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”

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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

My Jakarta: Rio, Dairy Farmer and Former Banker

Where’s the beef? Got milk? In Jakarta, about the closest you can get to an actual cow is probably the meat section at Kem Chicks. Which makes Rio’s career switch all the more unusual. This former Jakarta banker quit his desk job to become a dairy farmer.

Recently, he took us to one of his farms, about two hours outside of Jakarta, and told us how he milks money from cows.

How far away is your farm from your home in Central Jakarta? 

I have two farms. One is in Ciawi, near Bogor, about an hour’s drive from Jakarta, and the other is in Lembang, about two hours away, close to Bandung. I go to Lembang every Monday and Thursday and I spend the other days in Ciawi.

How many employees do you have? 

There are around 30 workers on each farm. Most are local people and some live on the farm.

What products do you sell from your farms? 

We sell dairy products and vegetables. Cow’s milk, goat’s milk, yogurt, ice cream, tomatoes, broccoli, chilies, strawberries, blackberries and many other products.

You distribute it in Jakarta? 

Everywhere. Some of the restaurants, schools and gyms in Jakarta carry my yogurt and ice cream products, the milk is bought by a recreational park and the vegetables go to the high-end supermarkets in Jakarta. I also have a wholesale market in Lembang where you can buy directly.

Have you ever milked a cow? 

No, because we do that in the morning, when I’m usually still driving. Not everyone is able to milk a cow. You have to know the technique or you’re going to get a kick in the face. If someone milks a cow while feeling stressed, physiologically the cow senses it and won’t produce as much milk as it should. You have to be in a good mood to do it. I have a machine as well, but it produces less milk than traditional milking.

How much milk can each cow produce? 

Ideally, at least 10 liters. That’s how much it should produce just to break even. If you can get 15 liters, then five liters is your profit. Any cow producing below 10 liters will be sent to the slaughterhouse, usually after five to six years. Cows produce milk after they give birth; usually the third time is when production peaks.

What do they do all day? 

They eat, sleep and crap.

What do you do with all the waste? 

We reuse everything. The dung and the urine from the cows and goats is used as fertilizer, mixed with other materials and vitamins for the broccoli, tomatoes and everything else we grow on this farm.

Did you study agriculture? 

No, I studied finance in the States, and when I got back I worked at a bank. Then my parents wanted me to continue this family business, and now I’ve been doing it for eight years. In the beginning, I did a lot of reading, and I think I have a library full of books about cows and farming.

Can you raise cows in the city?

Yes, there’s a cow farm near Setiabudi. It’s a good business because the transportation fees are low when it comes to distributing the products. But I prefer to be outside Jakarta where the air is still fresh and there’s more space to do other things such as grow vegetables.

So it’s a good business? 

Any business is good as long as you have the market. Nowadays not many people go into farming. They’d rather invest in stocks or a restaurant. Farming is not easy and you don’t make that much profit. I do things properly by maintaining high standards, feeding the cows the best nutrients and investing in proper stalls and the right people to do the job. I have also invested in machines to make ice cream and yogurt, because every liter sells at three times the price of milk.

When you look at these cows, does it make you want to eat a hamburger? 

I eat beef, but I’m not crazy about it.

It’s not because you feel sorry for them? 

No, I don’t feel sorry. I feel bad seeing them chained. I would like to have a place where the cows could walk freely. Usually we let the calves walk around.

Do you have a favorite cow? 

No, because I don’t want to get attached as I know they’re heading for the slaughterhouse. I like to play with them and tease them. Once, I was too aggressive and the chain came off, so I ran as fast as I could [laughs].

Cows are cool. Could I keep one as a pet? 

Sure, why not, there is a bule near my farm in Lembang who owns a villa and keeps cows as pets.

Do you enjoy being on the farm more than working in the city behind a desk? 

Yes, of course, time is very precious to me. When I worked for someone else, I felt like I was trapped. Having my own business, I get control over my time, even if it means I have to work harder. I enjoy the fresh air of the countryside and walking in the fields. Working behind a desk, I felt no better than one of these cows: eat, sleep, produce milk, and when you’re no longer producing, you’re dead [laughs].

Rio was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Rio, Dairy Farmer and Former Banker

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

My Jakarta: Dog Breeder Musashi

If you’re a dog lover, it’s likely that a golden retriever is at the top of your list of pooches to own. It seems unfair to other breeds, but how can you beat the beauty and smarts of a golden? Musashi is not only the proud owner of a champion golden, he also manages Freezco kennel in Jakarta. He talks about dog breeding and breaks down what it takes for man’s best friend to be called a champion.

How’s the pet business doing?

I don’t consider what I’m doing a business. I look at it more as a hobby. If it’s a business, it would all be just producing dogs and selling them, and I wouldn’t care about who was buying the dogs. But that’s not what happens here. I keep the ones I really like. I feed them premium food, maintain and groom them, and hire assistants to take care of them. It’s not cheap. It’s an investment.

So how long have you been doing this? 

Since 2007. I started breeding Rottweilers, but now I’m focused on golden retrievers.

Have you always been a dog lover? What was your first dog? 

I’ve always loved dogs. I think I was in high school when I saw the movie “Air Bud” and I fell in love with goldens. Since then, I’ve always wanted a golden retriever, and that was my first anjing ras [purebred dog].

For how much do you sell the puppies? 

For between Rp 4 million and Rp 5 million ($430 to $540). At pet shops around Jakarta, they sell for around Rp 7 million.

Do you also sell puppies to pet stores? 

No, I don’t. I have nothing against them, it’s just that I like to know who’s buying my puppies so I can see them grow or I can visit them. Who knows, maybe the same dog that I sell could be a potential mate with one of my dogs in the future. When someone is interested in buying one of my puppies but he is from outside Jakarta, I think twice before selling to them. The bottom line is I still want to see my dogs even after I sell them, to be sure they’re being cared for.

Is it hard to breed dogs? 

Yes, it is. Especially when I was just starting out, it was hard to get it right. Before, I thought if you owned a dog, it would be easy to breed, but I was wrong. I failed many times trying to breed Rottweilers. In the beginning, most of the puppies died. But I finally got it right in 2008, when I started to breed the dogs within my own kennel instead of having to mate them with dogs from other places.

So why did you stop breeding Rottweilers? 

Believe it or not, I’m not allowed to own a black dog. The puppies always die. The dogs fall sick when they’re with me, but after I give them away, they become champions again. Then someone told me that my family was not allowed to own a black dog, or at least that’s the myth. I really don’t have a logical explanation.

Can you trace the blood line of your dogs?

My dogs have American blood, but some people say they’re European. European breeds have lighter hair, while American golden retrievers have brown hair. But there’s a bit of confusion because the American breed has been mixed with other breeds many times over the generations, that’s why it looks different. My dogs’ breed is rare. You can track the history of my dogs to the early 1900s. They have the blood of a champion.

When do they call dogs champions? 

They’re called that when they win a tournament. Around the world, including in Indonesia, dog clubs have these events and that’s when dogs compete. There are many types of certifications — both minor and major — based on breed, age range and gender. There are also different titles like “best in show,” “best of breed” and many others. But to be able to be called a champion, a dog has to achieve two minor titles and one major title certified by Perkin [the All Indonesian Kennel Club].

I saw this puppy at a pet store, and the guy there told me it was a champion. How do I know if he’s telling the truth? 

That’s not possible. They have to be over a year old to be able to compete and be named a champion. What he probably meant was one of the dog’s parents was a champion.

How come there are so many champion dogs in Jakarta? 

Because there are so many events, especially in the city. What people don’t know, however, is that it’s actually difficult to win titles in Indonesia compared to other countries.

How do they judge the dogs? 

They look at their teeth, their body, posture, temperament and the way they walk.

How many times have your dogs won a certificate or a title? 

One of my champion dogs, Amous, has nine titles.

What are your plans for the future? 

My goal really is to maintain a strong bloodline for generations. So when people see a purebred, they will say that it came from my kennel.

Musashi was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original Interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Dog Breeder Musashi

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

My Jakarta: Melvyn, World Traveler

Melvyn knows her way around the country. But in due time, she may know her way around the world as well.

As a travel consultant, she has virtually figured out the global road map like the back of her hand. But her recent trip to Europe as a lone backpacker gave her a more intimate insight into other countries to which most of us only dream of going. It also helped her gain a better understanding of herself and how to travel on the cheap with help from a very useful Web site.

You just recently came back from a trip to Europe. Tell me about that experience. 

It was great. I finally got to travel by myself. I’ve been dreaming of going on a backpacking trip all my life, and I think I just spent all of my life savings [laughs], but it was worth it. I went to Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands in 45 days. I gained a lot of experience during that trip. There are just so many stories to tell.

Do you think it’s better to travel alone or be with friends?

I used to be indecisive when I was with my friends, but because I went on this trip alone, I felt like I learned to make decisions on my own. Traveling alone is nice because you make decisions by yourself. If you want to do something or go somewhere, you just do it. But I did constantly meet up with people everywhere I went, mostly from CouchSurfing.org

Tell me a little bit about CouchSurfing.org. 

It’s a nonprofit organization with members from around the world. Basically, it’s a Web site that helps you find a host who can accommodate your stay in a country you choose to visit. And you can also be the host yourself. To be able to experience a new culture right at your home is cool, but it’s also a good way to meet people. And not everyone just wants to find a place to crash. Some just want travel tips from locals.

You are a couch surfer representing Jakarta. How long have you been doing this? 

About two years. I’m living with my cousin, so I can’t always invite people to stay at our place. But being a host doesn’t always mean that your guests have to stay at your place. You can also serve as their guide and take them out for a good time.

Where do you usually take your guests? 

Standard sightseeing, which includes going to Monas, the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, the old city and the highlight, of course, is making them eat durian. I also take them out to the city and ride the ojek , the bajaj and the bemo .

Where do your international guests usually come from? 

From Singapore, the US, Portugal, Holland and England.

How many couch surfers are there in Indonesia? 

In Indonesia there are thousands, but in Jakarta there are only a few hundred. I don’t know the exact number, but I know not everyone is active.

Don’t you think it’s dangerous to invite strangers into your own home? 

There are people who think it isn’t appropriate to invite strangers to their homes. But by letting them stay, I think you’ll eventually get to know them better. And there’s a reference system that you can also use. I’m sure there are incidents, but that can happen at any networking site.

Where are you do you originally come from? 

I’m from Palembang, South Sumatra. I was born there and I stayed there until I was in high school. I moved to Bandung to study at a university where I took up communications science and public relations. I moved to Jakarta in 2005.

Why made you decide to move to Jakarta? 

When I lived in Bandung, I spent most of my weekends in Jakarta. After I graduated, I got an offer to work at a company that was into wedding photography. Then one day I saw an ad from a travel agency, and I thought it could be interesting. I applied, got accepted and I’ve been working in the field ever since.

Tell me a little bit about working at a travel agency. 

I work as a travel consultant. I make reservations for plane tickets and hotel accommodations. I’m also into product development and serve as tour leader. I do a lot of research, organize information and get in touch with local travel agencies everywhere that can work with us. I’ve arranged tours to China, Egypt, Thailand and several more countries. I’ve also served as a tour guide for destinations around Southeast Asia.

So you managed to ‘couch surf’ throughout your recent trip? 

Pretty much. I was serving as a host before my recent trip, so when it was my turn to travel, some of the people that stayed at my place kind of returned my hospitality. I was sleeping in all sorts of rooms. I stayed in a living room, a guest room with a private bathroom and at times on the floor with only a blanket. You just can’t be picky.

Have you been able to coach-surf around Indonesia? 

Yes, at Bandung, Bali, Solo, Semarang and Yogyakarta. Even though I have friends living in Bandung, I stay with other couch surfers because I travel with a guest. This is to meet people from other parts of Indonesia with the same ideas in mind: traveling on a budget.

Melvyn was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Melvyn, World Traveler

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