Businesswoman Yolanda Novianto believes in the power of a positive attitude.
Optimism can lead to a strong determination to move forward but, without confidence, it would be hard for a business to win over the market, according to Yolanda Novianto, partner and business owner of Alleira Group.
The name Alleira is synonymous with batik. However, in addition to carrying Alleira as a premium batik fashion retail brand, the group has two other divisions: May & June, for women’s maxi dresses; and Island Shop for beachwear and casual wear.
The group owns franchises of this Singaporean brand, which carries various collections of beachwear and casual clothes and accessories, mainly for women, though there are quite a few for men.
Island Shop first came to Jakarta in June 2012, with the opening of its first and thus far only standalone outlet in Pondok Indah Mall 2. In addition, the company has successfully retailed the brand’s products at Metro department stores in Metro Pondok Indah and Plaza Senayan, as well as at Centro in Discovery Mall, Bali.
Yolanda is taking the lead in overseeing the daily operations for Island Shop, with a team of around 30, from area and branch managers to logistics and marketing staff.
“The brand has built its reputation since its beginnings in the 1980s. With Indonesia’s big cities experiencing a fashion evolution, the market needs more product diversification. Beach and casual wear are starting to be the ‘in’ thing here in Indonesia,” she said, when asked about the reason behind franchising the foreign brand.
“The products of Island Shop are perhaps new for some Indonesians. My team is optimistic in marketing the products, but we also need high business confidence to develop a market penetration strategy,” she added.
In addition to helming Island Shop, Yolanda also runs SushiTime, a Japanese restaurant chain. She is responsible for creating and executing the concept, as well as managing the operation of the outlets.
In running both Island Shop and SushiTime, she always holds the belief that treating everyone in the company as equals will lead to favorable business outcomes. “I can’t work alone, without the help of others. Despite different hierarchical positions, it is important that a business leader treat everyone in the company as equal. I regard all my employees as partners. It’s an efficient strategy to instill a sense of respect for each other, paving the way for building a solid team.”
Nevertheless, a solid team, despite being one of the most crucial business elements, is not enough to drive a company to move forward. “You have to have optimistic teamwork. Optimism is the engine to propel your business. But the business may not run well without having high confidence,” Yolanda reiterated.
She is now more focused on running Island Shop. The food and beverage business, especially Japanese restaurants, has already gained popularity among many cosmopolitans. The bohemian style with an urban twist featured by the Island Shop brand is something new for many cosmopolitans in Jakarta. However, she is optimistic about the future of her business.
“The business has been in operation for one-and-a-half years, and there are already four outlets, three in Jakarta and one in Bali. And Surabaya is on the map for our future plans. With my business confidence, I will strive to achieve the target of having more outlets opened in major cities across Indonesia by 2019,” she said, when asked where she would like to see her businesses in the next five years.
Leading two businesses and being a mother surely requires good management, and Yolanda seems able to achieve this. What matters most, she believes, “is persistence with what you are doing. There are always challenges and also opportunities in business and life. You can aim high, but don’t be a dreamer. Be optimistic, as that will lead to being confident. Once you are there, you will be ready to turn all the challenges into opportunities”.
Partner and business owner of Alleira Group (2006 to present) and co-founder and business owner of SushiTime (2012 to present). Her previous positions included a role as a system analyst at Northstar Pacific Capital private equity firm from 2006 to 2008. While she was in Australia, she was general manager at Indigo Pty. Ltd., a medium-size jewelry retailer, from 2005 to 2006.
Holds a Bachelor of Information Systems and an Advanced Diploma of Business Information Technology, from Monash University in 2004 and RMIT University in 2002 respectively, both of which are in Melbourne.
Family and Leisure
I like to spend my spare time with my friends and family. My husband Steven and I enjoy taking our five-year-old son Nathaniel to different places, especially Kidzania in Pacific Place. It’s a fun and educational place for kids.
Japanese food is on the top of the list of my favorite cuisines, followed by Korean and Indonesian. As for local fare, nothing can beat Surabaya food, especially bebek goreng (fried duck).
Among the travel destinations I have visited, Shanghai and Guangzhou impressed me because of the presence of historical buildings. But Surabaya and Melbourne are my favorite destinations. I have a crystal clear reason for this. My family, including my parents and siblings, live in Melbourne, and Surabaya is where I was born and raised.
Words n photos: Aulia R. Sungkar. Published in The Jakarta Post on March 15, 2014.