Why is CEW membership important to you?
The membership is important because it is one of the few communities that connects people in our industry together from the brand and marketing side, vs the supplier/producer side of things. CEW’s collective knowledge from thought leaders within the network and supportive sharing through event enables us, as business owners, to stay on top of an industry which is evolving faster than ever. It’s like having high quality, thought provoking “insider information” and resources that enables us to improve our businesses to stay ahead, be nimbler and offer higher value experience to customers, partners, and community.
What do you feel is the most important quality for someone to possess in order you have a successful career?
Grit, Resilience, and Adaptability. This might be the 4th business model JUARA has pivoted to with Covid since our start in 2006. I’ve had more doors shut in my face in the beginning than I can remember, with JUARA being rejected for being too “exotic,” but we didn’t give up. Eventually we got into over 300 independent doors by our 2nd or 3rd year by pure cold-calling and door-to-door hustle, only to have more than ½ go out of business in 2009, followed by frequent cashflow panic as the recession dragged on for years. My business partners and I huddled and discussed whether we should just give up, but because we knew our products really did help people and we wanted to continue working together as a team, we persevered until things picked up again. Regarding adaptability, staying sharp in hard skills is also important – being digitally literate in the relevant software for any job now is a must, as well as being a good listener and an effective communicator. With more integration between departments and work being done virtually, there are more moving parts in general and therefore more opportunities for confusion and miscommunication. You want to be the one who helps solve those problems and reduce potential frictions, not add to them.
Do you have any career regrets or something you wish you would have done differently? If so, what and how did you learn from it?
When we started, we didn’t have much of a support system. I didn’t come from the beauty industry but was in retail. I wish I had the courage to reach out for help earlier on and didn’t feel like we had to do everything ourselves. Even CEW felt to “big” for fledgling brands like us, even though we had respectable distribution from the start. I think the current ecosystem has space for many young entrepreneurs and there is an active investor scene and willing mentors making networking is easier. In any new projects I start now, I definitely think about collaborations from the start more than I used to.
In which ways has the events surrounding Covid-19 affected your company and your day-to-day role?
It’s affected it a lot. The first thing we did was cut to the core of WHY are we in business, and how do help others and deliver value that makes people’s lives better? Once we answer that, everything falls into place. We shifted from identifying as a skincare company selling products inspired by Jamu, the ancient Indonesian botanical tradition focused on self-care by nourishing bodies and minds, to identifying as a wellness company that, true to Jamu’s DNA, goes beyond skincare to promote self-care. This small shift triggered a whole content strategy to focus on community building by addressing things of concern in Covid times beyond just talking about products. You can see this in our JUARA Wellness Webinar series, where we’ve completed a whole season and now doing a snack-sized IGTV Self-Care series to connect with content creators and share wellness advice & tips to our audience. The immediate day to day change is I’m much more in communication with my teams in NY and Indonesia to stay coordinated through a transformation to adapt with changing times. I’m also much more analytical in looking at our audience is since we’re now 100% digital (vs in-person), while connecting with more peers to collaborate for our webinars, which has allowed us to grow on our direct channel despite other Covid-19 triggered distribution challenges.