News + Views: Liven’ la Vida Local

This article was first published in Haven, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, from June 5, 2017 to June 11, 2017.

Add style to your space with decorative items from Ilaika Select Store. Not only does it look great, but it also makes you feel like you’re supporting local artisans.

Ilaika is a fashion boutique, bookstore, coffee shop, and furniture store rolled into one. Supporting at least 20 in-house brands, the select store has catapulted to the forefront of the local retail scene, offering vintage, eco-friendly, and one-of-a-kind alternatives to fast fashion and mass-market products. Simply put, Ilaika markets a boutique framework centered around the spirit of community.

This bright and airy independent store is owned by sisters Diane and Dora Ong, who also operate the Awesome Canteen Cafe next door. It thrives on the idea that shopping should be interactive. A unique experience worth leaving home. Like a free design lesson, the carefully selected interior is filled with lush plants and hanging lights, illuminating the products scattered throughout the minimalist space. At the back of the store, a coffee machine hums quietly, encouraging people to stop and enjoy a drink while shopping.

Ilaika’s appeal lies in its practical and serendipitous DNA. This shop offers not only what you need, but also things that may complement what you already own. The owners not only have strict tastes in clothing and homewares, but also create sustainable fashion and ethical products such as homemade soaps from SlowSoaps, bespoke furniture from, and recyclable leather products from Wanpi. I’m also a big supporter of manufactured products. In Ilaika.

Ilaika has tapped into the city’s rich artisan community to create a creative hub in one permanent space. It really is, forgive the overused adjective, but a hidden gem.

17 Jalan 20/13, Petaling Jaya. For more information, please visit

Ilaika owner Diane Ong persuaded One Half, the coffee bar that used to occupy part of the now-closed BRATS cafe, to become part of the select shop earlier this year. Hidden behind Ilaika, One Half will be led by Keith Koai, who won the top spot at last year’s Malaysian Barista Championship. How good is One Half? Factor in the friendly conversation with the barista, the counterful of cakes, and the amazing coffee with artful latte art, and you’ll quickly become a neighborhood favorite.

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