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Susan Hu talks to Holy Indradjaja, country manager for PT Aqueo, the exclusive distributors for Havaianas and Seafolly in Indonesia. Photo: Spencer Hansen.

CAN you tell us a bit about your background?
I’m originally from Jakarta, but when I was 16 I moved to the U.S. and lived in L.A. for 10 years. I first came to Bali in 2007 as I was in need of a new start, so I’ve been here for the past eight years working in retail and fashion. Bali has grown on me.

Holy is a fantastic name. Is there a story behind it?
I was born on a holy day within a holy month in the Buddhist religion, so my father thought it was a fitting name.

Do you remember your first pair of Havaianas . . . colour? style?
Hmm, my first pair was a slim basic black. I wore these in the transition from my previous job where I was a bit more corporate. Now I experiment more with colour and enjoy wearing some of the fun brighter pairs and prints.

How did you get involved with Havaianas?
I had always followed the brand since it really started taking off in Indonesia a few years back, and I was working for a fashion retailer in Bali when I, by chance, ran into the general manager who was looking for someone in the Bali office. That meeting turned into a job opportunity so I was very lucky as it was the perfect chance to take it on at a time of huge growth in 2011.

A day in the life of Holy Indradjaja?
I lead a fairly busy life. Being a single mom of a nine-year-old boy, my day consists of getting up and dragging him out of bed and off to school. Then it’s into the office for the day, visits to our stores, then back home for homework and dinner before I can escape to the gym for some “me time” after 8pm. It’s always a juggle between my work and personal life.

What is your philosophy on work and life in general?
Something my father once said to me was: “Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, changed and rearranged to relocate us to the place we’re meant to be”.

The Havaianas brand is over 50 years old and still going strong. In your opinion, what’s the secret to the success?
The Havaianas brand stays true to its image globally. The head office in Brazil is very hands-on with the style guidelines and the image overall through their distribution network, as well as the consistency of the product, so I believe this has helped. They are a simple product, but with quality rubber and a range of colours and prints to reach a wide audience. And this has turned the sandals into a must-have fashion icon that stays in people’s minds. We are also very lucky to have such loyal, passionate followers of the brand.

Currently, fans of Havaianas can pick up sweet sandals in select stores in Jakarta and Bali. Do you have plans to expand into other parts of Indonesia?
Yes, we are starting to expand the business in Medan and have just opened a small Havaianas store there, and shortly we will be in Surabaya as well. We currently have seven of our Universo retail outlets in Bali, and three in Jakarta, with plans to increase our locations in Jakarta as well in 2014.

Are there any hot new trends in the world of sandals we should know about?
The biggest trend we have seen is customisation – personalising your pairs and having a unique style that is different from anyone else. This is very popular. We now offer our “Make Your Own Havaianas” at more stores in response to this trend. Globally we are also seeing a lot of collaborations with well-known fashion designers and more stylish offerings in the world of sandals. They are really moving from a household item to a hot fashion item – with additional crystals, jewels and adornments to create a more premium sandal. We also recently collaborated with Swarovski in Jakarta and have had a huge response to sandals with
“bling”, so this trend is growing too.

Can you describe your current favourite pair of Havaianas?
My favourite pair is Slim Season Grey – it’s a pretty floral print on a staple silver metallic pair . . . good for all types of occasions.

Any fashion advice or tips from the country manager of a fashion icon?
Simplicity is my advice. Keep it simple and find your own point of difference. Add a splash of colour here or there or a bit of unique style, but don’t overdo it. That’s my theory.

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