Class of : 2005
Major : Business Management
Concentration : Business
Fashion is always interesting to most people. It is thus a popular style or practice especially in clothing. So when we talk about fashion, we tend to think of new styles and newest creations from designers. The industry in Indonesia is growing in line with the growth of the creative industry. To broaden your knowledge on the aforementioned industry, we interviewed Helen Wahyudi (Finance 2005) who is the Business Director / Co- Founder IKAT Indonesia by Didiet Maulana.
Helen and Prasetiya Mulya
Since high school, Helen envisioned herself having her own business. Once she had to decide on higher education, she was introduced to Prasetiya Mulya by her school friend. Our school promoted the undergraduate business program that made Helen interested in it. She told us that business program was something new back then. She was more accustomed to economic studies and management.
Helen then began her research and she found that our school is well known for the graduate program. She believed that the undergraduate program would be just as good as the graduate program. She was convinced that the school would not lower the standards. She was even wishing to be taught by the graduate program lecturers. Therefore she enrolled to our school without doubts. When she started her studies, she admitted that she needed to make some adjustment. She majored in finance because it was the most challenging for her. She also perceived the important need to understand financial matters to run the business.
“If you ask me about what I like most about Prasetiya Mulya, I must say the project assignments, starting from business creation to business plan. I consider these projects are fun because we are required to be creative too. The learning process is far from boring. It was not only reading the textbooks and memorizing the theories. We were encouraged and forced to run our businesses and implement what we have learned in class.”
Helen admitted that the program has shaped her way of thinking and attitude. When college was about having fun for most students, she felt that it was different for her. She has to start to learn to be a professional during her college time. Helen is thankful for the team assignments that taught her how to work in team with different characters. Working on the projects until late nights was something she became accustom to. She feels that it is beneficial when she entered the working world. Beside the assignments, Helen shared with us that she had to present most of her works. She believed that it increases her presentation skill. It is another thing that helps her at work.
Helen and her Career Options
She has always dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur post her graduation. It is no surprise that she chose business plan as her final assignment. “My team and I, we decided on brownies as our business plan. We opened a store in Serpong and rented a house for production. After graduation, I was still convinced that I would continue running this business. Unfortunately, one by one of the founder had found their calling along the way and we decided to close the business.”
It was the turning point for Helen. She then began her career search. She encountered one of her friends who happened to be an alumni of Prasetiya Mulya graduate program. He worked in Sony Indonesia and at that time was on the process of moving to a new company. He offered the vacancy to Helen and she subsequently applied to Sony Indonesia. She was called for an interview and when she passed it, she was offered the position of Assistant Supervisor Product Marketing for Handycam.
Basically, she was responsible in managing the handycam brand, including preparing the marketing activity from a to z. She also controlled the sales in every channel and made the order to purchasing. If we think Helen’s job is easy, think again. In addition, she had to train the promotion team about the products as a way to increase the sales. “I have one unforgettable moment when I started working. At that time, the two layers above me were vacant. I had no supervisor nor manager. I reported directly to the CEO. One day, I encountered a problem and I came to see him. He was annoyed and told me that I was hired to come up with a solution to a problem. His words stuck with me and I learned to be more independent and to find the solution to the problems.” With the proven performance, she was promoted to be the Supervisor of Product Marketing for handycam. She informed us that her responsibilitie were the same.
Business and Creating Employment in the Fashion Industry
When Helen was still working, she continued to feel the urge of creating another business. She was aiming the F&B industry again, considering her prior experience. “I wanted to open a café and I was looking for business partners. I think I kept saying it everywhere I go with friends. Unexpectedly, Didiet Maulana came up to me and shared his idea about opening up a fashion line.He asked me to be his partner and I was assigned to support the business matter while he would take care of the creative department. It was all just the beginning. Didiet has the idea and we brainstormed to create our business. Once done, we started it in 2011 while we both worked.”
They were both paving their career in a company. She told us she resigned from Sony a year after they started the business because they wanted to focus. IKAT by Didiet Maulana is a fashion line with several business models. Helen is the Business Director / Co- Founder. She is responsible of operation, production, and recruitment. Knowing that the business is still growing, Helen prefers hiring a financial consultant to make the reports. She informed us that she also meet with corporate clients because she hasn’t found the right sales person.
Helen’s previous experience somewhat helps her to run the business better. “This fashion line is totally different from Sony. My working experience made me learn about system, starting from approval system to human resources. Then again, I continue learning by doing and we’re improving everytime by noticing the mistakes we made. I am grateful that I studied in Prasetiya Mulya because it heightens my business sense.”
Helen admitted that at the beginning she had no intention creating a business in fashion. Now that she is in it, she finds it interesting for all the challenges she encounters. She said that operation is the most complicated matter in the business. She controls the production and thinks of how to increase the productivity. She smiled telling us that managing people needs is not easy. In regard to the industry itself, Helen feels the trend is interesting. “When we talk about IKAT, we are different because we want to bring tenun ikat alive in the fashion world. We are trying to shift people’s perception that tenun is only for formal occassion. The ever changing trend is also interesting because we have to keep up with it and see what uniqueness that we can offer the market. One more thing, attending fashion shows is another highlight of working in this industry.”
She has been mentioning about the challenge in the operation side of the business. She then explained to us about the business process. First, the main designer with his team will brainstorm ideas of the design based on the research they do and the feedback given by the sales team. Once the designs are done, the operation team starts their work which includes searching for fabric to the shipment of the product nationwide.
If you work in the retail fashion industry, you might have many colleagues, but working in a fashion line like IKAT, you will be in a small team. It is no surprise when Helen told us that the culture is more flexible compared to working in corporation. She added that it feels familiar too. “You will see different working culture if you work in fashion line like me. The majority of the worker here is labors. They are very close one another and very loyal. The management team is really focusing on that. The way we talking to them also differs from the way we talk to supporting staff. But overall, the working culture is flexible.”
Fashion industry may not be for everyone. We tend to think that people with fashion design background has bigger working opportunity in the industry. Helen explained that there are opportunities for non-design background graduate. She says there is always marketing, communication or public relation, and business development. Most applicants have interest in fashion. She reminded that the organization is flat if you want to work in it.
Helen explains that the challenge will be in production and how to make her product to become mass. Many fashion lines with different style and price range. To succeed in the industry, Helen adviced to be creative. Besides that, you have to be able to work under pressure too.
Helen’s Future Plans and Her Words of Advice
Being an entrepreneur for six years mean that she has no plan working in a company. She wants to focus on developing IKAT and to improve the internal production. In the long rung, she wants to bring IKAT to international trade show to expand their market.
With her experience, she realized the difference between campus life and real life. “When we were studying, we feel that we can do anything. We can implement all the theory, especially in business. Yet we will come to realization that it is not that easy in the real life. We have to be humble and down to earth.” In addition, to prepare ourselves for the future, she advises to experience many things. Do many business projects. She believes that we can learn from our mistakes and become someone who is not easy to give up.
Helen quoted, “Failure is not having the courage to try. The only thing standing between most people and their dreams is the fear of failure.”
Two standout Prasetiya Mulya’s graduates tell their exciting career journeys that have unlimited their potential and ability in Sampoerna.
© 2014 Prasetiya Mulya
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