Originally published in Registry Indonesia, Sept-Oct 2017 edition.
Photos: Rudi Wicaksono
Marlienna Suwito had never planned to breed bird’s nests. Seeing the movements of a flock of swallows flying in her husband’s oil palm plantation in Pontianak, West Kalimantan later changed the course of her destiny.
In this wilderness part of Pontianak, she in 2006 set up a swallow house, and it has ever since drawn the birds to roost. “It took me a year to build the house. Drawing swallows to roost into a building is very unpredictable. I believe that everything comes from nature, and with God’s permission I can grow my bird’s nest business,” says Marlienna, who is also known by her nickname Nana.
She further says that the wilderness area in West Kalimantan is suitable for breeding bird’s nests. In 2015, she built the second house, which is bigger with more nest production capacity. “Currently, I can produce around 120kg of bird’s nests each month. The business has captured both domestic and international markets, including exporting to the U.S., Hong Kong and Mainland China,” she says.
As the business has flourished, she in 2016 started to branch out the business. Not only breeding the nests, but she also produces healthy drink made from the nest’s concentration.
The healthy drink boasts two brands: 7 Stars Bird’s Nest and Heavenly Nest, for export and domestic markets, respectively. The 7 Stars brand is the premium concentrated bird’s nest that comes with different variants, such as with sugar, less sugar and no sugar, as well as the new one with honey.
Products under the 7 Stars Bird’s Nest brand are ready-to-drink and have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S., and passed the inspection of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). She says the natural processing, which doesn’t contain chemical and artificial colour, is what led to the approval of these both reputable agencies.
The Heavenly Nest is the second line brand, which is also presented as in ready-to-drink bottling package. The products under the second line brand are not the FDA approved, but contain the same quality as the premium ones. This way, her bird’s nest products can reach to not only wealthy individuals, but also those from the middle-class segment. As of today, her bird’s nest products are available from Aceh to Papua.
In addition to her network, Marlienna uses social media, such as Instagram and Facebook, to market her products. These social media platforms display testimonials that also reflect how words of mouth play a successful marketing strategy in winning the public trust of her bird’s nest products.
Consuming bird’s nest concentration gives many advantages to humankind, she says. “Among others are as an anti-aging nutrient and immune system booster, as well as maintaining and enhancing human’s overall health.”
Bird’s nest concentration is also synonymous to beauty drink. “Throughout the history, swallow’s nest is known for its powerful benefits to human skin. The high level of anti-oxidant contained in the drink contributes to the great improvement of skin health,” says Marlienna, who was crowned as Miss Indonesia representing Lampung in 2002 and Miss Lampung in 2002.
Providing such healthy and natural product as bird’s nest relates with Marlienna’s philosophy highlighting her belief that body and mind are integral.
Her assertion of nature becomes the foundation of not only her bird’s nest business but also her involvement in various social activities. Body and mind are crucial in manifesting one’s action and behaviour. “Both constitute the essential element of nature in which life has to offer. We need to have the balance between our body and mind. Life is about balance,” she asserts.
Her academic background seems to influence her role in social contribution. Currently taking Master of Psychology degree program at Atma Jaya Catholic University, she is a licensed business master practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programme, Orlando, U.S. As an active practitioner of psychological assessment and intervention, she often conducts counselling and hypnosis sessions for self-development purposes, as well as seminar and workshop on parenting and family issues.
The mother of two is also currently serving as volunteer and ambassador at Focus on the Family Indonesia, an international foundation established to empower families across the archipelago. Another worth to note is her role in empowering inmates at Woman and Youth Detention Centre, Tangerang.
“Each of these inmates has her own strength. My conscience led me to share my blessings with them. They need to be empowered, so they can be economically independent and positively contribute to the society after serving their sentences at the detention centre,” Marlienna remarks.
Asked what her long-term goal, she confidently says, “I would like to share more of my blessings with the public, and have my bird’s nest concentration products become more affordable among most Indonesians.”
To reach a wider public, Marlienna recently launched a new lounge in BSD area. The lounge boasts a concept that blends office and store functions in BSD area. And another store will be opened in Plaza Indonesia in 2018.
In the near future, as she concludes the interview, she will include skin care products from bird’s nest, such as mask and serum. “We’re currently developing the plan. Right now, however, my focus is on bird’s nest concentration products.”