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Afiq Iskandar, founder of Tarik Jeans



Afiq Iskandar is the founder of Tarik Jeans. Born in Kedah and growing up in Penang, Malaysia, music has always been an essential component of Afiq’s life. His passion for music led him to attempt to pursue a career in music, at the same time, it also naturally led Afiq to explore and develop many of his creative talents in other fields. Whilst in the 2nd year of college, Afiq began to toy with the possibility of creating his own designer brand when he created a t-shirt brand. The seed for Tarik Jeans was properly sown after a personal trip to a tailor in Bandung, in which Afiq was attempting to make a pair of jeans for himself. The tailor informed Afiq that he would get a discount if he ordered more pairs which Afiq ended up doing after borrowing money from his father. Since then, his brand has really grown exponentially becoming the eminent Malaysian denim brand that it is today.

Today, Afiq talks to the Asian Entrepreneur about Tarik Jeans; sharing with us some of his experiences as a self-starter.

What is Tarik Jeans all about and why does it matter?

Tarik jeans is a Malaysian denim brand that celebrates the rich cultural diversity we have here in the country. We are a brand with a philosophy to hopefully groom the youths today for a better tomorrow. The brand is constantly looking out for talented local designers, artist and musicians to collaborate with. We hope to share the amazing work of these local talents through fashion for every Malaysian to embrace. Moreover, denims has always been the face of freedom. In my opinion, we at Tarik are well aligned with that. This denim is made to be worn by everyone regardless of race, creed, politicalaffiliation, sexual proclivity, music preference, and anything else designed to divide us. More than just a denim label, Tarik is an advocate of Malaysian pop culture and art. We are the vanguard of the progressive youth.

Why did you create Tarik Jeans?

Before Tarik, it was very hard for us to be able to obtain a decent piece of clothing from a local brand. The only selling point that local brands had at that was the fact that they were local and nothing beyond that. There were a lot of brands but none really paid attention to the quality in terms of the design to the choice of garment which was very frustrating to me because I really want to wear something local. At that stage, it was a very obvious void that needed to be filled.


How was it like starting up Tarik Jeans?

I’ll be lying if I told you that it was all smooth sailing since day 1. We faced challenges from
almost every single aspect of a business. It raises a lot of questions, things like, whether people would buy a pair of jeans from us. How Tarik will be positioning ourselves in the market? What kind of message do we want to convey? Ultimately, I guess I would say, Malaysians are generally still very much looking at prominent international brands despite the steep price, and we hope to change that perception.

How did you tackle some of these issues?

It has been tough because I was handling most of the initial setup on my own with very little knowledge of the fashion and retail industry. I reached out to my close friends and got some help from them at what they do best. Together, with all our professional skill sets combined, we are now better established and will continue to define the denim culture in Malaysia. Aside from myself, I had particular help from Nicholas Yoon, who is our General Manager, Alif Ridzuan, who is our Creative Director and Teo Choong Ching, who is our Chief Designer.

Tell us about the local fashion industry in Malaysia.

I think it’s very healthy. We see a lot of brands nowadays and I think it’s a healthy sign. It’s a challenge for us as the market is getting pretty saturated but I think we can manage. The growth has been very positive and the audience are growing. It has the potential to grow bigger, so for those whom aspire to venture into this industry can seriously consider this as a career choice and parents should be cool with it.

Do you think local brands face more challenges compared to those in the West?

Honestly, I don’t think so. In my opinion, the competition is fierce everywhere in the world. When we talk about big brands such as Levi’s, or GStar Raw, these brands has been in the industry for a very long time. The only edge they have is that they are well established, and probably have a much bigger budget to create awareness compared to thriving independent labels. Other than that, I can’t think of why they would have an edge.


So have you faced competition locally?

Yes, we do have some upcoming denim labels in Malaysia. We are looking at it as an opportunity to be better, in terms of customer experience and quality of our products. This also serves as an indicator that people are starting to notice Malaysian denims, and this is good news for us.

How do you guys stay relevant admist all the competition?

First of all, the brand is in for a long run. We strongly believe that Tarik carries a more significant meaning to the public than jeans and tshirts. We stay true to Tarik’s philosophy. It takes a lot of research to stay up to date with the fashion world, and a bit of luck to create the next big thing. Our varsity jacket collection is a good example.

What are some common problems entrepreneurs will face starting their own fashion brand in your opinion?

Finance will always be the first few major ones. Theres also the part where it is essential to convince my audience on why they deserve something nice for themselves once in awhile. In my case, one of the major one is to educate my audience about the products because the money that they are paying for is going to the craftsmanship and construction of the particular clothing which is not something which is visually loud in most cases. It is something that the audience has to be interested in, in order to really be convinced.

What are some important insights you have learnt working on Tarik Jeans?

Tarik Jeans has always been a brand that creates clothing that Malaysians in general can claim to be theirs. In pursuit of achieving that, we have learnt to love our target audience and that is one of the most important things that I learnt pretty late. You have to at the very least love something about what you wish to do to make a living.

Could you name two things that separate successful entepreneurs from others?

Discipline and selfmotivation. I won’t speak much of this, since I’m far from knowing what it is all about.


What are you currently working on at Tarik Jeans?

We have just started operations on our flagship store, Nusantara Denims, an initiative to establish a platform to further boost the denim culture around the Southeast Asian archipelago. The store offers premium denim brands, leather shoes, and leather accessories for denim heads from Indonesia, and Thailand.

What drives you as a person?

I wouldn’t say its just me. I guess I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by the right people and them being around has really put me in place to where I am today. So I guess, the appreciation and motivation to not let other people down drives me as a person.


Connect with Afiq and Tarik Jeans today


“When Adam Draper does Crypto Standup, Singapore listens”



I live and work in Singapore and Santa Monica. Yes, I am blessed. However, my life has been by design, I think of what I want and so I make my life choices and make them happen in my life. Hence the bi-continent living and that comes with bi-continent and now global community living, being and ecosystems building. So I am now never surprised when one part of my world meets another.

I went to Wavemaker Partners venture capital event this evening, keen to meet Adam Draper, who is one of the many great presenters at Crypto Invest Summit, April 30- May 2 in Los Angeles.

Since I actively support leaders who are building scalable, sustainable businesses and movements for the betterment of many; of course I am learning about Blockchain and Cryptocurrency. I had been keen to report on the Crypto Invest Summit as I would be back in May to LA for my PhD programme. I was in communications with the organizers. However, I am being awarded an award at the Women Economic Forum in Delhi that same week and could not be physically present.

Still I wanted to report on the event, somehow.

I wanted to listen to the speakers and support some of the speakers who are already friends and experts I rely on for greater insights on cryptocurrency. I like learning and sharing with the greater audience, I have in Asia what I am learning from the US and vice versa. So I feel I had my chance tonight to do a bit of that.

I could not help but smile as Adam Draper shed light into his world of investing in more than 85 crypto related products because he was such a breath of fresh air to the last few Blockchain and Financial conferences I have been reporting on; especially here in Asia.

He just says it like it is.

He kept stopping the audience when they said Blockchain and he said, “You know you really mean cryptocurrency.”  He hit the nail on the head because I have seen so clearly how this phrase had been said in Singapore time and again – “I am not into cryptocurrency but I believe in Blockchain.”

When he said how there was an incongruity as he sat across bankers who personally invested in cryptocurrency and when faced with an inbound of requests from their clients on the same investment; are tied by regulations and are unable to respond.

Here’s some of his best lines. If you don’t laugh or “ah-ha” the way I did, you probably just had to be there. The truth is funny because it calls out for something we all see but sometimes just do not want to admit.

There is a growing understanding of the underlying thematics that the cryptocurrency world has been experiencing as the interface between centralize; de-centralize and personal autonomy becomes more and more apparent and lines get drawn.

Adam Says:

1) The newest phenomenon is that some of the ICO founders are now just so rich from their ICOs that they really don’t need to work on the project they asked for money for.

2) For the crypto-world, money doesn’t matter anymore!
They need talent

It’s so founder friendly now.

3) What Bitcoin made us ask is “What is money?”

The next question is “What is government and governance?”

He highlighted if an entrepreneur is looking for a problem to solve., then the entrepreneur is always looking for horrible industries with poor services and high costs. So yes – Governments are those horrible industries and they need to be disrupted.

4)  Any company who comes to an investor and leads with how much ICO has raised; is a red flag. Leave immediately and go read a Harry Potter book instead.
If they are leading with value and not the problem they are solving. Beware. (read more here

5) If you are going to invest in where the brains are. It’s in crypto.

6) Philosophically, Coinbase is against ethos of what Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency movement is trying to do. However to do such a move from fiat to digital currency, there would need a way to do that. So Coinbase acts like a browser does for internet. One day there will be no need to cash in or out as everyone is already there on digital. Cryptocurrency is the exchange of value. His advice and we know his bias as he is invested in  Coinhako; is to hold onto an exchange for 3-5 years since onboarding of all users to the new digital currency will take some time.

Adam met with many banks and government bodies on his trip to Singapore – I hope they got his truths.

I ended the night by thanking Adam for making me laugh. He reminded me of how much I miss LA.

Want more of this?

If you are in LA on April 30 – May 2.



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Callum Connects

Adrian Reid, Founder of Enlightened Stock Trading



Adrian Reid escaped the rat race and became a knowledgeable trader. He now shares his trading knowledge and empowers others to take control of their stocks.

What’s your story?
After working 12-16 hour days in the corporate world for many years I had a moment of realisation on the 1 hour bus ride to work. It was here at this moment in time, I realised that I felt trapped, desperate and isolated. Trapped in a job I hated, and a life I had not designed. I had long been interested in investing, but I made the decision at that point to become the best trader I could possibly be and escape the rat race.
My dream was to be free; free of the 9 to 5, the commute, the stress and the exhaustion. I threw myself into my stock trading research and study and emerged 3 months later with the trading rules that would ultimately buy me my freedom. I am now retired from the corporate world, I trade full time and share my knowledge with other aspiring traders through my online education program which puts them in control and empowers them to take control and accountability for their trading results.

What excites you most about your industry?
So many people are trapped in jobs they don’t like or are feeling immense financial pressure in their life. Trading education is typically done extremely badly today because of the conflicts of interest in the industry. Fund managers want to hold onto your money forever; brokers want you to trade more frequently; forex brokers want you to use more leverage. Why? Because that is how they make their money.
By teaching traders how to develop and test their own stock trading systems I am able to empower them to find trading rules which fit their own personality, objectives and lifestyle. This is the only way for new traders to be successful. This process transforms people’s financial future, their relationship with money and wealth and gives them hope. I love that!

What’s your connection to Asia?
I recently spent 3 years living in Singapore which I absolutely loved. This put me in a good position to observe the other Asian markets. As a stock trader I am interested in many markets and economies around the world, however the Asian markets have some of the best potential for trading profits. I have traded stocks in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo and I have developed trading systems that work in many other Asian markets as well.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
My favourite city is Singapore. After living in Singapore for 3 years my family fell in love with the city. Life is great in Singapore for the whole family and the pro-business and investing policies of the government make it a wonderful place to build your financial future as well.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
On a personal front: Find something you love, throw all your energy and passion into it.
On the wealth front: Spend less than you earn and invest the difference. Take control of your finances and always accept 100% responsibility for your investment decisions.

Who inspires you?
My wife Stephanie inspires me. Her commitment to everything she does, her compassion, her insights into people and her ability to uplift those around her, make me want to be a better person.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
No matter what we think we know, there will always be a different perspective that can change our opinion. In my own trading, I continually find that the truths I cling to are not absolute and they can be misleading if held onto dogmatically. Striking a balance between taking a stance and knowing when to change that stance based on new information is critical in all areas of life.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have taken more action earlier on. My fear of mistakes (which still limits me on occasions, like most people) has always proven to be baseless. Playing small to avoid the embarrassment or pain of mistakes is very limiting and I would have taken more action earlier, if I had my time again.

How do you unwind?
To unwind I like to read, meditate, run and ride my mountain bike in the forest.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I just love the small island resort at Batu Batu. It is beautiful, isolated, quiet and surrounded by clean water, full of sealife. After a week at the resort I felt like a different person.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto. This book teaches the art of clear and structured communication. My time working as a business strategy consultant gave me a great appreciation for the importance of communication in business. Clear and effective communication can solve a myriad of challenges in your business and professional life, and as a strong communicator your employment prospects, business relationships, team performance and family life are all dramatically improved.

Shameless plug for your business:
Enlightened Stock Trading ( is the only stock market trading education business that empowers you, as an individual trader. It shows you how to design and test your own unique stock trading system that fits YOUR Personality, Objectives and Lifestyle. We have no conflicts of interest and we are focused on teaching you how to trade stocks profitably in a way that fits your life.
After working through the Enlightened Stock Trader Certification Program you will find yourself confident and empowered with your own battle tested trading system and trading plan to guide you through the markets.

How can people connect with you?
Email me directly at [email protected] or through my Facebook Page (

Twitter handle?

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
Download free copies of his books here:

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