My Jakarta: Drucella Benala Dyahati, Miss Scuba Finalist

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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

707

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

My Kemang: Dhiah, Clubber

Dhiah, 21, spends several nights a week clubbing in Kemang and is a regular guest at a number of venues. We caught up with Dhiah at Venue, one of her favorite clubs in South Kemang. She talked about what she loves about the nightlife in Kemang, the hottest places to party and her resolution for the new year.

How often do you hang out in Kemang?
I started coming here around four years ago. Back then I hung out in this area almost every day; lately I’ve cut it down to about three times a week (laughs).

What do you normally do around Kemang?
My night usually starts at Shisha Café, dinner at KFF (Kemang Food Fest), then off to Triple Nine, Venue, Nu China, or wherever the party’s at.

Where do you go most often?
I like to go to Venue, it’s one of my favorite places, because on Mondays it’s 50 percent off for drinks, and Wednesdays is ladies night with R&B music. I feel like I’m promoting the place now (laughs).

Do you get privileges as a regular?
Of course, but I already get special privileges just for being a lady; I’m talking about free drinks and entry on ladies night. I normally get invitations and guest list to places almost every day. And almost everywhere I go, there are people who also party as much as I do. We know each other from hanging out, so we join tables and party together.

Do you call yourself a ‘clubber’?
I don’t go clubbing to get that title or recognition. I just happen to really enjoy going out, being with friends, being around people, talking and drinking. So I think it’s an accidental status (laughs).

What’s the hottest nightclub right now?
I would say Second Floor, because they recently renovated the club and it’s packed almost every night.

Do you live in Kemang?
No, I live in Central Jakarta, behind Grand Indonesia, because it’s closer to my work place. But I would love to be in Kemang. I used to live here a few years back. It was comfortable because everything is in the area. But being away doesn’t stop me from partying here.

Why do you choose to party here, it’s so far from where you live?
It’s my second home. When you’re in the area, everything is near and convenient; the clubs, restaurants, boutiques and lounges. Everything is within a walking distance, so it’s easy to hop around.

Where do you work?
I work in public relations at After Hour Sarinah, a billiard bar in Central Jakarta. Before that I was an SPG (sales promotion girl) for a variety of products and brands.

Where are you originally from?
I’m originally from South Jakarta, born and raised, so I’m comfortable with the area and I’m not scared to go places by myself or to walk in the street.

Do you think Kemang is affordable?
Well, it depends. There are expensive places and fine restaurants, but I think there are many more places for young people and professionals that are affordable.

What do you drink when you go out?
I would like to drink my favorite liquor, Johnny Walker Blue Label, but since I can only afford Black Label, anything mixed with that will do just fine. My friends and I usually buy bottles, because it’s much cheaper at the end of the night than buying drinks by the glass.

Do you have a boyfriend?
Yes, he is a DJ at one of the clubs in the area. But I don’t go to Kemang because of him, because he plays classic disco, and I’m not really into that (laughs).

What don’t you like about Kemang?
Not being able to get a table especially when you really looking forward to go to that particular place whether it’s at the club or restaurant. Kemang is always crowded, and it happens a lot, particularly over the weekend, some places don’t take reservations.

What is your New Year resolution?
I will try to quit smoking, because lately I’m starting to feel like I’m getting short of breath. But I’m not ready to quit drinking just yet (laughs). In the beginning I wasn’t a smoker but when I’m drinking it makes me want to smoke, so it will be a challenge.

Recently the government banned smoking inside public buildings. Do you think they should regulate that for clubs?
Well it would be nice to provide an outdoor space for smokers, like a balcony or roof top. I think it’s a good idea to enforce the non-smoking law in the club, because sometimes when everyone smokes in a packed room with bad circulation, my eyes gets watery and my clothes and hair will smell like smoke when I get home.

Do you think there will ever be a “last call” for partying?
Not anytime soon (laughs). Only when I’m in mourning, like recently when my father passed away. I was sad and stopped going out for 10 days, but then I couldn’t resist wanting to go out again. I guess I can say partying is kind of like a healing process for me.

Dhiah was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in Kemang Buzz

My Kemang: Dhiah, Clubber

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

My Jakarta: Rizki Firdaus, Custom Bike Shop Owner

Pimping out rides is Rizki’s business. He’s been breaking down and building bicycles since he was old enough to reach the pedals and mastered the art of customization while studying in London.
Today, Rizki, whose shop is located in Panglima Polim, South Jakarta, shares his passion for bikes and asks why it costs as much to park one of his custom creations in the city as it does a Mercedes-Benz.

How did you come up with the name of your store, Velodome?

Basically, velo is French for bicycle and dome is shelter, so our store is a bicycle shelter.

How did you get into the bicycle business?

A while back, I broke up with my girlfriend. I felt this kind of freedom, like I’d just been released from jail. So I decided to get back into building bikes.

But I’ve actually been interested in breaking down and rebuilding bikes since I was in elementary school.

When did you start getting back into bikes again?

It was January 2007. I started all this in London, while I was attending college at London Metropolitan University. That’s when I started customizing bikes.

I got back here in December 2009. It was a perfect time because bikes are starting to make a comeback, especially around Jakarta.

Where do you get your bikes?

All of our stuff comes either from a consignment shop here in Jakarta or from people around the city, but the stuff we pick up at secondhand places actually comes from Thailand, Japan and other Southeast Asian countries.

And all of our parts and accessories come from Britain and other European countries, and we like to keep it that way.

What was the sickest custom bike you ever built?

The sickest bike I ever built was an all-black bike that we called the “stealth” bike. It had carbon wheels. I built it when I was in London for a friend in college. He wanted to bring it back to his home country, India.

But two weeks before he was about to go back, somebody stole it. The bike cost around $3,000 to build, but my friend wasn’t bitter about the whole thing. He just looked at me and said, “Hey, the reason it got stolen was because it was a really good bike.”

Do you have friends that you go biking with here in the city?

I go out with a bike community. We hang out every Wednesday and Sunday and ride around Jakarta from the south up to the center of the city. We go around taking pictures and eating around Menteng.

We just ride and have fun. The club is growing. Every week we have more and more members. Today we have around 50 or 60 riders.

Is riding a bike a way of life? What are you guys trying to tell the people of Jakarta?

Well, everyone knows about global warming, so that’s the big thing right now. We want to bring back the bike culture. It was slowly disappearing, but now it’s coming back. We try to raise awareness about the condition of the earth.

How is business then?

So far, business is really good. Most of our customers are from around Jakarta and Bandung.

What segment of the market are you aiming at?

All kinds of people, from people who are really into bikes and looking to purchase their sixth or seventh bike, to someone who works near their office and just wants to avoid traffic.

Or people who just want to lose weight. They all have different reasons to ride and buy a bike. But obviously — if they buy from me — they have style [laughs].

And you guys customize everything?

Everything. Everything from the color to the wheels, to the size and shape of the frame. We deliver a personal touch to your bike, something that fits your character.

Can you explain the process?

It’s kind of like getting a tattoo. You really have to give it some thought. You consult with us and tell us about yourself; what do you like and what you don’t like … kind of like a bonding session.

Then we build mock-up, and if you don’t like it we can redo everything. It’s very detail-oriented, and sometimes it ends up being a long process.

How much does it cost to customize a bike?

It starts at around Rp 8 million [$880] and there’s really no ceiling. There’s bike frames out there that cost $90,000 alone, so it depends on your buying power.

Do you ride a bike to work?

I live near Blok M and I ride a bike every day to the store at Panglima Polim. I try to ride my bike whenever I can.

Do you think there will be more or less people cycling in the next five years?

I’d like to see more people cycling and being comfortable about it. Not refusing to try biking just because it’s hot or because of the pollution. They have to act to make it better.

Where do you park your bike around the city?

Just like a car. I park it and tell the parking attendant to watch over it. I don’t have to lock it up with a chain or anything. Then on my way out, I pay the guy who watched over it Rp 2,000.

 

Rizki Firdaus was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Oni, Rizki Firdaus, Custom Bike Shop Owner

 

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

My Jakarta: Andanu Prasetyo, Toodz Cafe Owner

Andanu Prasetyo is doing something that isn’t on the minds of most 21 year olds — running his own coffee shop.
Located on Jalan Cipete Raya in South Jakarta, Toodz cafe is Andanu’s brainchild, a venture he started when he was — believe it or not — just 15.
In this interview, he shares what it’s like working with friends, gives advice to young people who want to launch their own start-ups and explains why rice carbonara is on the menu.

What’s the story behind Toodz?

Before I started selling coffee and food here, it was just a distro , a T-shirt shop. Then I started selling Komodo coffee with a college friend. At that time, all the distros were moving to Tibet, Jakarta, and this street had a lot of cafes and restaurants. The place already had a homey feel, so I just mixed together the two concepts — the cafe and the distro.

So you still go to school?

Yes, I do. At Prasetiya Mulya Business School in Cilandak. I’m a business management major.

Do you know of other students like you who run their own businesses?

Yes. In fact, one friend supplies my cafe with Tempora ice cream. Plus we only sell Komodo coffee, a venture that I and my friends are part of. It all started when the church my friends were going to started helping families in East Nusa Tenggara. They had good coffee around a village called Koko, but they had a hard time selling it so we helped. They needed a plan and help finding a distributor. To me success isn’t just about making money. That’s why the Rp 1,000 we earn from every Rp 10,000 cup of coffee goes to a kid in the village.

Do you think it’s good to have friends working with you in a business?

In the beginning I didn’t think so, but I have this friend and we sat down and talked about everything before he started working for me. So there would be no questions about our duties, and we both knew what was expected of each other.

What type of advice can you give to a young Jakartan looking to start a business?

I’m still learning, but treat your business like a business and not just an ordinary activity. You have to focus. This is about money. When I had the distro, I wasn’t focused on making a profit or anything like that. Once I went to business school, though, I realized I was doing things wrong.

What’s your favorite thing to eat and drink here?

Rice carbonara and hot chocolate.

Rice carbonara? That’s a lot of serious carbs, don’t you think?

Yeah, but Indonesians love rice. The thing about running a cafe is you have to be smart and find foods that serve two purposes. It’s called business-process efficiency.

How do customers react when they find out that Toodz’s owner is only 21 years old?

Everyone likes to point out how young I am. They see me doing everything — making coffee, food and then cleaning tables one minute. Then I ask customers, ‘How is the service?’ And they’re like ‘Wait, you own this place?’

What’s your opinion about Starbucks?

The coffee is too expensive. Overall it’s a good concept; they’re the ones who exposed everyone around the world to the coffee experience. But it’s like Dunkin’ Donuts saying that Starbucks just sells music and sofas. But then again, that’s what I do [laughs].

How often do you go out and spy on the competition?

Every Sunday I go around the city and see what everyone else is doing. There’s this place in Bandung I really like, Kopi Selasar. It has a gallery in the front and a garden and a coffee shop at the back. I like that.

Jalan Cipete Raya is a pretty popular area. So is your place packed on Saturday nights?

Not really. Our business fluctuates. We get a lot of people that come here to relax and be alone after they hang out and have dinner with their friends.

Actually if you didn’t know where this place was, you’d drive right past it.

It’s definitely a word-of-mouth place. We don’t do much advertising. If a bunch of people started showing up here, I think that would take something away from the place.

Do you rent the space here yourself?

It’s my family’s, but I still need to pay the rent.

I can see some Rubik’s Cubes on the shelf. Are you a fan of those puzzles? Do you think you’re good at solving them?

I think so. There’s a set of algorithms you use to figure the whole thing out. And I know which colors need to butt up against the other so I can complete it. To me it’s not about finishing them; it’s how fast you can [smiles].

 

Andanu was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Andanu Prasetyo, Toodz Cafe Owner

 

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

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 www.visionmissionjkt.com. 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: Irna, DVD Rental Manager

In Jakarta, you can get almost anything delivered to your house, but can you think of another place besides Subtitles, in the basement of Dharmawangsa Square City Walk, that can deliver a copy of “12 Angry Men” to your doorstep?

Today, Irna, the managing director of one of the coolest DVD rental shops in the city, talks about her favorite films, how Subtitles got started and which movies Jakarta film buffs crave.

How often do you watch movies?

I try to watch at least three or four a week.

What’s the best movie you’ve seen recently?

Something from the Oscars, like “Up in the Air” or “The Blind Side.” I watched them more for reference than anything.

How long have you been working here?

I’ve been working here since 2006. My partner, Rico, started this with only 30 DVDs. It used to be just a club; it was like a hobby. Then we got more movies and incorporated more genres, so we thought why don’t we make this hobby into a real business? That was in 2004.

How many titles do you have here? Are there any movies you want but can’t find?

We stock around 4,000 movies; they’re all originals. We hunt them down from all over. We buy them from suppliers, Amazon.com, Kaskus.us. Rico worked in Singapore, where he could find other titles, and now he works in London, so we get movies from there too.

How many new movies do you get a week?

Around 20 or 30 a week. We update the system here [there are six computers for browsing] and the Web site so our members know about the new titles we get in. They are always asking us, “What new titles do you have this week?”

And you deliver?

The premium and platinum members can have their movies delivered to them.

What are some of the most requested titles?

Independent movies. Right now it’s “500 Days of Summer” and a French anime movie called “Fear[s] of the Dark.”

What kind of people rent movies here?

We have two target markets: the rentals rely on adults and the [four] viewing theaters here rely on college students. We also have the “movie freaks” who are always searching for films from certain directors or certain countries and looking for the special features you can’t find on pirated DVDs.

Can you sneak your own popcorn into the viewing theaters?

We provide snacks and drinks.

Provide?

We sell snacks [smiles]. It’s just like a regular movie theater.

The movies shown in cinemas here are cut for censorship reasons. Is the same thing true for the movies you rent here?

Our movies come from either Region 1 [United States, Canada] or 2 [Europe, Middle East, Japan]. If you bought an original here in Indonesia, it would be cut so much that you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the movie — but that’s not our aim. Our purpose is not simply to rent out uncut movies. We’re trying to expand the knowledge of people who enjoy films. Most people only watch Hollywood movies, but we want to open their eyes to movies from different countries.

Do you rent out Indonesian movies?

No, not yet. There is a problem with distribution and the quality of the stories in the films themselves. But we do sell them. We have the Jive Collection from Blitzmegaplex for sale.

Indonesia seems obsessed with horror films. Are you?

Sorry, but I’m not a fan. The stories just aren’t really that well thought out.

What local movies do you like? Who are your favorite actors?

Mengejar Mas-Mas (“Chasing Dudes”) and Laskar Pelangi (“Rainbow Troops”). I really like Nicholas Saputra and I like Joko Anwar’s films.

What about international filmmakers?

I like [Martin] Scorsese and I was amazed at Ben Affleck’s directorial debut, “Gone Baby Gone.” I also like the work of Wong Kar-wai.

What’s your favorite place to catch a film here in Jakarta?

I like to watch movies at Premier 21 in Plaza Senayan.

Have you ever caught anyone making out in the rooms?

Well, we provide private rooms, so that’s private [laughs].

Irna was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Irna, DVD Rental Manager

Picture by Iwan Putuhena