Maskula — inspired by a passion for the sea

Local clothing brand Maskula, celebrates the beautiful diversity of colours, patterns, and designs of tropical fish.



The Maldives is a tropical paradise, with its waters filled with wondrous beauty. Thousands travel from all over the world to experience the warm tropical atmosphere and white sandy beaches. One entrepreneur and artiste took the beauty of our waters and perfectly blended them into designs to launch a local clothing brand – Maskula owned by Khathoon Rasheed, a Maldivian mom of three living in Sri Lanka. 

While managing the business, Khathoon also works full time at Asiri Surgical Hospital, in Sri Lanka, as their Head of Maldivian Market - International Business Development. Khathoon is also a passionate diver, who was inspired by the beauty of the underwater environment. She says that maintaining a balance between normal daily work and home chores has been challenging, yet she pursues her passion with hard work, and a little help from colleagues and friends. 

MFR sat with Khathoon, the CEO of Maskula to learn more about their unique products. 

Maldives Financial Review: Tell us about Maskula, how did you come up with the idea?

Khathoon: “Maskula” envisioned that people can celebrate the amazing, tropical underwater life on their choice of garment. This was inspired by a passion for the sea, nurtured through snorkeling and diving. The concept of “Maskula” is based on underwater beauty - the patterns and colours. It represents a story of your underwater experience.

Our aim is to introduce a truly Maldivian product, available for both locals and foreigners, and to establish a sustainable distribution mechanism for our products to retailers and souvenir shops around the country. Eventually, we wish to make Maskula a global brand.  But more importantly, our focus is on enabling our customers to embrace the beauty of the coral reefs and our underwater life, and on growing love and care for our fragile ecosystem. 

I had the honor of designing our first lady, Madam Fazna’s, “Dhigu hedhun” (national dress). The design was inspired by the patterns found on the butterfly fish. This opportunity was a great accomplishment, being recognized and delivering the design through our brand. 

MFR: Tell us more about your products. How do you manage the production and selling? 

Khathoon: We started in 2015 with tote bags and pouches, which were hand drawn, sequined and stitched with pockets inside. It was a long and time-consuming process just to make one piece. All our products are 100 percent handcrafted in batik. Once we receive the products from the factory we do the labeling, tagging and packaging at home, which are then airfreighted to customers.

The concept of fish inspired clothing is still very new. At the moment we have 14 designs based on tropical fishes each representing a story for the customer to take home. 

We currently have a collection of beach wraps, bandanas, kaftans/ponchos, cushion covers and tote bags.

Our plans to introduce new designs and a new range of products were interrupted with the pandemic situation and we have still not been able to launch these. But, we hope to introduce new beach wear and essentials to our customers by the end of the year.


MFR: What are some of the hurdles faced throughout your journey?

Khathoon: At the time when I wanted to do Maskula in handmade batik, I had no funds at all. I started by putting a little aside from my salary each month and managed to raise enough funding to make some sample scarfs. As it is 100 percent handmade, the cost of production is extremely high.

The first samples were well-received and a success. So I started looking for customers, and started initial production after receiving my first order. It was a long but enjoyable and exciting journey. What I realized was that the most important thing is to start, no matter how small, and with what you have, and the rest will follow. Things will fall into place as the business starts growing. I have enjoyed every single moment of my journey with Maskula. 

As mentioned before, we had plans to launch new designs and a new range of products at the beginning of this year. However, given the current restrictions as well as delays in shipping, we have had to improvise. The plan right now is to deliver new beach wear and essentials designs for our customers by the end of the year - not just in the Maldives and Sri Lanka, but to other destinations as well. 


MFR: What has been the feedback like from customers?

Khathoon: It has been incredibly positive! We maintain close relationships with our customers. Honestly, I love how my customers make the brand so much more  interesting. We aim is to showcase our customers' feedback, their moments and experiences with Maskula products through our social media platforms. 

MFR: How would you describe the local industry and the market?

Khathoon: When I first started producing the tote bags, it was extremely hard for me to reach the market. I would say back then and till today, I see the same views when it comes to handmade products - the reluctance among some boutique owners to sell local brands. There are so many creative artists in the Maldives who have unique talents, but the potential of their products is not yet comprehended by the market monopolies. The demand for handmade products is remarkably high in other parts of the world. 

More people and businesses should support local brands, the talented artists, and their products. As for policy makers, they should maintain the rule of law in general, to uphold the fair-trade practices and provide an equal platform for all. I believe this will give an unimaginable boost to authentic Maldivian products.

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