COTTONINK bagi Ria Sarwono: Persahabatan, Partnership dan Eksperimen yang Berhasil

COTTONINK for Ria Sarwono: Friendship, Partnership and Successful Experiments

A decade ago, before local brands became a trend in this country, we were still in love with fashion clothing.

Slowly, the creators created their own labels with various characteristics, with a touch of amazing creativity.

Among the pioneers of local fashion labels, Ria Sarwono and Carline Darjanto present a new color with their fashion label which they named COTTON INK. Who would have thought, with initial capital of IDR 500,000 from each pocket, today, eleven years later, they would have managed to achieve a turnover of hundreds of millions of rupiah.

Their brand is popular on online networks and has opened offline stores in several of the biggest malls in Jakarta. Listen to how they started, survived in the midst of the pandemic, and the strategies they used to ensure their business continues to survive in the future.

Starting By Selling President Barack Obama T-Shirts

In 2009, when President Barack Obama was crowned as president of America, Ria and Carline were among the people who were amazed by his reputation and charisma. This admiration encouraged them to make 24 t-shirts with Obama's portrait and sell them on Facebook. The capital needed at that time was IDR 1,000,000, which Ria and Carline each received from their parents in the amount of IDR 500,000. Unexpectedly, their sales were greeted enthusiastically by their friends, so the two of them returned to producing goods.

After the t-shirt, they tried making accessories in the form of a scarf, which could be made into a cardigan, perfect for wearing when going to the cinema but too lazy to wear a jacket. Or just to sweeten your appearance. They don't know that their products can be sold in a short time. In fact, the sales lines they chose were only around Facebook and Blogspot, where people use these media to post Outfit Of The Day photos.

Seeing an opportunity, they began to register their label at Brightspot Market, a prestigious annual event involving Indonesian creative actors. From there, Ria and Carline's journey continues to climb. Sales proceeds, which were originally around five million, jumped to fifty million. Both of them then decided to quit their main jobs, Ria as a piano teacher for children, while Carline was involved in the textile industry.

They have proven that their decision at that time to quit their jobs and focus on business was the right decision. Until now, their sales are very popular among online buyers. Not only that, offline buyers also flock to their offline stores which are spread across several of Jakarta's biggest malls, such as Plaza Senayan, PIM, KOKAS and Senayan City.

Good Communication Sustains Relationships

When asked about the challenges in developing COTTON INK, Ria quickly stated that the test of her friendship with Carline was something she had not anticipated.

Of course, market demand, production quality, and several other technical matters are also quite challenging. However, Ria admitted that her friendship with Carline presented a very personal challenge. There was no counting how many times they argued. The argument was quite serious which made the two of them understand each other better. Ria admitted that even though Carline was being blunt at the time, what Carline said was actually constructive. After that, Carline also apologized if her way of conveying something had hurt Ria.

Things like that then test their friendship as well as their solidarity in business. In the end, both of them realized that, once they at least had each other, they would be okay. From there, Ria concluded that communication is one of the most important elements in almost all relationships, including business relationships.

Together with Carline, who is very thorough in mathematical matters, Ria focuses on marketing. They are both looking for the right soul to breathe into COTTON INK. They create YouTube content, even magazines. The models they choose are not all professional models with ideal bodies, but rather models who represent a variety of body shapes and beauty. The goal is so that their customers can feel related to the messages they build through COTTON INK.

“When we still have each other, at least we'll still be okay.” - Ria Sarwono

Rejection that Ends in Blessing

Ria still remembers how the rejection she received from her dream campus forced her to always do her best. That day, his father told him to continue studying, even though he failed to be accepted at his favorite campus. From there, Ria was determined to be more serious about building her career for the future. Her father believed that lectures could make her more disciplined, this was later agreed by Ria and felt the benefits herself.

Now, after the business managed by Ria has been successful in the country, even though she has not made an explicit statement, Ria can feel that her father feels proud of her. If Ria hadn't been rejected at her dream campus at that time, would Ria be able to get here now? No one knows.

Facing critical times during the pandemic, Ria and Carline have postponed the opening of their newest store. They also prioritize which large expenses must be prioritized and which ones can be paid in installments. In principle, cash flow over profit. They also shifted their sales focus to online lines and reduced production quantities.

However, both of them believe that there are many lessons to be learned from this crisis, if we are willing to reflect on the simple blessings we have received.

Meanwhile, for friends who want to start a business in the same field as Ria and Carline, Ria reminded them that having a plan is good. However, actualizing the plan is much better. Then, we must be consistent with this plan, so that our image in the minds of consumers is strongly recognized. Lastly, we must be able to respect our business partners like traveling companions; because we will always need each other.

For the rest, we should make the most of technological developments. Many things can be used on Instagram, such as polls, for example. Until now, Ria and Carline are still involved in content matters, or relations with consumers. Because they believe, so far, only the two of them best understand the authentic identity of COTTON INK.

They are also still studying how the advertising budget should be allocated, should it be allocated entirely to online lines, or to open stores for offline consumers? These are the things they learn along the way. Learning by doing is more than just theory, but it really feels beneficial.

" Learning by doing is more than just theory, but it really feels beneficial."

If you are one of the readers who has the desire to follow in Ria and Carline's footsteps, don't forget to keep your business in the fashion industry sustainable, okay? Ria and Carline are also creative workers who really pay attention to this principle. For the rest, please start actualizing the plans that you have carefully prepared. Good luck.

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