Being an expat parent may mean putting a career aside but for some, it also means seizing the opportunity to do something new and different, perhaps even launching a business. I’ve thought of it and have been offered to co-invest in business ventures in the past but feel trapped by the lack of visibility over the coming years (what happens when we move onto our next destination?). Today I want to share with you the interview of Naomi and Judith, the founders of Duduk, who not only created their collection of beautiful batik home accessories while living in Jakarta but successfully manage to make their brand grow despite now living in two different countries.
And if you love Duduk’s product as much as we do, here’s an exclusive 50% discount code for the readers of Team-Curious: TEAMCURIOUS_50OFF, valid from April 20th till April 30th on Duduk online shop here.
Happy shopping and reading!
Hi Naomi, Hi Judith! Thanks for taking the time to share the story behind Duduk! How do you know each other?
We met during our expatriation in Indonesia. Our paths naturally crossed given that we were both pregnant and coincidentally both from The Netherlands. Arriving to Indonesia pregnant meant that looking for a “regular” job was pretty much out of the question. Once our sons were born and were around 6 months old we started looking for something to do next to being a full-time mother. We both shared a love for textiles and wanted to do something meaningful with our time while still having the flexibility of working from home. This led us to explore the beautiful textiles of the Indonesian archipelago and after an initial exploratory trip to Cirebon, loaded with our first batch of gorgeous Batiks, DUDUK was born.
What is your background? Did you have any entrepreneurial or design experience before DUDUK?
Actually, we had zero entrepreneurial experience. Obviously some experience would have been beneficial, but what we lacked we learned on the go. Judith’s background is in hand-therapy and mine was in Marketing and Business development so it was really nice to put those skills to use growing a business that was ours. Judith knew how to work a sewing machine and had enough technical know-how to help perfect our early designs. I suppose you could say both of us were design hobbyists, Judith in her student days used to find old furniture from thrift stores and enjoy reupholstering them. I have always had a love of interiors and as a teenager would be spend hours decorating and redecorating my room. Our biggest challenge I’d say though was not the lack of experience but the lack of sleep!!! The early days of DUDUK juggling pregnancy, newborns and toddlers made for some very challenging and questionable Excel sessions!
How was Duduk born? And how did you get to where you are now?
The growth of DUDUK has been very organic. Our first two years in Jakarta were dedicated to perfecting the product line and testing the market. This we were able to do through various open houses and bazaars. The response we got during that time was overwhelmingly positive and this really encourages us to continue building DUDUK even though we were both leaving Jakarta. During our last year in Jakarta two more babies were born and we started outsourcing our production to a third party in Bali. This allowed us to continue running DUDUK from Singapore and The Philippines, our next destinations.
Where is Duduk collection sold?
Where are you living now? Are you based in the same city?
Judith lives in Singapore and I live in Manila.
Can you tell us how moving out of Jakarta has impacted your business?
In our case the timing was good in the sense that after testing and perfecting our products we were ready to take DUDUK to the next level. We also saw the move as an opportunity to grow DUDUK in other markets outside Indonesia. Working remotely has had it’s challenges but thanks to Skype and WhatsApp we have been able to stay in close contact with suppliers and each other.
How many people work for Duduk now?
DUDUK works with a dedicated team of artisans in Bali and Semarang that hand-craft our collection. We also have a team that handles shipments for the online shop, however, none of these people are on our payroll as we like to keep things as simple as possible.
Becoming more green is one of Duduk’s commitment, could you tell us more about how you source your materials, where is Duduk’s collection made…?
Because we work a lot with existing suppliers and don’t produce our own Batik (we used to but to make a long story short we stopped) we instead select suppliers that are more eco-conscious for example one of our Batik suppliers produces organic Batik using natural dyes in the coloring process whenever possible (sadly it is not always an option depending on colors). From the choice of packaging materials to how we ship things, our environmental footprint as a business is something we take into consideration every time we make a business decision. We also try to re-use the Batik as much as possible by finding new products to incorporate even the tiniest scraps we have left. DUDUK also collaborates with the Bali Life foundation by supporting their livelihood project for disadvantaged women. All our small items like our colorful buntings and mermaids (made using with Batik scraps) are part of this initiative and sales from these items directly benefit the program. One day we hope to launch an eco Batik line using organic cotton and dyes but if there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s to take things one step at a time.