A calm, serene, home-body who gets itsy-bitsy bop of energy, Sonia Eryka, (tries) to sit down with us to talk about her homecoming to herself, her fashion brand, and her views on politics and fashion.
What brings you to Bali this time?
It was very spontaneous. I was quarantined for 8 months in Jakarta and I was always in my room most of the time. So, one day, I started to feel the stress taking over my body and I decided to hop on the plane!
Is it for a holiday?
Ya. I was planning to stay here for a month – staying at a villa, looking over the beach, and soaking the sea water. But, I’ve only been to the beach three times here.
Been seeing you rollerskating and making homemade jam, do you think it’s somehow kind of like… discovery or re-discovery?
Discovery. Because I haven’t learned something new in such a long time. I was thinking of what kind of sport I could do alone. So I tried skateboard and learned from so many youtube videos; the worst fall and how to fall. I’m very spontaneous but I also very careful. I was squatting on the board for 4 days until I got the courage to stand up! Here, I go to Amplitude or Pantai Jerman in Denpasar where they have a big court for me to skate.
How do you see yourself coming and coming back to things lately?
There’s not much change actually. I’m a home person after all. But, somehow the surrounding energy hasn’t been so good. What I heard and what I saw was another piece of news about the pandemic, so I tried to make a balance at home. Then I moved here!
From a fashion blogger, writer, photographer, now brand-owner – how would you describe yourself?
I am an… experimentalist? I have so many hobbies and I want to seek many experiences. I want to experience different lives in this one life that I have. Sounds greedy? Hahahaha but you know, having experience of this and that to know what I like and what I don’t like.
Have you ever “felt trapped” as being an “Influencer”?
Many times. Especially in Jakarta. I felt drained and burned out seeing the circle around me that I couldn’t fit in. Somehow, I was not as passionate as them in managing this social media and the whole persona. I asked myself and then I knew that being an influencer is not what I really want. So, I was adjusting. That’s just life, it always needs adjustments.
Btw, I love how you speak out loud on both fashion and politics, on social media. It seems that not many “fashion people” talk about what’s actually going on. How do you see fashion and politics?
I think fashion and politics relate so much to each other. But, those who work in fashion industry have the tendency to separate them from politics. For me, it takes privilege to separate yourself from such fundamental issue. Politics is fundamental and it’s about people no matter which social status you are. While, fashion on the other hand is a secondary need. I think it’d be wiser that in anything that we do, we care about politics. It’s about our lives. It’s not just about choosing a president, but it’s about choosing how the lives of many people would be affected. Sadly, the impact is so strong on those from lower social status and so low on the fashion industry. My father is a lawyer, so I was raised by explanations and questions. There’s always why and how; from protest, labour workers, and environment. Just trying not to be ignorant.
Could you tell us the journey until Kasmaran was born?
It was from having the burn out from social media. Then I asked myself what I really love to do. I remember my first blog post was about Batik Lasem. I was visiting this batik workshop in a little town called Lasem. From the artisans there, I learned how Batik Lasem is a blend of Javanese and Chinese culture – the patterns, the color, the story. As a Chinese-Indonesian, that was one the moments I felt accepted. Amongst the clash and the racism I have experienced, I found myself in the pieces of batik. That’s why I make Kasmaran. Kasmaran means falling in love and I fall in love with Batik, with my own identity.
Any dreams you’re pondering on now?
I have so many dreams. But maybe they’re not something concrete. My dream is to be happy and to find my Ikigai. My reason to live. One of them is by working on Kasmaran. Through Kasmaran, I could find myself, I could help others – lift the artisans work so that they will be noticed worldwide. It’s a self-contentment.
Three foods and three things, you’d recommend to people about Bali?
Oh hahaha I think I’d sound very touristy here. Babi Guling! That’s such a tourist of me. Bebek Goreng. Oh, last one… Klepon Gianyar! The stray dogs on the beach, the sound of crickets, and kelapa muda (green coconuts). I love kelapa muda!
Last, must-do-in Bali! (whatever – anything – preferably, something personal!)
Doing nothing, drink-beer at the beach. Bengong with beer. It’s hard to do it somewhere else.
Sonia Eryka Of Kasmaran written by Prinka Saraswati photos by Valed Edgina