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15 Apr 2016
With millions of workers and a worldwide market value of more than $1 trillion, the fashion industry commands a huge part of the global economy. To empower women entrepreneurs in Indonesia in the fashion and textile industry, Australia Awards in Indonesia awarded 25 women a two-week short course facilitated by the Queensland University of Technology in Australia in May 2016.
The program - Women in Global Business - International Business Readiness - A scholarship for the Fashion and Textile Sector - was designed to develop a roadmap that revamped business operations, prepared participants to enter the global market and see a collaboration of cultures between Australia and Indonesia.
The group of dynamic Indonesian women clad in their own unique designs attended a pre-course workshop in Bandung on 11-13 April. They shared stories about the challenges they had faced during their years in the fashion and textile trade.
Lenny Agustin established her label in 2002 designing a consistently edgy look using traditional materials from different parts of the archipelago. The bold designer now has 24 staff and owns two lines, including a ready to wear called Lennor, sold in two department stores in Jakarta.
“To go international wasn’t on my mind, I didn’t think it was necessary since we have quite a big market in Indonesia," said Lenny on the sidelines of the pre-course workshop in Bandung. "It wasn't until last year when I participated in a trade show in Paris, I got four buyers and thought I am ready for the global market, but there are obstacles ahead.
“I’m now so keen to learn about the Australian market particularly for my ready to wear brand, and this short course is perfect for me."
The sentiment was echoed by Denpasar-based fashion designer Putu Unik Indrawati, who found that “the business side is my weakness.” Her line called Anemone aims to cater the professional women and men with an ethnic twist and modern styling.
“I’ve been thinking about what is next for my business. I have worked very hard to build it, but can I work smarter to expand it?" said Putu Unik. "Then I have the opportunity to be a part of this amazing short course to guide me to find the answers that I’ve been looking for and I also get to meet these inspirational women from various backgrounds together in this creative journey."
In Australia, these leading women participated in Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia in Sydney, as well as a number of workshops and industry visits that focused on understanding the business environment, planning for growth, export readiness and access to finance and capital.
Apart from that, participants engaged in networking and mentoring opportunities with influential women leaders based in Australia, including with Australian design schools, clothing and textiles manufacturers, fashion design companies and other networks and industry bodies.
Elizabeth Myra Juliarti, who founded the brand Siji, was keen on the program’s emphasis on mentoring and knowledge to ensure the business is sustainable.
“Mentoring is what spoke to me as I’ve never had it before. We have many young designers who are hesitant to develop their ideas and I hope that I can apply the hands-on-approach to them when I finish this short course,' said Myra, whose label Siji is a gender non-conformist and gender-neutral brand. 'We can create anything we want as long as we know how."
Dr Matthew Durban, Australian Trade and Investment Commissioner in Indonesia, said in his welcome remarks to participants that to do business offshore successfully, research and understanding the market are absolutely critical.
“It’s a challenge but it’s also an opportunity for you because you are embarking on this enterprise where you need to think global as opposed to domestic," he said. "And, all the challenges that come with that, not just finance, but also standards. Does your product match international standards, is your product protected? What is common is the challenge of knowledge. Once you’ve chosen the international market, you have to do your research to find out how that market works, who is your consumer.”
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