It was Tuesday, 5th of March 2019. As one walked down the pathway along the street of Queens Road, one cannot simply miss the cool breeze blowing gently from up north and lapping on one’s cheeks, as if heralding the coming of an early autumn that will bring so much relief to the scorching summer heat. Before long, however, you will reach the building of the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Melbourne. It was here that our guest star for the day, Mrs. Novita Yunus, told her impassioned story about how Batik Chic came to be. Graced by the presence of Mrs. Spica A. Tutuhatunewa, Consul General for the Republic of Indonesia (Victoria & Tasmania) and Mrs. Sherry Abdi, head of Dharma Wanita Persatuan (DWP) in Melbourne, the afternoon chat session titled “Small Talk on Fashion” thus ensued.
The humble and soft-spoken Mrs. Novita Yunus opened the session with a background story on how Batik Chic first started. Interestingly, Mrs. Yunus did not start her career as a designer. Before becoming a founder of Batik Chic, she was a banker at Hongkong and Shanghai Bank Corporation (HSBC) where she worked and followed her father’s footstep. When she had to quit as a banker, she began immersing herself into designing and incorporating stylish batik pattern onto retail items. Almost instantly, the items became a favourite and she was getting more and more requests from interested customers. The demand got so huge that she had to open a shop just to put and store her inventory. That was when the brand Batik Chic was born and it all happened in 2009.
Moving forward, she did not stop there. She continued creating beautiful and intricate batik designs as her business grew and demand came in. In addition to providing novel batik design, she also maintained close communication and personal relation with her customers and would give them tips on how to turn a seemingly mismatched clothing colour around. Her creativity also extended to how she was able to recommend to her customer how to turn a shawl into a full shirt and other neat tricks that made her clothes and fashion very versatile. Her talent is still very much apparent even today as she was able to replicate the same technique in front of a live audience during the talk.
Mrs. Yunus always kept in mind the need to engage and involve the endorsement of other big brands and corporations in order to allow her business to ride the wave to success. Her endorsement included but was not limited to her cooperation with brands such as Garuda Indonesia and HSBC. She shared that by doing this, it helped give publicity and garner public trust toward her brand both nationally and internationally. She also wished for Batik Chic to be able to hold its ground against other international fashion chains and brands, so she attended numerous competitions to raise social awareness of the batik fashion. It did not stop there. Her creativity allowed her to see that it was possible to combine the beautiful design of the batik with other types of garment and technique such as the Cashmere wool and the Shibori technique. Incorporating these, she made her own line of hybrid clothing that incorporated the batik design.
With such intense dedication, it was not difficult to see how Batik Chic had rose from nothing into an internationally acclaimed batik brand it is today. Her dedication also bore fruit as it garnered her numerous awards for her creative mind and passionate work, including the 2016 Kartini Award, the 2016 Galeries Lafayette Award and the 2014 Ernst & Young Winning Woman Award among many others. As she closed the session, she also said that she truly wished that one day, Batik Chic is able to be a leading brand in Indonesia and that she will be able to instill the love for batik fashion in the minds of Indonesian youths.
The story of Batik Chic may have sounded like a dream come true and the epitome of every business ventures, but its journey is still a long way ahead.
Text: Edward Tanoto
Photos: Tjin Tjin Jones