"Batik is more than a fabric — it is a history and a journey.
Hello, I’m Susan. I was born in Surabaya as one of four children.
My father was a dentist in the Indonesian Army and during that time, we moved around a lot. Since my father always wanted to see the world, we moved to the Netherlands when I was six. I liked growing up in Europe.
After attending college, I married and had two sons who are now attending university. I returned to Indonesia, which was a big culture shock since I learned to be independent and disciplined. I also didn’t speak the language anymore and had to start all over again and build new relationships. It wasn’t easy moving back, and during the first few years, I longed to go back to Europe, but now I feel at home. Someone advised me that you cannot change the world; you must change yourself first. So I learned to adapt.
Now I like to advise my own children to always be independent and strong no matter what life brings and if there’s a problem, there’s always a solution when you’re always open to suggestion, advice or help.
In 2004, I fell from a high ladder which resulted in a fractured neck. Being a mother of two little boys at the age of 38, this was a wake up call for me. I realized I couldn’t afford to get sick: who would take care of my small children? And what if my husband for any kind of reason was unable to work? How must we survive?
During this difficult time of having headaches and dizziness all day long and a paralyzed arm, I focused on fully recovering by taking better care of myself. I discovered yoga and it was life-changing. Overall yoga has improved my health, and many of my injuries are not a big deal anymore.
Batik and yoga are timeless. You do it for yourself, whenever you like it. Age, gender, body type don’t matter. And you can look at your batik as part of meditation and be at peace since it’s calming. When you feel happy, it makes you feel positive and opens you up to new things and fun surprises.
In the beginning, I used batik scraps to experiment with different styles. I didn’t like batik at first, but I love it now. The first time I made my own yoga bag, it was because I couldn’t find a nice, original, affordable yoga bag in stores. Because my tastes are different, I designed my own. It was a light blue tulis batik cotton bag. When my friends saw it, they were surprised and asked where I bought it because they also had trouble buying a cover for their yoga mat. To my surprise, a few of them ordered bags, and I was extremely happy they liked my work.
Right now, I work alone and am responsible for every part of my venture in creating yoga bags: designing, packaging, styling, marketing, advertising, purchasing, administration, quality control, inventions, planning, etc. The only thing I don’t do is sew them.
Now, there are many batik styles, and all of them are timeless and have a history to tell. The first bags I sewed myself were not very pretty, but were the right size and shape. Then I looked for a seamstress. The first person I approached was a housewife who had worked for a garment company. She could do this job easily at home while taking care of her family, but then I noticed that she couldn’t include the techniques. It took me several months to finish the bags. Since she was eager to learn, I taught her the basics. I learned to sew years ago after taking courses to make clothes, which I taught her.
I think about having my own workshop someday to help women who don’t have the opportunity to work because they lack education and are busy taking care of children. With a workshop, I can teach them and they can work from home, so that women and disabled workers can work on their own. In the near future, I’d like to make yoga bags for children and men as well as other items.
Batik is more than a fabric — it is a history and a journey. Hopefully Novica will spread the good work and create more awareness for this traditional craft.