Yulia the batik woman was introduced to me by my sister two years ago. Her mother is a senior batik artisan from Palangkaraya who grew up amongst economic problems. As her family could not only rely on making batik, she had to find different ways. At one point she even had to pull out of ‘the world’s longest batik’ contest.
When Yulia grew up, her main wish was to create a batik-makers community in Palangkaraya. Despite the several challenges she faced in order to realize her dream, including borrowing money from an Indonesian Bank so she could buy tools and raw material, she finally founded the “Komunitas Pecinta Benang Bintik” – ‘Batik Lovers Community’.
Palangkaraya’s batik lovers joined the group and Yulia’s mission to promote the cultural heritage of batik making in Central Kalimantan went as far as making clothes using batik’s fabric and let the locals borrow them for free.
One of Yulia’s main ordeal was to find customers who would be prepared to pay money for her batiks. She went through months without a single product being sold, and struggled to repay the bank loan. However, Yulia’s spirit was strong and she managed to put a great idea into practice: open the batik making workshop to the public and charge to visitors who want to learn the technique of batik-making in Central Kalimantan. This was the key of her turning point: one by one, customers started pouring in.
I love Yulia’s talented batik art, and I can assure you not all Dayak people can make batiks like hers. I enjoy supporting and financing a small business like this, one that can empower local people and uphold local Dayak products and arts in Central Kalimantan, which is almost extinct in the modern era. Yulia has such a tremendous potential which in my opinion cannot go wasted.
Once we decided to include Yulia batik making school in our tour, we made an effort of marketing this activity. My clients are so happy with the time they spend with Yulia the batik woman, and her batik learning center has become one of the main things that tourists can do in Palangkaraya.