Batik and Bamboo
The beauty of Indonesia is now in your hands...
Made in Bandung, West Java, the unique selection of phone casings by Batik Geek are irresistible, especially to those who admire the beauty of Indonesian art. These phone casings are made of high-quality bamboo and are engraved with icons of Indonesia in detailed designs such as Wayang (shadow puppets) characters, a Garuda, and batik patterns. To Bali & Beyond (BB), Afrizal and Nurulita, the owners of Batik Geek (BG), open up about their business.
BB: How did you first start this business?
BG: We started by selling a bunch of products on the internet in 2009, among them accessories for cell phones. In 2012 we wanted to do something more serious so we did a little bit of research. At that time we also had an assignment from a lecturer to make a business plan. So we decided to create a business plan that we hoped would become a real business in the future. In 2011 and 2012, Aztec and tribal motives became a trend in Indonesia and caught our attention. After traveling to some other areas in Indonesia, we realized that this country has amazing inspirations for designs. We wanted to bring Indonesian motives and icons to a whole new level and help preserve our heritage. Since we already sold accessories for cell phones, we thought why not combine these two ideas: making accessories for gadgets with Indonesian designs.
BB: What happened after you made that business plan?
BG: Our lecturer enrolled us in Entrepreneurstar 2012, a competition by SBM Institut Teknologi Bandung. We won second place and used the prize money for research and to perfect our products. Then we did a market test on the internet, and surprisingly customers loved our products. By the end of 2014 we also received the 20 Top Product Bandung 2014 achievement by the Bandung governor.
BB: Could you tell us about the process of making the phone casings?
BG: First we make a bamboo block, which is quite complicated because bamboo is different from wood – it needs extra care in the production process. Then these bamboo blocks are shaped using a CNC machine for high-quality precision, followed by doing the finishing touches by hand, before finally they are engraved with a detailed design using a special machine. Each of our products uses polycarbonate, bamboo, suede, and synthetic leather. We also do detailed quality control on each product to make sure that they all have the same level of quality.
BB: How do you decide on the design and the designers?
BG: First we settle on the concept, like which icons we want to expose and how the design should be. Then we research their philosophy and values – we try to find as many sources as we can, like reading books, going to museums, interviewing cultural expertise, or visiting traditional fabric artisans. Once we got all the information we need, we collaborate with a designer whose style and visions are in line with our concept – we collaborate with a lot of designers, and each of them has their own unique style. Sometimes, we (Nurulita and Afrizal) do some designs on our own from scratch. Like we mentioned before, we started this business when we were still in college, majoring in Visual Communication Design. That’s when we first looked for talented designers in many forums and communities from all parts of Indonesia, like Yogyakarta, Jakarta, Bandung, and elsewhere. Sometimes, we also went to art exhibitions to see if there were any talented designers we could work with.
BB: What are your visions in running this business?
BG: We want Batik to become a part of the urban lifestyle – and of course, cell phones are a big part of modern life. We hope with Batik Geek, batik and other Indonesian art will always be in our customer’s hands.
BB: To all young entrepreneurs who are interested in a creative business, what would you say?
BG: Indonesia is rich with diverse cultural heritage that we can explore and mold into a business. The most important part is to start with what you like so that you can enjoy every part of the process. And of course, start now before anyone else “steals” your opportunity.
BB: Are you planning on making more than phone casings?
BG: For now we only offer bamboo phone casings, but we are currently brainstorming for other products that probably will be launched by end of this year or early next year.
BB: Where can we find Batik Geek?
BG: We are available at several online shops like Zalora, Lazada, Shopedeca, and more, and of course you can contact us via WhatsApp or text messages. You can also come to our store, or follow us at exhibitions in Jakarta and Bandung. As for outside Indonesia, we have exported our products to Germany, Canada, Holland, Switzerland, England, Korea, Japan, and more.
Komp. Sariwangi Regency
Blok Cemara II No. 9, Bandung, West Java
Magazine issue > Profile&Potrait