My Jakarta: Drucella Benala Dyahati, Miss Scuba Finalist


Ecology graduate and Miss Scuba Indonesia finalist Drucella Benala Dyahati is an advocate for marine conservation. (Photo by Iwan Putuhena)

Indonesia has some of the best diving spots in the world — just ask Drucella Benala Dyahati, a Miss Scuba Indonesia finalist who received the Miss Photogenic award at the competition. Her background as a WWF activist and her major in ecology at the Bogor Institute of Agriculture paved the way for her to join Miss Scuba in promoting tourism and marine conservation.

Continue reading “My Jakarta: Drucella Benala Dyahati, Miss Scuba Finalist”

Definition of Cool: 707

Merchandise at 707 offers fashion beyond mainstream trends and styles, delivering urban designer brands not yet available in the rest of Jakarta.

“Sometimes we are six months ahead, compared to the other stores in the city,” says 707 General Manager Nana.

Nana, a 20-something young woman with a keen grasp of urban fashion, has been part of the 707 team since day one, when the store opened for business at Kemang Icon building. “We always made the effort and develop the concept from the start to carry cutting-edge brands from suppliers all around the world,” she says.

707 carries T-shirts, jeans, shoes, sunglasses, watches and accessories by such trend-setting brands as APC, Nudie, Surface2Air, Kidrobot, Cheap Monday, YyMC, Richard James, Superfine, Edun, Alife, aNYything and Melissa, and many more.

If you have never heard of 707 before, you are not alone. The owners deliberately refuse to advertise and have always kept a low profile since the boutique opened its doors in 2005. So how do they stay in business? Mostly by word of mouth, says Nana. Also by social media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and weekly newsletters. Over time, 707 has grown and developed a loyal, trend-aware clientele.

Not long after the store opened, 707 expanded to Cilandak Town Square for a micro version of the store called 707 Annexes. In 2008, the two outlets were combined into a bigger space at the current Aksara complex on Kemang Raya. The store’s urban chic design features vintage furniture combined with modern minimalist, large windows, white brick walls and a classic barber chair.

Adam, who has been working at 707 for three years, says most customers at the store come in looking for unique and exclusive brands. “They dig the rare jeans, and it’s all about curve for them,” he says. Dressed in vintage Nike shoes, designer jeans, T-shirt and baseball hat, Adam says he is comfortable working at 707 because it fits his lifestyle. “I like everything original; my style is simple, I want to be able to feel not just see the product,” he says.

Staying One Step Ahead

707 products typically create a buzz; their first launch for Nike drew lines of 400 people, with many sleeping outside the store overnight, because they knew it was an exclusive line not available at Nike stores in the malls or anywhere in Jakarta. Many other brands such as Nudie, Cheap Monday, Ksubi and Melissa only allow their limited-edition products to be sold in 707. “Most of the lines we carry are exclusive,” says Nana.

Monitoring trends is a key aspect in a business that aims to deliver fresh products. “We regularly keep an eye on magazines, the internet, television and follow the current buzz,” says Nana. “We also look into the background and the people behind the brand. That has always been one way for us to consider and choose a product.”

One product always in demand at 707 is denim. At 707 you can easily find rare and high-quality salvage jeans from Japan with brands such as Imperial, Naked & Famous and many others. Rare jeans at 707 can be priced as high as Rp 7 million.

“Preppy style is the new look for the season,” says Nana. Around Kemang and other hip areas in Jakarta, you can easily spot teenagers and young adults wearing retro glasses, buttoned shirts, chino pants and loafer shoes. Being preppy is cooler than ever, in comparison to previous years when sneakers and T-shirts dominated the urban market. The sneaker rack that used to be the Nike shoe display has been replaced with loafers and boots.

How do they deal with competition from knockoff merchandise? “We don’t worry about that because our customers appreciate quality and love the brand they are seeking. I don’t think they would consider imitations; besides it feels much better paying and wearing originals,” says Nana.

Serving only the best and meeting the demand for exclusive products have proven successful strategies for 707. For customers of this high-end boutique, the rare and limited-edition items on offer are worth every penny.

Iwan Putuhena Reports

Original article was published in Kemang Buzz

Definition of Cool: 707

Pictures by Dissy for Kemang Buzz


Jl. Kemang Raya No. 8B, (next to Aksara, under Casa)
Tel: 021 718 0051

My Jakarta: Laura Muljadi, Model

It’s not easy being different in Jakarta. In the Netherlands, dark skin and exotic eyes can land you a modeling gig. But in Jakarta those same features, coupled with the fact that you’re 181 centimeters tall, warrant stares and whispers. But Laura Muljadi, 25, became a fixture at Fashion Week. Things weren’t easy for her — her mom made her shower with milk in hopes of lightening her skin. In college she weighed 82 kilograms. But instead of blaming people who put her down, she made things happen on her own. Now, when she’s not doing the catwalk, she tells kids at schools to be themselves. and stop caring about what other people think.

What does it feel like to be stared at all the time?

When I was younger my hair was really short and everybody thought I was a guy or a transvestite.

Even when I was in the Miss Indonesia pageant a blogger said I should join Miss Transvestite Indonesia.

When people stare I just smile back at them.

I’m ethnic Chinese, but you can’t tell. I stopped walking with my dad when I was 14 because I was so tall at that age people didn’t think I was his daughter.

You didn’t always think you would be a model, did you?

When I was growing up my dad only saw things as black or white. He always said: ‘There are only two types of girls in the world.

The pretty ones and the smart ones. You can’t be in the middle. If you’re in the middle you won’t survive.’

My dad always gave me books. I’ve always had books.

You have dark skin, which is normally not considered beautiful in Indonesia.

I grew up in the ethnic Chinese community. Even my cousins always thought I was different.

Once, when I was in elementary school, my teacher was talking about blood types and he said ‘Laura, it’s gonna be tough for her if she gets sick because she’s adopted and her parents might have different blood types.’

How was it even possible for him to say that in front of his students?

I was 9 years old. Of course I cried.

When I was younger, my parents would order pure milk and I would have to shower in it. They thought it would make my skin lighter.

But I always believed that things were going to happen for me.

You received a scholarship to go to school in the Netherlands. What did you study there?

I took up international communications management.

After school, I came back to Jakarta and got an office job related to my major, but modeling took over, and now things have gotten a bit carried away [laughs].

Any advice for young models ?

You need to be smart. Know what’s best for you.

You can buy all the whitening products here, but if you don’t have the confidence you’ll never be pretty.

You don’t need to be sharped- nose or anything. I go to schools and talk to kids and they say ‘You’re so lucky.’

But I tell them in this world only 5 percent of success is luck, 95 is hard work and motivation.

What do you tell the kids when you visit the schools?

I tell them ‘If you don’t want people to hate you, if you don’t like conflict, then don’t take risks.’ When I joined Miss Indonesia people were like ‘What were you thinking? They never pick people who look like you.’

I told them I’m not here to win, I’m here to pursue my dreams and to inspire people like me.

I don’t mean those who are dark-skinned, I mean different from the stereotype of what’s pretty.

When you were in college in the Netherlands you hosted a radio show that was broadcast in Indonesia.

It’s like Radio Indonesia. It’s a government-funded radio station with programs in nine languages. I did a show called ‘Voice of Women.’

The program started out as something completely different, aimed at college-age kids. Why the change?

I did my thesis on migrant workers in Saudi Arabia and Taiwan.

People here know all about the bad things that happen to migrant workers in Singapore and Malaysia, but they don’t focus on or broadcast the good things.

So you were talking about good things?

I found a balance. We broadcast the good and bad stories so the people from cities and villages knew what to expect.

Sure, a lot of bad things happen, but there are success stories that no one ever hears about, especially from Saudi Arabia.

I wanted to tell the listeners what they could expect to happen — both the good and bad.

Some people benefit from going abroad. But the media never broadcast those stories.

But does anyone really want to work as a maid abroad?

That’s the thing — some people go abroad and then come back and are celebrities in their villages.

Some people are even given an inheritance from their employers.

Especially in Taiwan, Indonesians are seen as caretakers and nurses, not maids.

Some get rich and just stay in Taiwan. But you never hear that.

People only want to hear how miserable other people are.

How did you get your big break?

When I was going to school in the Netherlands, I worked as a waitress at a cafe.

I weighed 82 kilograms at the time. A regular at the restaurant owned a modeling agency.

She said ‘If you lose all this weight in six months I can assure you’ll get a job.’

I went from 82 kilos to 49 kilos in six months.

Everything went in a blender. I didn’t chew anything for three months.

So what were you having for dinner, oatmeal?

I drank juice and blended vegetables. It was disgusting. I could never do it again. Then I tried to blend rice and meat, and the second month I even blended mie goreng.


Laura was talking to Iwan Putuhena & Zack Petersen

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Laura Muljadi, Model


Pictures Courtesy of  Laura Muljadi

Fashion Factory: FAME Management

Dendy Oktariady can often be found surrounded by a swarm of beautiful people, but it’s not all play – he is behind a Kemang model agency that is helping to put Jakarta on the global fashion map.

It’s not unusual to spot foreign models in a Kemang café or fitness center. Photo shoots and casting calls are held every day throughout the district. Models and aspiring actors line up regularly at production houses for auditions, dressed in their trendiest clothes, chasing that next big gig. Meanwhile, at the studios, cameras are clicking away to capture the latest looks soon to grace Jakarta billboards, fashion spreads and commercials.
Working behind the scenes is Dendy Oktariady, the young and ambitious owner of Fame Management. Since he opened the Kemang agency four years ago, Dendy has launched the careers of numerous models from around the world, bringing them to the pages of Indonesian fashion magazines. A trailblazer in the industry, Dendy is working to put Jakarta on the map as the world’s next fashion capital. Models from Fame are featured regularly in international and local fashion magazines, commercials and television shows.

Since his earliest days in the industry, Dendy has trained his eyes to recruiting fashion talent. At the age of 18, he worked as an event coordinator at Fashion Cafe with Indonesian actress Debby Sahertian. He went on to become a fashion columnist and stylist, before heading to Milan in 2004 to study under Luca Boccelli as a stylist and personal shopper. During his two years in Milan, Dendy also began working as a talent scout for a model agency.

On his return to Indonesia in 2006, he got to work setting up his own agency. Fame Management soon began to shake up the industry as Dendy started inviting foreign models to work in Jakarta. “When I was in Milan I cast hundreds of people every day who came from everywhere. I thought why can’t we do the same in Jakarta?” Dendy says.

Today, Fame Management represents 30 local and foreign models. Fame’s international talent hails from a host of countries, including Brazil, Russia, Holland and Germany. “Our agency is becoming so well recognized internationally that models from abroad now contact us,” Dendy says.

Fame actively recruits talent from around the world and especially welcomes models with work experience in other Asian
countries. But it’s the Caucasian models who are especially in high demand, according to Dendy.

“The image of white skin and blond hair is still the ideal picture for magazines and commercials to represent the international
look,” he says. “Just walk around a department store and you’ll see that for every ten models representing a product, there’s only one dark-skinned model.”

The industry has grown quickly in the last four years since Fame was founded. Jakarta has increasingly attracted models from around the world, and they are playing a vital role in jump-starting the fashion industry. “Our local models have to step up, learn and accept the challenge to be better,” Dendy says.

Dendy himself is ready to step out of his comfort zone to set a new trend. “This agency is like my baby. Now that it’s established it has paved the way for me to start other fashion-related projects,” he said. “There are now many competitors providing international models as well, so we’re going back to basics to dig for local talent. We always have to think like fashion, create something new and exciting.”

In June, Dendy established the De Mode Career Center, a sister company to Fame that aims to develop new local talent and provide training in modeling, acting, make-up and public speaking. De Mode also encourages those who are already models to develop their talents in acting, singing or other areas that will give them another career to fall back on after modeling. “Anyone can join to expand their career; you don’t have to be skinny and tall like a model to have a future in the entertainment industry,” he said.

The center plans to hold its first Talent Hunt competition at the end of October to search for local talent. The competition is open to any aspiring model in Indonesia and will offer the winner a scholarship to train at De Mode.

“My goal is to have an Indonesian supermodel on the international stage,” Dendy said.

Iwan Putuhena Reports

Original article was published in Kemang Buzz

Fashion Factory: FAME Management

Pictures courtesy of FAME Management Indonesia

For more information on FAME Management visit

My Jakarta: Angie Valerie, Jeans Designer

When friends asked Angie Valerie to help them with a project, she never guessed that it would lead to a business. Though she is still in school, Angie is now a partner in Jakarta-based jeans company Vision Mission. That’s fine by her, because she’s been hustling since elementary school.
Today, the 24-year-old Angie shares with us her passion for her jeans and her love-hate relationship with Jakarta, and clues us in on what might be the next big fashion trend.

What made you decide to start your own jeans company?

It all started with my friends’ school project last year. They created a business plan for a jeans company and since I’m studying visual communication design at UPH [Pelita Harapan University], they asked me to help with branding and design. From there the project became serious and they saw my commitment, so they asked me to become a partner. I’ve enjoyed working on this project since day one, even though I wasn’t paid. I’m the only girl in the team, this brand is my baby.

Where do you manufacture the jeans?

Everything is produced and made in Jakarta, from the raw materials to the buttons, even the packaging. While searching for suppliers, I realized that I could find anything I needed in Jakarta.

How did you come up with the name Vision Mission?

We had a few choices for names, but none of them fit our vision and mission. Then we realized that we kept mentioning the words “vision” and “mission” repeatedly, so we decided to go with that name.

So, what’s unique about the jeans?

At the moment they’re only for men. There’s no hype; we just focus on quality, branding and basic needs, so that the boys in the team would want to wear the jeans themselves. We’re just going back to basics because, at the end of the day, that’s what people are looking for.

What’s the price range?

They’re affordable despite the quality materials that we use. The average price is around Rp 390,000 [$43].

Are you competing with any other jeans companies?

There are several brands in Bandung. Last year alone, around 10 new brands came onto the market. Competition is always out there, although each brand has its own market. However, we support each other because we want people to appreciate local products because they contribute to the country.

Who’s your target market?

Anyone looking for comfortable, quality jeans at an affordable price. I have a few pairs of VM at home. Even though they’re for men, girls still buy them to wear as “boyfriend’s jeans.”

What do you do to relax?

I’m a laid-back person. You can find me at a coffee shop or the movies. There’s this place called That’s Life in Senopati; it’s my favorite coffee spot because it’s on the second floor of the owner’s house, so it’s very homey. It’s a good place to chat and spend time with friends.

Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur or an artist?

I’m more of an entrepreneur, but I never label myself. I love art and music, but ultimately, I want to make something that I can be proud of. Like an artist, I want people to see my work. For people to appreciate your work, you have to be able to market it as well, right?

How many tattoos do you have?

Five. A bracelet tattoo that I drew myself of a Native American feather, one on the back of my neck, a tribute to my grandpa on my back, a triangle behind my ears and one on my elbow that has a very deep meaning.

Any hobbies or businesses outside of Vision Mission?

I enjoy photography, design and cooking. I like to try new things. I used to work as an event organizer and I have contributed articles to magazines. Even back in elementary school I used to print off song lyrics and sell them to friends for Rp 1,000. I like to hustle [laughs].

How do you like living in Jakarta?

It’s a love-hate relationship. I hate the congestion, weather and pollution, we all do. The fact that there are high-rise buildings only served by narrow streets shows a lack of planning, but on the other hand, that’s what makes Jakarta different.

Where can we find VM jeans?

Strictly online at Starting up with a small budget has forced us to be creative and find an alternative solution to opening a boutique. Selling online is more effective because we can control everything better in real time.

Do you see a future for online shopping in Indonesia?

Yeah, I see a really big future, especially in Jakarta. We make use of media such as Facebook and Twitter to build personal relationships with our customers. The key to online business is trust.

So, what’s in? Are skinny jeans still hip?

They’re out, but it’s all personal preference. We have super slim and slim cut. Dry jeans are in at the moment. These are jeans that you never wash, so it adds lines and character to the jeans. And the prediction is that prewashed jeans will be back in style soon.

Angie was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Angie Valerie, Jeans Designer

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

My Jakarta: Dji Dieng, Supermodel

Now that batik has been officially recognized as part of the world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage, the next logical step is to have one of the most beautiful women in the world spread the word.

Supermodel Dji Dieng, who was born in Senegal and raised in Paris and the United States, was in town recently to promote batik and songket, Zero Malaria and “55” cigars, produced using tobacco grown in Yogyakarta.

Is this your first visit to Jakarta? How do you like it so far? 

I love it. I didn’t expect everything to be so cool. The shopping malls are great, the people are very nice and polite, there are many beautiful girls and the food is great. I love spicy food.

Have you had the chance to see anything around the city? 

Not yet. Yesterday, I got to meet designers Zainal Songket and Denny Wirawan. I’ll be doing work with them for a photo shoot.

You are one of the most beautiful black supermodels, yet Southeast Asian fashion is dominated by Caucasian and Asian models. Why? 

It’s simple, the color and height, everything is different, so it’s a new market. I hope by working with designers in Indonesia, I’m opening the door for other black models. I’m going to collaborate with Fame Management Indonesia to come here regularly to do runway shows and photo shoots.

You are a goodwill ambassador for Unesco, and have been honored with the Award for Humanity and the United Nations Volunteer Award. Where do you get the inspiration to help others? 

I grew up volunteering because my family has been doing this since I was born. They’ve been helping people in Senegal, by giving them food, clothing and shelter. I’m very active with HIV/AIDS and breast cancer prevention, and I have my own association for malaria awareness.

Tell me a little bit about your non-profit organization, Zero Malaria? 

Well, anyone can get malaria. You can get it anywhere in the world, in Asia, Africa and even Europe. Every year three million people die from malaria. It’s one of the most dangerous diseases in the world.

Have you had malaria? 

Yes, I almost died from it in 2004. I was in the hospital for six months. I got it while I was in Africa. That’s why I have to do this, because no one talks about malaria and how dangerous it is. That’s why I created my own association, to raise awareness. 

How can you help the Indonesian people and raise awareness here?

We do shows and concerts and we collect all the money to buy mosquito nets and medicine that we give away to the kids at schools in poor residential neighborhoods. We teach them how to use the nets properly to help save lives.

What do you think about fashion in Jakarta? 

I love it. Yesterday I saw so many great pieces of clothing at the mall, the traditional batik material is so good. I bought a lot of dresses for myself, and I’m very happy to be here, with all my heart.

Are you familiar with batik? 

Yes, of course. In Africa, we have something similar. Batik in Indonesia has a very good quality and a lot of designs. When I come back in January, I will do a lot of shopping.

You have the distinction of being know as the supermodel with the longest legs. What’s that like? 

It’s good because it’s in the record books. I was the third supermodel to take over the title and I hope no one takes the honor from me.

You work with designers like Christian Dior and Vivienne Westwood. What about up-and-coming designers here?

I want to work with them. The fashion industry in Indonesia is growing. If I can work with new designers in Europe, I can do it here as well. And it’s also because the dresses here are perfect.

Your cigar company uses tobacco from Yogyakarta? 

This is one of my projects that I’ve been doing for the past two years, exporting Indonesian-made cigars to Europe and the United States. The brand name “55” comes from five leaves and five types of tobacco, and you can see my face in the logo. Right now we are making the small-size cigars for the ladies. It’s very classy. I love cigars!

Dji was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Dji Dieng, Supermodel

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

My Jakarta: Dendy Oktariady, Modeling Agency Head

Dendy Oktariady has had his finger on the pulse of fashion since he was a teenager. Today, he is the director of Fame Management, which consists of a modeling agency, stylist and casting divisions and a whole lot more related to the serious business of fashion.

He took some time off from his busy schedule to talk about the growth of an industry that has ignored the global financial crisis, and how he’s working to put Jakarta on the map as the world’s next fashion capital.

How do you spot new talent?

We have talent scouts everywhere and they give us links to the models. If their look is in line with the Indonesian market then we invite them to meet with us. Height and look is what we focus on. The Indonesian market doesn’t really go for pale skin or blond hair; they are more into the tanned and dark look.

Who is your role model?

Tyra Banks, because I think she’s a model with a brain. I’m not a model myself, but I think we need more models like her to be able to build the fashion industry in Jakarta.

What is the most popular work for your models? And how do you measure their success?

Magazines, music videos, commercials and fashion shows, of course. For magazines, we always target the cover for more exposure. Each model has to get at least five covers during their six-month probation with us. If they can achieve that, then we will extend their contract for up to five years … or until they get old [laughs].

How did you first get into modeling and the fashion industry?

I started when I was 18 years old. I worked at Fashion Cafe with Debby Sahertian — she was the [public relations head] at that time and I was the event consultant. My job was to choose models for fashion shows every week, so since then I’ve been part of the growth and development of models in Jakarta.

Where did you develop your fashion acumen?

I studied economic management at Trisakti University. Then from 2004 to 2006, I studied in Milan under Luca Boccelli as a stylist and personal shopper. There I learned how to handle a fashion client, not just for a company but also on a personal level. I also worked as a freelance writer and contributor for fashion magazines, answering reader questions about shopping and fashion.

Europe, especially Milan, is the fashion capital of the world. Why did you come back to work in Jakarta?

I’m Indonesian and I think our country needs more talent in this industry, so why not focus on my own city? I was one of the first people to invite foreign models to work at Look Model in Jakarta. When I was in Milan, working in an agency as a model scout, I cast hundreds of them every day and they came from everywhere. At that time I saw an opportunity. Why can’t we do the same in Jakarta?

When was your agency established? How many models do you have right now?

I started my agency in October 2006. At the moment we have 30 models — 10 internationals from Brazil, Russia, Poland, Holland, Germany and the Philippines, and 20 local models.

How do you support local designers?

We pay attention to new local clients, boutiques and designers. We work with them for a more reasonable fee compared to our international clients. We want to help them, especially the up and coming Indonesian designers.

How’s the fashion business in Jakarta, especially during this global financial downturn?

I can sit here in my office while putting on nail polish and the phone still rings … Indonesia’s weird, I’m not so sure if people in Jakarta are being affected.

As the director of a modeling agency, do you get invitations to parties?

Of course, because I’m the image … queen of the damned [laughs]. All the clubs in the city give VIP treatment, so I take my models and talent there. That’s the thing about the entertainment industry; we entertain each other.

What’s the best part about your job? And what are the challenges facing models?

I love my job, especially if I have the chance to work with an airhead model, then that makes it interesting, fun and challenging for me … there’s an art to it.

In the book and movie “The Devils Wears Prada,” the fashion industry is portrayed as tough and mean. Is it really like that?

People in the fashion and modeling industry tend to be mean and stuck up, because they have high levels of confidence. If there is something in the set that is not right, we can terminate the contract in a second. For example, if one of my models has a bad attitude, I’d rather just let her go because I don’t want it to be stressful and ruin our image.

How do you get away from the stress of Jakarta?

The difference between my agency and others is that I like to connect and bond with my models. We do everything together — travel, work out and watch movies. I don’t see my models as dollar signs with a face. And in return, hopefully, they don’t look at me as the big boss.

Dendy Oktariady was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Dendy Oktariady, Modeling Agency Head