KUCHING, July 9: Not being able to work due to Malaysia’s Movement Control Order (MCO) in March did not mean Wesley Juntan was content to just sit on his hands.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and MCO, the 33-year-old air steward was effectively grounded as air travel in the country ground to a halt.
Based in Kuala Lumpur, he started to think about what he could do to occupy himself and at the same time, perhaps create something that could have a big impact on promoting Sarawak’s culture.
Wesley, better known online as Wesley Hilton, decided to make Sarawakian ethnic clothing for Barbie and Ken dolls.
Not only did his handiwork become a hit on social media, Wesley’s dolls attracted the attention of Minister of Tourism, Art and Culture (MOTAC) Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.
“I was so excited to meet such a vibrant young man, who fought hard and never give up when he had to face the challenge of being jobless during the MCO in March.
“I advised Wesley to turn this hobby into a company to produce more of these traditional Malaysian-style mini dolls and market them overseas,” Nancy revealed in a statement.
Nancy also suggested that with such unique products being produced, her ministry can connect more talented people with relevant agencies under the ministry such as Malaysian Handicraft Corporation to help develop these people’s talents and products.
“Wesley designing Sarawak ethnic clothing for Barbie and Ken dolls to wear is an example of an artwork that can be a potential tourism product based on art and culture.
“I want to encourage people to be creative and innovative, use your artistic skill and create more tourism products with unique features,” Nancy added.
Meanwhile, Wesley revealed the idea to dress Barbie and Ken dolls in the unique Sarawakian traditional attire came about when Malaysia was under MCO.
“It was before Gawai festival and we were not allowed to go home to celebrate Gawai.
“I started producing these ‘Kumang’ dolls. My friend and I made a dress for a doll. After the doll became so famous on social media, someone asked me to produce other ethnic (attired) dolls besides Iban,” Wesley disclosed, adding that he made the mini dresses all by himself.
During his recent visit to meet Nancy, Wesley revealed he never expected to be contacted by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister over his work.
“I would like to thank Nancy and her team from MOTAC for their initiatives and efforts to identify the young generation’s potential in contributing to the tourism, arts and culture industries,” he added. — DayakDaily