Nafiah Arisanti

Nafiah and Nobel edited

Nidia Craft group, Tasikmalaya

Nafiah Arisanti’s relationship with handicrafts began when her neighbours in the close-knit sub-district of Rajapolah asked her to help them find a way to sell their handicrafts. As a stay-at-home mother whose husband was working for the Indonesian Government, Nafiah didn’t need another source of income. She could, however, see that it was needed elsewhere.

“The money was no problem,” says Nafia. “I just wanted to help my neighbours.”

Nafiah already had the skills needed to market products and manage producers, learned through a previous position. What she would need was a partner with enough working capital to get Nidia Craft off the ground, which she found in a close friend.

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Today, Nafiah is able to summon 10 unfixed staff in her area of Kebon Kelapa, four groups of fixed sub-contracted staff and a further 45 unfixed groups based nearby. Permanent staff member Dodo Sugander is responsible for sourcing raw materials to maintain Nidia Craft’s premise of working with 100% natural fibers.

Among the materials Nidia Craft uses are banana skin and leaves, bamboo, water hyacinth, cigres/pandanuse and coconut sticks and leaves from areas including Gombong, Serang and Bandung.

These materials, bought semi-processed but considered raw, are drained, checked for quality and dyed or coloured if necessary before being weaved into hats, coasters, photo frames, mats and shoes. Nafiah is particularly proud of how successful sales of boxes have been, reliant, she says, on the uniquely abstract motifs used.

“I have no favourite, because the designs are changing all the time,” says Nafiah.

Nafiah and Priyo

Nafiah is interested in expanding Nidia Craft, particularly into producing wood products, but what with 9-year-old daughter Nobel, she is afraid of becoming too busy and needing to hire an assistant, whom she may be unable to pay. For now, though, the Nidia Craft story appears to be one of success.