#ChangeTheRatio

Tech world has been stereotyped as the men-dominated world even though the chance is for every body. There are so many factors that force the imbalance ratio to take place, one of them is the mindset (whether from men AND from women themselves) that women are less capable than men to do tech-related stuffs. There have been some initiatives to fight against such notion and I found one of them in Bali, it’s called The Institute of Code. They’re giving opportunities (in the form of scholarships) for women to learn how to code AND how to make money out of your coding skill. I applied for it because I think I’ve witnessed a lot in the field that I’m working in right now and I have some experiences to share, how the myth is not true. Also, I see the opportunity will help me in the future to support my other skill to achieve the career and lifestyle of my dream in the future. So that later I can tell to my parents, “Mom, you should’ve given me the same opportunity as you gave to your son. But never mind, look at me now.”

As an Indonesian woman, I know for sure that the imbalance ratio stems from more than just a mindset of women. It stems back to the family–at least that’s what happened in my country and what I experienced. When I graduated high school and was going to college, I wanted to study design, whether it’s fashion or graphic design. But those fields–just like other tech-related degree–are so expensive and my parents already sent my brother to a prestigious private university of technology in Indonesia to study computer science. So my parent told me that I could not go to an expensive higher education because ‘WE’ have to focus on my brother because he is a MALE. A son will be the one who’s working for the family and daughter will marry and stop working so that’s why parents are more willing to prioritize their son’s education than the daughter’s. My parents said that being fair is not about giving the same amount, but giving what one deserves and needs, so they assumed that I deserved and needed less.

So I ended up going to a public uni which was 8 times cheaper than my brother’s and studied something else. And my parents, it’s not that they didnt have money for me, they actually had more than enough saving for my education if I chose tech-related major, but they said they kept it for my wedding someday (at that time I hadn’t even started dating!). They said they’d been saving their whole life to afford my brother’s education and my future wedding. I hoped that there would be a chance after my brother graduated that my parents would change their mind and gave a lil portion of chance for me to study what I liked. Unfortunately, then my father fell very ill and we had to spent a lot of money on his surgeries and medication. So no money left and bye-bye, dreams.

But don’t get me wrong, my parents are good parents, they love their kids very much. They tried hard to give us the best. The only problem was that they did it in the way they thought how it should be done, which was also the product of their environment.

And I see that happens often among Indonesian families, so another reason why we only have few women in Indonesian tech-o-sphere is not only because we associate it as a man’s thing (like cars, soccer, etc) but also because we’re not given the opportunity to even know it. How can we know how it feels like when we’re not even given the chance to dream of it?

And now I’m pursuing my creative dreams, first I studied fashion then graphic design, self-taught from books and internet. Both fields, even though they have the word ‘design’, have very different environment. My circumstance in the fashion design world is dominated by women, while in graphic design women is rare. Especially graphic designer that can do web development. In the community group chat/ FB page, they called me with “Mas” instead of “Mbak” (It’s like Mr & Ms in English) eventhough clearly my profile pic is of me and my name is a woman’s name, because they thought girls are not gonna be joining this field.

Motivational fitness illustration with female silhouette and letteringI actually don’t know why it’s always been associated with men’s world, as if Snapchat is for women and making webs/ apps are for men. In fact in my 28 years of life, I’ve always been the one doing the techie jobs in the communities/ organizations I’ve been. For example, I was the one who set up, designed and managed the website for my theatre club and had to train guys simple tasks like how to upload a post and resize photos in bulk (they didn’t even know how to do them, let alone wordpress design. I designed my craft blog by myself too. (Well I know it’s not impressive or such a big achievement, for someone with no background knowledge in IT, that counts, hehe).

I was inspired by an Indonesian woman figure in our startup scheme, Alamanda Shantika, who was the former vice president of Go-Jek, the biggest startup in Indonesia. She was the first programmer of the startup, not only that, she’s also a designer. She’s my role model in many things. I listen to her talks a lot, stalked her, and found out that she was raised by her family who gave all the children the same opportunities no matter what the gender is. So Alamanda Shantika is the example of how Indonesian women can be when we’re given the same opportunities and trust.

She encourages Indonesian women to be more involved in the startup scheme or at least start to learn tech-related stuff, hence I started my steps with the graphic design thing. I know I probably cant be like her who’s able to build apps from scratch, my goal is just as simple as being able to build simple websites, I kinda like making portofolio websites for different individuals/ companies, I like the design process of it. And I know there’s a demand for it, more and more businesses and people need personal websites. It is surely in my list, even though it’s kinda hard for me to find the environment that can help me to accelerate the learning process. I’ve taught myself several skills but I of course wish I had the opportunity to be in the environment of like-minded people instead of learning by myself in my room with mentors I hardly communicate with. I hope someday I can follow Alamanda’s steps to #changetheratio in my own ways.

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Cara Menjadi Fashion Designer Otodidak

Dari kecil aku emang suka gambar dan suka membuat sesuatu, apa pun itu (termasuk membuat kegaduhan, haha). Tapi sayangnya minat dan bakat ini gak disalurkan oleh keluarga dan orang tua karena difikirnya hanya main-main dan di mata orang tua gw mungkin seni bukanlah pilihan hidup yang tepat.

Alhasil gw kuliah di jurusan Sastra Inggris dan kerja di lembaga konservasi lingkungan hidup internasional. Setelah beberapa tahun gw mulai jenuh dan berfikiran, gw ini sebenernya tujuan hidupnya apa sih, yang beneran bikin gw senang itu apa dan gw mau dikenal sebagai apa. Pekerjaan gw saat itu sangat baik dari ilmu, pengalaman, dan gaji, namun gw merasa sudah saatnya gw mulai fokus mengembangkan diri gw di bidang yang memang gw suka dan tidak terikat untuk pergi ke kantor atau dinas ke hutan belantara. So, gw memutuskan untuk mempelajari fashion design, namun gw bukan orang kaya, gw gak akan mampu untuk bayar biaya sekolah fashion yang biayanya selangit, belum lagi ditambah biaya hidup dan biaya per project nanti, lebih mahal lah dari biaya kuliah kedokteran paket ekstensi.

Bukan cuma dari masalah biaya, I also couldnt afford another 4 years of study, I didnt have the time, kecuali gw anak bangsawan yang mau kerja apa gak pun gak masalah. So gw menggunakan uang tabungan gw dan kerja apa aja yang bisa dikerjain untuk ngumpulin duit (dari ngajar sampe crypto trading pun gw jabanin) untuk mengambil langkah-langkah selanjutnya.

Walau pun gw bukan lulusan sekolah fashion, gw gak mau punya kemampuan yang malu-maluin, seenggaknya gw harus mengerti basic dari apa yang mereka pelajari di perkuliahan, baik dari elements and principles of fashion design, illustration, construction, textiles, manufacturing dll. Karena gw percaya bahwa everything in life can be learned, dan di zaman internet ini, akses belajar melimpah, asal ada niat dan mau ngeluangin waktu. Alhasil, walau pun masih merintis, tapi sekarang gw udah merasakan menghasilkan uang dari dunia fashion design. Ini berdasarkan pengalaman gw sendiri, apa aja yang gw jalanin untuk menjadi seorang fashion designer.

Menurut gw, banyak prasangka yang salah tentang dunia fashion dan title menjadi seorang fashion designer. Orang hanya tau luarnya aja dan hanya mau menjadi bagian luarnya aja, yang kesannya glamor dll. Terutama di Indonesia sendiri, banyak kita lihat figur designer, namun yang bener-bener melakukan tugas fashion designer mungkin gak seberapa. Bisa dibilang, kita beruntung tinggal di negara buruh, jadi upah para penjahit gak setinggi di luar negeri. Penjahit di negara maju pada kaya-kaya lho, karena pekerjaan skill dan custom products itu dihargai nilai tinggi. Sehingga lulusan sekolah fashion luar negeri, seperti Parson dll, memang diwajibkan untuk bisa menjahit sendiri, malah ada training dimana mereka disuruh menjahit 100 T-shirt untuk melatih dan membiasakan keterampilan mereka.

So, di Indonesia, bisa dibilang, kalo ada modal untuk beli kain dan mengupah penjahit, seseorang bisa jadi designer dan mulai menjual jasanya asal pintar membuat koneksi. Kalo punya modal lebih banyak lagi malah mampu menyewa orang lain yang lulusan fashion untuk merancang sebuah koleksi untuk dia. Apakah ini salah? Well, gak juga, rezeki orang berbeda-beda. Toh dia masih masih terlibat dalam proses design, walau pun gak terlibat penuh. Kalo di luar negeri, yang bisa mencapai posisi ini hanya nama-nama besar seperti Chanel, Prada, John Galliano, dll. Namun mereka menjalani proses yang sangat panjang untuk bisa sampai di posisi itu, John Galliano misalnya, doi bekerja di bawah nama orang lain selama 20 tahun sebelum menjadi sebesar sekarang. Namun di negara kita, proses itu bisa di short cut, itulah rezeki negara kita. Namun, yang perlu diingat, gak semua orang terlahir punya modal lebih dari cukup, seperti gw misalnya. Dan menurut gw, mengutip dari salah satu guru fashion gw yang sangat gw hormati, Zoe Hong, “Skills yang kamu kuasai atau tidak kuasai akan menentukan atau membatasi kamu akan jadi designer seperti apa.”

Yup, bener banget. Gw gak bisa bergantung sama yang namanya ‘hoki’. Gak mungkin seorang designer namanya di atas terus, terlebih lagi, gw gak mau kerja bergantung dengan lokasi. Banyak orang yang gak bisa pindah tempat tinggal karena udah terlanjur usahanya di suatu daerah. Orang yang punya ilmu dan skill yang lebih akan tau caranya untuk naik lagi ketika dia terjatuh. Ilmu dan kemampuan yang kita punya juga memberikan pilihan untuk gak selalu menjadi pengusaha dan berdiri sendiri. Kalo kita cuma bergantung sama penjahit dan modal nyontek model di Pinterest, kita jadi mau gak mau harus usaha sendiri, dan usaha gak selamanya berada diatas angin. Ketika usaha jatuh, akan susah kalo mau ngelamar kerja. So, in the end it’s up to you, mau jadi designer yang seperti apa, sama contohnya dengan pekerjaan lain, misal guru, what kind of teacher do you want to be?

  1. LEARN WHAT FASHION DESIGN IS ABOUT AND WHAT A FASHION DESIGNER IS

Pelajari basic dari design dan fashion itu sendiri. Banyak-banyak meng-google kurikulum perkuliahan sekolah fashion design dan mulai mencari informasi tentang masing-masing subject. Kalo gw sih, gw banyakin searching textbooks apa yang mereka gunakan untuk panduan pembelajaran dan gw search PDFnya, atau kalau gak ada ya terpaksa harus beli bukunya dari luar negeri dan harganya memang agak mahal. Tapi sebanding dengan ilmu apa yang didapat, karena kalo kita hanya bergantung sama resource berbahasa Indonesia, gak akan pernah cukup, kita masih sangat jauh ketinggalan. Gw memang bukan sarjana fashion, tapi ternyata pengetahuan gw gak kalah dengan mereka yang sudah lulusan fashion design, terutama sarjana fashion design universitas dalam negeri. Sudah banyak kok gw ketemu mereka yang tadinya lulusan SMK tata busana, lalu kuliah tata busana juga, namun ternyata pengetahuan dan kemampuannya di bawah gw dikarenakan mereka hanya bergantung dengan ilmu yang dikasih sama guru/ dosen mereka dan gak rajin untuk belajar dari sumber lain. Padahal ilmu itu selalu berkembang.

Dengan mempelajari benar-benar fashion design, kita jadi bisa tau siapa aja yang terlibat dalam pembuatan sebuah koleksi dan pilihan karir apa aja yang tersedia. So, pilihan karir di dunia fashion itu gak sesempit pemahaman awam tadi yang harus punya modal banyak. Contohnya gw sekarang, kalo gw hanya bergantung dari penjualan baju gw, ya gw gak bisa makan dong, secara creative works take time to take off, gw belum punya nama dan memulai dari bawah. Namun gw bisa menghasilkan juga masih dalam dunia fashion dengan kemampuan gw di dunia fashion yang lain, seperti freelance flat sketching and technical design. Apa itu? Ya di google, yak!

2. GET A TRAINING AND FIND A MENTOR

Kalo dibilang bener-bener otodidak, seseorang gak akan bisa bener-bener menjadi fashion designer, karena di bidang tertentu memang perlu guru dan proper training. Ada bidang dari fashion design yang lo bisa pelajari sendiri, tapi ada juga bidang yang kita memang mau gak mau harus mempunyai training yang cukup, seperti contohnya patternmaking dan menjahit. Walau pun kamu gak berencana untuk menjahit bajumu sendiri nanti, gak ada salahnya kita mengerti pengetahuan basic construction itu seperti apa. Gw punya temen (bule) yang jadi designer di Bali tapi langsung terjun bebas ke bisnis tersebut tanpa punya skill dan punya product, alhasil dia menghabiskan waktu dan uang yang banyak karena cuma satu masalah yang basic banget. Orang yang sudah mengerti basic, setidaknya gak akan membuat kesalahan sebanyak itu.

Namun untuk meminimalisir biaya pembelajaran, gw mensiasati dengan mengambil les jahit privat saja, untuk teori kebanyakan gw belajar sendiri dari internet dan buku. Namun gw juga mengambil les dengan seorang designer yang gw udah tau kualitasnya dan memiliki kredibilitas akademik, untuk mengetahui lebih dalam dunia fashion itu seperti apa sih, dan juga untuk mendapatkan feedback dan arahan design gw. Kalo belajar, dibilang gratis banget ya gak ada. Bahkan mau daftar beasiswa pun kita harus keluar modal kan, biaya tes TOEFLnya lah, medical check up, translate ijazah, dll.

3. PRACTICE AND SELF-DISCIPLINE

Bedanya dengan orang yang kuliah fashion, mereka mau gak mau harus ngikutin struktur, sehingga mereka punya timeline yang terukur. Sedangkan kita yang otodidak bergantung dengan disiplin diri kita sendiri. Ini yang paling susah dan gak semua orang bisa untuk fokus selama berjam-jam, berhari-hari dan berbulan-bulan untuk mempelajari suatu bidang.

4. DOCUMENT YOUR PROGRESS

Seringnya karena belajar sendiri, kita jadi gak tau progress kita ini udah sampe mana, beda dengan mereka yang sekolah, mereka punya grading yang lebih jelas. So, kita jadi ngerasa kok kayaknya pengetahuan gak nambah ya. Untuk mencegah itu, coba bikin track record setiap harinya belajar apa, walau pun hanya belajar 1 jam. Nanti misalnya sudah 100 hari, kita bisa melihat ke belakang kalo memang kita sudah berkembang dari kita sebelumnya.

5. BUILD YOUR PORTOFOLIO, NETWORK AND REACH OUT TO PEOPLE

Mulai lah mencicil dengan membuat karya, mau karya tersebut ada yang beli apa enggak, yang penting dibuat dulu. Disitu lah kita mengukuhkan kalo kita sudah memulai karir ini dan memberitahukan kepada orang lain tentang apa yang kita kerjakan. Portofolio itu mungkin gak berefek instan, tapi kita gak tau di kemudian hari seperti apa. Mungkin client gak butuh saat itu, tapi ketika nanti tiba saat dia butuh, dia tau bakal kemana.

6. NEVER STOP LEARNING AND ALWAYS IMPROVISE

Sudah menghasilkan karya bukan berarti tahap pembelajaran berhenti disitu. Semakin gw mempelajari suatu bidang semakin gw merasa gw gak tau apa-apa karena ternyata bidang fashion design itu luas dan dalam banget. Bahkan gw punya temen yang lulusan Parson pun bilang, gak akan cukup rasanya mempelajari fashion design selama 4 tahun itu, karena banyak banget ilmunya dan selalu berkembang. Nah lho, doi yang lulusan Parson aja bilang gitu, apalagi kita yang belajar otodidak, harus lebih semangat lagi! Hehe.

Dan kita juga harus pinter berimprovisasi dengan langkah dan karya kita, karena seperti yang gw bilang tadi, creative works take time to take off. And sometimes we fail, sometimes we succeed. So, if plan B doesn’t work, think about and execute plan C to Z!

Just never give up, every thing worth having never comes easily.

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My Startup Weekend Experience in Bali

I didn’t know about Startup Weekend until end of last year when someone who I just met for the first time–who then later become my friend–told me about it and volunteered to be my sponsor for the event.

I was in Bali for my fashion design course and as I am a hyperactive person, I always looked for interesting events in the area, I wanted to make the best of my time in Bali. There’s a cafe-coworking space in Sanur which regularly holds free events/ talks every week that I always tried to come when I could, even though it’s not close to where I stayed. In one event, at that time Aaron Mashano was the speaker, I met Jennifer. She’s a foreigner living in Bali and pursuing her fashion design career (but with different approach from mine) and she’s almost similar like me, she likes to come to events as well.

Then she told me that there was an event in the upcoming week which is very cool and a good learning and networking experience that she really liked. I didn’t really understand what it was at that time, and also hearing that it’s a paid event and in dollar rate, I thought I wouldnt be able to join. I was surprised that Jennifer just offered herself to be my sponsor, meaning she’d pay for the events and let me stay at her place during the event (because the event was held in Ubud, which is 30km from my place). It’s not cheap I think to give to someone you just met for the first time, I didnt know why she just trusted me, she only asked me to promise that I would give my dedication to the event. So I said yes and promised her that I would not take it for granted.

I didn’t know much info about what the event is about and how things would be run. All I knew is that you might pitch ideas of a startup and then we would be grouped into the chosen startup ideas. I didn’t know really clearly what to expect from the event, I only knew there would be winners in the end, and I like winning. So I already prepared an idea and a one-minute speech for a pitch.

Startup Weekend is actually a global event now run by Techstars with the help of a lot of Volunteers. It’s held in hundreds cities in the world annually, in Indonesia it’s held in several major cities like Jakarta, Bandung and Bali. But the one in Bali is the most different from other cities in Indonesia because the one in Bali has internationally mixed participants while in other cities are mostly Indonesians.

It’s a 2,5 day event started from Friday night until Saturday night. In 54 hours, we learned and experienced what it’s like to make a startup, from finding the ideas to brainstorming the execution to sell it. We’re given the opportunity to pitch our idea in such a short presentation time (so we had to make every second and sentence count) then sell it to market (the audience), recruit team, and make a product mockup. My idea and team was chosen as the 3rd winner. I was very happy that I also made a remarkable impression to the people there, every presentation I made always caught attention.

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It’s a very good event to network with people who might need your work in the future or if you’re looking for a side project to break from your routine. As for freelancers, networks is a vital part.

At that time I totally had no idea that it could be used for that, I was just there to compete and have fun. So I didnt understand why people were really putting their time, efforts and energy to the max for just a weekend activity. Now I understand that they were marketing their selves. Who knows you might find a potential client who’s looking for say a designer or programmer. At least the people who know about what you do could refer you someday to someone.

This year, I will join the event again or the ones next year in order to market myself. I will come back with different strategy and different mission. Last year I came to win and to prove my idea, but this year I’ll come to market myself as a graphic designer/ illustrator. If you’re a freelancer/ digital nomad, Bali is the right place for you to find and be found. Hence I’m preparing myself for it, that’s why I’ve been locking myself in my room since I arrived from SA to improve my skill, learning from the very basics. I’m not a good drawer, many people can draw much better than I do, but I’ve learned several skills by myself because I didnt have the fortune to pay for expensive schools. That being said, I’m a hardworker. I’ve had some plans what I’d do and make people remember me again, to tell that I’m not only a fashion designer but also I can do digital art work. Hopefully things will go as planned or better, I cant wait!! Watch Startup Weekend 2018’s video here and see more photos here.

 

The Truth about Living Your Passion

I’ve passed the phase when I questioned what I want to do to in life, whether I was doing my dreams or somebody else’s which is called the passion searching. That phase was filled with trials and errors and pivoting is common. In the beginning, the picture of what I wanna do in life was blurry, like solving a puzzle. At that time I was not sure what I wanted to do, but I’ve always been sure all the time about what I don’t like and don’t wanna be since I was younger. Along the way it gets clearer, I’ve never been this sure. It’s true that passion searching is important; to believe in it, chase it and live it. But after you find your passion and are sure about pursuing it, what happens next is not less important as the journey to find it.

You can find sooo many motivational speakers on Youtube to help to convince and motivate you to be true to yourself and find your passion. But in the process of chasing it (before you can enjoy your life from it), that job to convince and motivate yourself is on you only. Not many of them will tell you how hard, chaotic, mental, physical and emotional-wrecking it can be.

Unfortunately for most of us, our passions don’t typically fall right into our laps. We have to get out there and take action, often with a little uncertainty, in order to discover them. Hence oftentimes passion changes.

I will say that just because you’ve found your passion, not every body should chase it and risk the comfortable life and career path they’ve had before. Because it’s only for the strong, patient, resilient, and hardworking ones. Especially if you have decided to give up your stable 9-to-5 job and focus on your passion that could be in creative or anti-mainstream field. Be ready for the misery that it will bring too, because love doesn’t always come with joy. I’m still in the striving process too, but it’s been better than months ago. Slowly but surely, the seed that you plant will blossom as long as you do it consistently.

4484This is the phase when you’ll realize that it’s much harder than you thought it would be. That you  will question yourself, compare yourself to others, blame yourself for the things you haven’t achieved yet. Things will not go as smooth as you planned, there will be a lot of errors that test your determination, little things yet can be fatal and make you just wanna give up and go back to the normal life like other people.

You know what, every time I wanted to take my game to another level, there’s always obstacles, my phone got stolen, tablet suddenly got broken, DSLR camera couldn’t turn on, sewing machine didn’t do its job, everything happened in a row in just four months. These devices are my main production and marketing capitals which without them I can’t do much. Furthermore, I’ve been let down by the people I worked with, when they didn’t give the effort and quality they promised. There’s always things that happened to make me quit, for many times I seriously thought about quitting. But then I remind myself, this is only the beginning, too early to quit.

When you work a 9-to-5 job, there is already guidance, what you should do and how you will do it, you’ll risk other people money if you make mistakes, not yours. To make it worse, I always felt that I dont have as much time because I found my passion late, unlike other people who’ve done and got the opportunity to learn it earlier by picking the right major in uni as their passion. Meanwhile I couldn’t and I will never be able to. Even if I had been sure about my passion in creating fashion since high school, I would never have been able to go to fashion school or any design major because it’s so fricking expensive, my family can’t afford it.

And even when I’ve chosen my passion, there’s always parts of it that I don’t enjoy doing or I can’t do well. Don’t think that just because you do something love then you will enjoy every process of it. No, totally not.

Not to forget that it also means less money in the beginning, the duration may take months or years to eventually take off. This can cause another frustration when you’re used to be able to predict what you will get every month and then changed to you don’t even have idea how to survive tomorrow.

I’ve read somewhere a quote that says, the mid process of making a masterpiece always looks like a chaotic and almost-doomed ship. Which is true, every project/ design I’ve done that turned out to be good always made me had doubts in the mid process because it didn’t seem like it would. Meanwhile everything that I did smoothly turned out to be just a so-so result. So maybe that can also apply in life that if your life seems like a mess now, maybe you’re going to a great life in the future. They say, the enemy of a great life is a good life.

The graphic below from Austen Kleon’s book, “Steal Like an Artist”, perfectly describes the phase of executing ideas, where do you think you are now??

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