet paper is used, the spinning of the roll will help re-release that fresh scent into the air.

(4) For the bedroom.

(Source: centsandorder)

Did you know that there’s a wall behind your clothes rod stand that you can use?

If you didn’t, it’s ok. It’s usually covered up with clothes.

By installing some hooks, you will be able to hang your purses, coats or anything hangable back there.

(5) For the living room.

(Source: Techwalla)

We always dread unplugging cables connected to the TV, surround sound speakers, PlayStation console, WiFi router, etc.

One life hack that made our life much easier was when we utilised coloured tapes for the head and tail end of the wires.

So the next time you need to unplug something, all you have to do is yank the cords with the matching colours.

Do you have any life hacks you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you. Drop us a comment below.

Tribute to Hawking: To infinity & beyond

It came to a shock to all of us here at Hoco Agency when news of Professor Stephen Hawking’s passing flashed across the infinite news feeds.

The British theoretical physicist considered by many during his lifetime to be the world’s greatest scientist passed away on March 14, 2018.

We here at Hoco Agency paid tribute to a great man who refused to be limited by a 1963 diagnosis of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) by uploading an original piece by one of our in-house creative talents, Jimmy Lee, onto Instagram.

Tribute image that Hoco’s Jimmy Lee created

When asked what was the thought process behind this artwork, Jimmy said, “I needed time to digest the news. As I was grieving, I conceptionalised the idea of a tribute artwork to say my goodbye to this great man.

“It took me an hour to complete this artwork.

“Three things that came to mind as I worked on the artwork – Hawking’s string theory, his fascination with the black hole and his Intel-powered wheelchair.

“The idea is that at the end of Hawking’s life on Earth, he breaks away from his physical chains. I believe that the black hole is considered heaven to him. He is now one with the universe … at peace.”

Another important aspect of the Instagram post was the caption. One should never underestimate the power of words.

Our talented in-house creative writer, Howard Lim, thought of the perfect caption to accompany this heartfelt tribute for Hawking, which went “To the brightest star of modern cosmology. May your legacy forever live on in the countless minds and hearts you’ve inspired, and may you forever soar to the farthest reaches of the cosmos, ever bold and ever curious. Rest in peace, Professor Hawking.”

According to Howard, it was perhaps one of the most difficult captions he had ever worked on.

He said, “It was very emotional. He was such a great historical figure that couldn’t at all be contained by words.

“I will always remember this one quote by Hawking – ‘to always be curious’. This was his own philosophy in life.

“I don’t want to think that he had indeed passed on. But rather, he has finally moved on.

“I’d like to believe that he is now a higher form of life and that he is still searching, or rather exploring, our universe.

“He showed us that if anything, nothing is truly impossible. All you need is to continually be persistent.”

Do you have an artwork that you’d like us to feature in our ‘Create’ section of the Neue website? We’d love to hear from you. You can do so by e-mailing

Be sure to follow @hocoagency on Instagram for more great content.