Source: Indonesia Tatler
1.You have been a collector before opening Ahikoza. Why exotic bag in particular?
I have been collecting bags since I was 16 years old actually. Mainly traditional leathers. My love affair with exotic skins started when I was gifted a python foldover clutch by Gucci. It was a beautiful glaze python finish. I was in the awe of the skin and Luxor of the craftsmanship. That paved the path for my passion for exotics, and thus my collection started growing. No two skins are alike and these pieces become value additions to your wardrobe.
2.Can you tell us how you got into fashion? Is it something that you have always interested in?
I’ve always been passionate about fashion, handbags in particular. However I never thought I would be designing one day. It really was my destiny. A heartfelt passion led me to my career path. Designing bags chose me, I wasn’t looking for it. The whole process comes very naturally to me.
3.What inspired you to create Ahikoza?
A passion for handbags, appreciation for craftsmanship and a desire to give customers a collectable piece to they’re wardrobe; most importantly a great experience with the brand. I’ve learnt, people remember the experience far longer than the product. It’s important to uphold that and value your customers. Listen to them, engage and get to know what they’re needs are.
4.Why did you choose exotic skins as the material for your brand?
Exotic skins require a lot of eye for detail and specific craftsmanship. It’s more fragile than traditional leather. The colors, textures are so beautiful. Having said that, as my brand Ahikoza evolves I’m also moving Beyond Exotics and will be working with traditional leathers.
5.Ahikoza also accepts custom made, have you got any special / unique request?
A large part of my business is actually made to order/customizations. Its one of my favorite aspects. I get to have a direct experience with my customers, which I really value and enjoy. I’ve done some incredible bridal pieces. One in particular, was a bespoke Sierra Minaudiere we laced in pearls for Rachel Nathani (as seen in picture). She articulated what she had in mind. I’m so happy we could bring it to life for her. It was crafted to the millimeter, and the result was stunning. Perfect pairing with her Zuhair Murad ensemble on her wedding day.
6.You said in on the phone yesterday that you have noticed a big gap of exotic skin bags in Indonesia. How big is the gap? and how’s the market for exotic bag in particular?
Indonesia is a major player in the exportation of exotic skins. I did however see a gap in quality and artisanal dedication. Indonesia has such beautiful craftsmanship. I really wanted to bright that to light. My artisans are a very important part of my journey. They’re the hands behind the bag. Takes years of learning and perfected craft for craftsmanship. I’m very happy I can give them a international platform, and accreditation for they’re work.
7.How often do you come up with a special collection?
Its not bound by time, honestly. I let process lead me. Inspiration really comes from everywhere! It’s a very intimate process actually. Comes from my travels, architectural installations I admire, friends whose sense of style I like. When it becomes clear in my mind, the design process form ideation to a physical becomes very natural. Over the last two years, I’ve had a few fair few limited edition releases.
8.I have read that Ahikoza is also inspired by installations and architectures, why both of them?
Anywhere I find symmetrical and geometrical inspiration to bring my bags to life.
9.How long does it take to create an each bag
Each bag is handcrafted to the millimeter. Takes artisan and specialist attention. Each minaudiere takes about 4 to 5 weeks to complete.
10.You named your collection after your friends and you also co-designed the bags. What is it about the colloboration and how did you come up with an idea?
My whole product line is named after my close friends actually! They have been such a big part of my journey and people I interact with closely. I get inspired by the women they are, values they represent and their personal sense of style. My ‘muses’. Ive had the pleasure of Co designing bags with them. To name a few – Carol Kumala, Juliana Kumala and Rachel Nathani. Each of them are such strong women in their own right. I sat down with the girls to get real understanding of what they’re ideal bag would be. This gave life to the actual product and end result.
11.What’s your most favorite Ahikoza bag? And what kind of looks fit for the bag?
My favorite Ahikoza bag has to be the Madison Minaudiere. It’s my signature design. It’s crafted so beautifully, and fits all occasions- day to night! It’s a red carpet regular, and still my most coveted design.
12.Would you mind to share your tips on how to take care leather goods, particularly bag?
Absolutely. Allow the bag to fully dry in a cool, dim setting (avoid sunlight or harsh lighting conditions). When cleaning, do not attempt speed drying with heat applicators (blow-dryers etc.) because it will dry out the skin, causing the scales to uplift quicker. Store properly in a dustbag and stuffing to ensure the shape preserves as well, and also to avoid dust particles and stains
13.Ahikoza has adorned many Hollywood and Bollywood red carpets. How does it feel for you?
It’s very humbling. You never take these moments for granted. There is no ordinary moment. Celebrities have access to every leading brand. To have Ahikoza amongst that pool is amazing. I have had the honor to work with some leading industry stylists and names. I value my time with each one of them. On or off the red carpet, I love seeing women carry my creations. It comes down to one key ingredient- a quality product with a strong brand DNA. Ahikoza stands tall on that.
14.For the ladies who Co Designed, your muses – how does it feel to be an ‘Ahikoza girl’ What did you want to bring to life when co designing your namesake bag?
Will let the muses themselves take the mike on this one.
“To me, it feels empowering to be part of the Ahikoza army. When I co-designed the Carolina bucket bag, Namrata and I wanted to express a casual, convenient and chic look which steered away from her initial formal bags. We wanted to create a bag that would carry all of your essentials with the “toss-it-in” ease of a tote but in a more tidy, chic style. Incorporating comfort and trend into the bucket bag were our main components.”
“To be an ahikoza girl is to be bold, to be strong and to be independent. The ahikoza girl, to me, says the #futureisfemale and we are here to take charge.
With the Rachel clutch, Namrata and I wanted to bring to life the ease of transitioning between work and pleasure. It brings to life our vision of creating independence in every piece”
“It feels great to be an Ahikoza girl! When I Co Designed the Juliana Minaudière with Namrata, I wanted something luxurious but still relaxed. I especially love the cobra trim detail. It is still my go to clutch”
15.What are your tips for those (younger generation) who want to follow your footsteps to success? Could you share your secret sauce?
I have a long way to go. This is just the beginning honestly. I can share a few lessons and tips I’ve learnt thus far in my journey though. It’s important to really do your research and spend time on what your brand DNA is. What sets your product apart? What are you trying to communicate? Really get clear on this before launching, even if it takes a little longer. Most importantly, stay humble. Don’t get an ego and get caught up in the game. Fashion is an extremely fast paced industry. To ensure you have a strong foothold, its important to stay grounded and soft. Be professional and gracious. Focus on a quality product and the fundamental values of the brand. With hard work and dedication, the rest will organically take place.