Your Name: Nadya Saib
Business Name: Wangsa Jelita, a maker of natural personal care products
Type of Business: Health & Beauty
Business Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
Reason for starting: The fact that there is no pharmaceutical regulation of the word ‘natural’ encouraged me and my friends to create something that embodies the true concept of natural. Back in 2008, three of us, all pharmacists by training, started ‘Wangsa Jelita’ –which literally means the Beautiful Dynasty. We carefully choose ‘only good’ ingredients that we want to put in our formulation of personal care products. Not only did we eliminate those ingredients that don’t benefit the skin, we also pick the best processing in making our products. Our soaps, for instance, are ‘cold processed’, which take about a month. In retrospect, it was kind of a hobby investment at first – something that we enjoyed doing, something that we were excited about. But then along the way, we met local farmers in our country, and we were inspired to expand Wangsa Jelita into something that would be worth the investment of our ideals about what a ‘business’ should be. The spirit of introducing and producing truly natural personal care products remains the same, but the way we conduct our business has evolved – from a traditional profit maximizing business to a social enterprise that empowers local communities.
How do you define success? There’s a saying that ‘success is a journey, not a destination’ – I couldn’t agree more. The definition of success is so dynamic that even when we see ourselves as successful for the time being, we may not think the same way after a while. I see success as a continuous journey where we keep moving, learning, and more importantly, improving. However, though success is the journey, I’m not saying that ‘the destination’ is dispensable. I disagree when one interprets success as being able to ‘go with the flow’ (I suppose only dead fish go with the flow). What I’m suggesting is that while it is essential to know where the destination is, it’s more important to be present and keep our focus on our way to get there. So, say, you come out as a better person than you were, though you haven’t reached the destination yet, then I’ll congratulate you for your little success, which, hopefully, can motivate you to reach the next.
Biggest Success: I think our biggest success so far was being able to change the core of our business to a social enterprise. We learned about the huge potential of this company to benefit society, and we took a leap of faith in taking a bold first step. I really hope Wangsa Jelita can be one of the leading social enterprises globally. I don’t think we have yet reached the destination we have set–it’s still a long way to go, I think. But I believe that we’re on the right track.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? The top challenge, I think, was (and still is) contending with my own assumptions in developing the business. I learned that even though I understand product formulation, meaning which ingredients are good and which are not – that doesn’t matter much if I can’t discover what my customers really want. I found that finding a synthesis between the company’s vision and what my customers want is a very interesting task, yet challenging for me. One of things that I try to maintain since I learned that is to go back to my team to figure out a better way to grow the business. I haven’t found a better way to do it yet, but I can see that this approach has made a big difference to me and my team, particularly in our way to serve our customers.
Who is your most important role model? There are many people in my life who have influenced me greatly, and each of them has an element I try to emulate – my compassionate mom does things wholeheartedly, my thoughtful dad encourages me to stay reasonable, and my adorable nephews have big BIG curiosity (that, to be frank, sometimes drives me crazy). But if I was asked the figure that I look up to as one individual I would say it’s the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). I have recently become more interested in learning about him, and I found an interesting paradox: the more I read about him, the more I feel (regretfully) how little I know him, therefore the more I want to know him. He is, indeed, my most important role model.
Edited by The Story Exchange
Posted: December 9, 2013
If you're a woman business owner, share your startup story through our 1,000 Stories project and be featured on our site.