The number of entrepreneurs who combine local charity and community involvement with doing business in Bali has grown significantly over the past decade. Community involvement brings positive outcomes to the company and, most importantly, the local community in Bali.
This article highlights two of Emerhub Bali’s community members, Christopher Paul and Tamir Oliver Feldmann. Both of them involve charities and communities in Bali as a business method.
Christopher is the director and CEO of Arkana Dua Futures and the jewelry brand, To My Daughter. And, Tamir is the CEO of ecohero world, an export-import business of eco-friendly products.
Below is the short interview transcript with Christopher and Tamir about combining their business with charity and community involvement in Bali.
What inspired the business idea, and what’s the mission?
My business partner is involved in e-commerce work, while I’m the kind of person that can generate business ideas and handle operational management. We were both excited by the idea of creating sentimental jewelry that could have a social impact, and I was very much aware that Bali is a beautiful jewelry production island after having spent many years there. After some successful sales tests still based in Germany, it was decided that I would return to Bali and dive into building the company’s foundations.
To My Daughter is the jewelry brand from the parent company, Arkona Dua Futures. Our mission is to not only celebrate the love between parents and their daughters, but to provide support and education for young Indonesian girls from disadvantaged backgrounds.
I sold my previous business in 2019, and my intuition told me that I should use my time and money to make the world a better and cleaner place. The vision and mission are to cooperate with other human beings who understand the right things to do and live with mother earth in balance.
We aim to change the human mindset to be more peaceful, cooperative and believe that they all can become heroes and protect our environment. We can all be role models and inspire other people to ensure that we and our future generations live in paradise.
Why and how did you choose to support the charities / NGOs in Bali?
We wanted to support young girls in Indonesia because we are very passionate about equality. We started by sponsoring four young girls from North Bali through a partnership with Bali Children Foundation, setting up online and in-class lessons. Then, we went on to take the girls on day trips to large hotels and beach clubs for ‘work exposure’. In addition, we work with Project Child Indonesia to support them for whole classes, and support getting teachers to classrooms further out in remote areas.
We chose to support Solemen because we saw the impact they are making in Bali. We wanted to contribute locally. Also, we decided to support SAMEocean because they share our goal of reducing plastic pollution in nature, and we agree that the ocean is a huge part of it.
What are the products you sell, and who are your customers?
We sell hand-crafted high quality 925 silver and gold-plated jewelry such as necklaces and bracelets. Our products make such a perfect gift for parents to give their daughters. We also sell jewelry for mothers to match with their daughters!
We sell eco-friendly products like straws made of rice, bamboo, and glass. We are constantly sourcing for newer sustainable options, reusable makeup pads, bamboo t-shirts, bamboo cotton buds, coconut bowls, reusable bamboo kitchen towels, and many more. Currently, we have more than 100 products in our catalog.
Our customers are conscious people willing to reduce their consumption and support the change from plastic to more sustainable products. These people understand that our planet is the best and only place to live, and we have to take better care of it. It is not about the illusion that we are separated through countries, cultures, religions. We are all together here on this beautiful planet and we all should take better care of it.
And just to make it clear, plastic is not our enemy. We just need better recycling methods to work with the material and to up-cycle our trash.
How big is your business now?
Besides selling on e-commerce, we just started doing consignment and we are opening up a whole new sales strategy of wholesale across the United States, Australia, and Germany. We have about 50 people for jewelry production, including casting, assembling and polishing, gold plating, lasering, and quality control. We also have creative and research & development teams that help my design lead for jewelry and packaging to life.
We operate internationally with three warehouses in Bali, Germany, and the USA. Currently, we have clients in 9 countries, notably the Marriott group, Cafe del Mar, Pepito, supermarkets in Germany, and numerous e-commerce marketplaces.
We have 12-15 employees. The structure is a flat organization, also known as a horizontal organization. We had a seed investment and are about to commence a bridge investment. In the next 6-12 months, we aim to pitch more investments (A-Series) to collect USD 2 million.
What has been the biggest business failure thus far? And how did you overcome it?
The biggest failure for us would be an initial attention to quality experienced during our first year. This is really a natural lack of jewelry production knowledge, but has been a beautiful learning curve. Most silver sourced in Indonesia is not recycled and refined to a high standard. When you have an excess of oxygen particles within the silver after bad refining, the silver will turn black and tarnish. Hot tip 😉
Besides production, stock management and seasonality were important failures to grow from. It was hard to predict stock levels in the beginning, producing so little that we’d sell out within a few days, then making too many pieces that we’d have tons of boxes laying around for weeks and months.
It all comes down to knowledge. The thing is, you can’t truly know that you understand something until you’ve failed. We’ve failed and learned, then gathered enough data to better forecast. Being predominantly an Ecommerce business many customers buy our jewelry products in the weeks leading up to Christmas. That is why about 80%+ of our revenue is made during Q4.
First, we tried to open an Amazon business account with an Indonesian company that could not provide the required papers, so we got banned from the marketplace.
The second failure was trying to save money and work with an unreliable visa agent, which complicated all our documents and eventually cost us more than what we bargained for.
What are the takeaways to give to starting entrepreneurs doing business in Bali?
Don’t spend too much time trying to perfect everything, it’s much more efficient to just start, and improve along the way. Nobody ever creates or releases something perfectly the first time.
People tend to fear getting started because the idea isn’t perfected or the brand doesn’t look a certain way, and they don’t feel comfortable. It’s that achilles heel of an artist, but you have to break through the barrier and start.
Be open to cooperation and help the local people. Choose the right people and companies to work with. Don’t look for the cheapest option because it might end up costing you more.