Sometimes ago, the group at SUB went out for a road trip outside town to visit the people from creative brand U&KL (also a bit of relaxation for the team). We visited their warehouse where they keep most of their products there, to take a look around while have the chit chat/interview with Eddi Brokoli and Arifin Windarman also known as Ippin.
When did you guys start all this?
I: It first started in 2008, and got even more serious from 2009-2010 where it’s when we were starting to get bored of clothing. Cause we’re basically a design house, although the core of 347’s business is (actually) clothing. We basically did everything; housing, interiors, products, publishing and everything else in between.
E: The only thing we haven’t done is probably prostitution *both laughs*. You could say it’s a growing up process from 347. It’s no longer a sub-division that we created but the “head”, so U&KL is now the head of every sub-division from our 17 year long journey.
I: We think more lateral, not linear all the time.
E: It does start with interior first.
Why interior? You could choose to do anything, like create musical instruments if you wanted
I: That’s where the base of our knowledge lies. Behind all that, the four of us are just doing something that we like. People make something out of demand, we do the opposite; we create something and see if the market likes it. Then again, people stopped creating when there’s no order. You know, just based on “just being happy”. Not that they’re not being serious, but you can’t be halfway when it comes to doing these kinds of things, my lecturer told me to think outside the box.
E: Based on experience to create, back then if people wanted to buy clothing with good cutting they have to go to Billabong and stores similar to that. That’s the reason we wanted to create. You start getting older, having your own place to live and wanting to decorate your house. But like I said. . .if people wanted to purchase great furniture with a decent price they have to go to IKEA, and that’s more expenses. So we created an interior line that we want with affordable prices but the same good quality.
What’s the reason you guys decided to dive into housing projects?
I: There’s so many parameter factor, one of them being age. One of the reasons we went into the housing business is people our age, a few percent of them wanted to own their own house but couldn’t afford it yet. So we created a bridge for this problem. We did everything (create the house and furnished it) so people can just move in and bring their clothes. A lot of people are afraid to make this step, but we showed them that it’s actually doable.
E: We help by making the design exactly the way you like it.
You’re going to sell the furniture retail; will it be massive IKEA style?
I: That’s the dream. Maybe not that massive but we’re trying to create a bigger industry that also does export. We’re a micro company that’s trying to spread our business locally before spreading our wings abroad. Japan is one market that we’d like to try. Europe is in progress, so is with London and Berlin.
Why do you think people tend to underestimate our industry?
I: One of our weaknesses is in the infrastructure itself; if we only talk about local business then the infrastructure is stuck there. I learned from that. Luckily we started small so the pricing isn’t so bad. No need to think about the big stuff, 15% – 20% is enough . . for now.
What do you think is the buying power of this?
I: I first sold a dining set complete with a table and four chairs for IDR 1.6 million and (other designers) protested that it’s too cheap. The set sold out within a week, turns out it really is too cheap. I did an exhibition and people actually thought we put the price by mistake, but we sold the set separately now. One of the weakness of (interior) designers is they can create but unable to sell their products.
E: He’s speaking as a designer, but the company is just selling products. So the function of the product is what we’re actually selling, according to its function. Maybe in the future there will be differentiation of products. For example, the same designers will release signature products.
What’s the most expensive product that you have?
E: Our kitchen set, and that’s not even expensive. People can buy the kitchen set complete with stove for IDR 9 million more or less. So far that’s the most expensive thing we have.
I: You can also change the table top with wood or granite, depends on the buyers choice. At the moment we’re trying to make one using concrete.
Where can people go to buy your products?
E: The warehouse is now our showroom.
I: Most of the things here are mostly already sold. It’s still here because we don’t have the time to send it yet *both laughs*
E: We’d love to make a sale event, but how can we do that when there’s no products to sell?
What’s your hot selling product?
I: Our lounge chair, dining chair with new designs, there are also lots from last season’s products. There is this newest thing, this one artist will be making. . .a fridge.
I: They will be refurbishing old refrigerator by changing the machine with a new one and revamp the inside. This place is to accommodate young and upcoming designers who have no place to showcase their products. Well, Sir Dandy still put his signature shelf with us.
E: We don’t want the word “gallery” we just wanted to be a store. In the future we hope to have a ready-stock store, so people won’t come in just to look around like in a showroom.
I: We’re also learning how to sell right now.
E: Hopefully in the future things will be better.
You guys are big though now
I: You said it, we didn’t *both laugh out loud*
Come on, don’t be shy, you can be honest with us. .
I: (smiles) Well. . .we like the word leading.
E: We just wanted to keep on designing; it’s not just about selling products.
What is this vision from U&KL about their success in management that made you guys last for 17 years?
I: Looks smooth on the outside, not on the inside. We keep on trying to find the right pattern that suits this company’s needs. The four of us still fight at least once a week.
E: Yeah, we break each others’ legs
I: The point is “whatever people say about us, we never overreact” if people talk shit about us, we don’t mind. If people say good things about us then we’re naturally happy.
E: It’s kind of like a band. A band that lasts for years. One person needs to be the frontman, someone who deals with most of the interviews alone and no one would mind or feel left out, while some are the people who’s always behind the scene. We’re then band that lasts 17 years.
No hard feelings when people talk about you?
E: Cause they still love what they do, more than the pain of being talked about by someone. That’s why.
Any last message for Sub-Cult’s readers?
I: Be an entrepreneur is not as hard as you think. It’s a cliché but you got to leave your comfort zone, so when you fail see it as another lesson for you.
E: You beat me to it. I wanted to say that.
I: Our pleasure is well accommodated with what we do.
E: Compromise is necessary. You don’t need to be idealistic all the time.
You have a word of wisdom you’d like to share?
E: This isn’t originally from me but I’ve always liked the saying “make more mistakes so you can move forward. Don’t be afraid.”
To see more of their product click here
Interview by Vita Aviandhono