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Exploring Life & Business with Ivana Darmawan of Kasih Co-op

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ivana Darmawan.

Hi Ivana, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
I grew up in Indonesia and Singapore and moved to Los Angeles for college at UCLA. Growing up, my mom was always an entrepreneur and started her own business successfully. I saw the challenges she went through to start her own business as a female and that inspired me to have my own business supporting other women. In Indonesia, I also grew up appreciating handmade products because many artisans have learned this art of creating for centuries, so I appreciate our handmade, hand-dyed batik fabric, handwoven ikat fabric and wooden home goods that our Indonesian artisans made. Now that I live in Manhattan Beach with my family and call Los Angeles home, I long to bring these handmade artisan products that I grew up with and share with people who appreciate handmade and unique items with stories behind them.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I started Kasih Co-op in 2012 selling handmade jewelry via pop-up shops and online. I worked with a women-owned business in Indonesia when doing this. I was not well versed in scaling the business and wasn’t super familiar with things like ensuring I had multiple sales channels and marketing. Therefore, the business was stagnant and I took a break for a few years. I started Kasih Co-op again in 2016 when I was decorating my home with handwoven ikat poufs and afterwards, I expanded the product offering to include pillow covers and wooden home goods. In 2020 when COVID-19 hits, I read an article on The New York Times stating that batik fabric was a good material to make cloth face masks because we use tightly woven cotton so I started making batik face masks and we have since expanded to batik robes, scarves, table linens and batik and ikat quilt and throws.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
We create handmade products from Indonesia for a modern and global buyer. We partner with Indonesian artisans to create authentic and unique pieces for home and lifestyle including batik kimono robes, table linens, face masks and accessories, handwoven Ikat pillows and poufs and handmade wooden tablewares made from teak wood. All products are designed in the US, packaged and shipped by a dynamic California-based team. Every product purchased from Kasih Co-op is one that is working to preserve artisans’ skills in creating beautiful handcrafted products while also helping to scale women’s businesses and celebrate the culture and craft of Indonesia. Kasih Co-op aims to push more representation for female artisans including batik fabric producers, seamstresses, quilt makers, ikat fabric producers and more. 50% of the artisans we work with are women-owned businesses.

Our hand-drawn and hand-stamped batik fabric is made using centuries old wax and dye methods and they are sun-baked. Our ikat fabric is weaved using dyed yarns by our artisans. Additionally, for our wooden home goods, we source our wood from certified legal Indonesian government approved lumber.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
My mom is my biggest mentor, supporter, cheerleader. She always pushes me to make Kasih Co-op bigger and to figure out product market fit. Since she is in Indonesia, she is my go-to-person to see the details and finishes of our products. I have to also thank the Indonesian Trade Promotion Center in Los Angeles. They are a non-profit trade development agency under the Ministry of Trade of Indonesia that is showcasing our products in their showroom and they sponsor us for various trade shows.

    Link to Voyage LA interview: http://voyagela.com/interview/exploring-life-business-with-ivana-darmawan-of-kasih-co-op/

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