Lisa Mihardja
    Category: 10 Inspiring Women: Honor Roll By : Michael Roddan and Sonya Angraini Read : 3578 Date : Monday, March 10, 2014 - 07:28:07

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    Lisa Mihardja is on a mission to bring batik to the world. Through her PT Alleira Batik, the company she cofounded in 2005, Lisa has taken Alleira from a small startup to a chain of 10 stand-alone boutiques, two franchised boutiques in Makassar and Medan, along with 30 outlets in department stores, as well as outlets in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.

    Her ultimate goal? To make Alleira the first global batik brand. To do so, Lisa took a fresh approach to batik design. To be more popular, she felt batik needed to be innovative in its design and colors—too much batik was frozen in time. “Batik is a tradition, but it doesn’t have to be traditional,” says Lisa, who studied business at the University of New South Wales. “We have to make it a lifestyle.”

    That idea was nearly unthinkable a few years ago, when even traditional batik was unpopular. In 2006, when Lisa opened her first boutique in Jakarta, the initial reaction was discouraging. She uses dazzling multicolor hues, following the color trends out of Milan each year, which leads to Alleira batik have a unique style. Many were uncomfortable with such unorthodox colors and design. “People are reluctant to wear batik as it was considered unfashionable,” recalls Lisa. “It was very important to change that perception.”

    Lisa started operations in her garage with four sewing machines and capital of around Rp 30 million, a loan from her husband. Lisa owns the majority of the company and is the chief executive, while three other shareholders split the remaining shares. Lisa admits her husband wasn’t very supportive at first because he wanted Lisa to put family first, and she had to multitask between being an entrepreneur, wife and a mother. “It’s not easy juggling these roles, but I love what I do and when you love what you do, life is wonderful,” she says.

    The company was initially named Allure Batik. An English name was chosen to stand out from other batik makers, which usually name themselves after their owners, such as Iwan Tirta and Danar Hadi. “We chose Allure because it means something nice and beautiful,” Lisa explains. However, she couldn’t trademark the name outside Indonesia due to its common usage. So in 2011 Lisa relaunched the brand as Alleira, which has now trademarked in countries such as Japan and the U.S.

    The rebranding and trademarking are all steps on the path to a global brand. “We want to be there one day. We never know when, but we want to be there,” she says. She says that soon she may have her batik in one of the world’s fashion capitals: New York. “At the moment we are at the last stage of negotiation with a leading department store in New York which is interested in our shawl collection,” she says.