Why We Launched Dia in a Pandemic

Why We Launched Dia in a Pandemic

By Aisha Hassan on November 11th, 2020

When is the right time to start a new business idea? For us, it’s when the causes we believed in became clear, and that’s what happened — to probably most people — in 2020. The global pandemic has hammered home issues from systemic inequalities to the climate crisis. On a smaller scale, it’s also helped us re-evaluate the work we want to do and share, and Dia is part of that. 

The rise of fast fashion and mass production, which often controls and homogenizes fashion trends, is pushing artisans and small businesses further to the fringe. The Covid-19 pandemic has made it even harder for indie stores to survive. For artisans working in rural areas or are employed by such boutique brands, this puts their livelihoods at risk. For artisans who rely on the willingness of the next generation to preserve their skills, this means craft legacies are at risk. Dia champions boutique brands and artisanship from Southeast Asia because we refuse to let either of these things go. 

We launched Dia in a pandemic for you, the consumer, as well. The reality of a closed-border world is that last-minute holidays and your long-awaited tropical vacation just aren’t guaranteed. But you can still experience the world’s beautiful destinations, including those in Southeast Asia, and Dia is a different way of doing so. For instance, Dia’s Collection features designer brands who are hidden gems in the region — the kind of boutique brands you’d only discover while exploring city streets, by chance. And the Journeys page is all about finding surprising ways to travel and discover the world. 

We encourage you to live vicariously through your style: A batik scarf to recall summer nights, Thai silk clothing fit for a beach bar, a songket clutch for some tropical flair. Beautiful products can provide joy in troubling times and are a symbol of hope for better times to come. That’s why the products in Dia’s Collection are also perfect as handmade gifts — they all tell a story of someone creating things with care despite the times we live in. 

Ultimately, Dia is also somewhere you can shop, read, and explore, with care. The future of the lifestyle industry, we hope, is a mindful one. If launching Dia now means we’re helping to accelerate the world’s move towards conscious consumption, we’re good with that. We hope you are too.



Aisha Hassan is a writer, journalist, and co-founder of Dia. Previously, Aisha worked for Quartz in New York and Harper’s Bazaar in Malaysia. Her fiction has been published in international literary magazines. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Language & Literature from the University of Oxford, and a master’s degree from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.