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Ayu Wardhani

Artisan Organization: Ayu Wardhani

Country: Bali and Java

"I was born and raised in Makassar, South Sulawesi. I'm the second of four children, with one sister and two brothers. My parents have been divorced since I was five years old. I never imagined this would happen to me, that I'd grow up with only with one parent and never know how it feels to have a father.

"My mom is the only parent I really know personally. Being a single parent, I am sure it's not easy for her to raise three kids by herself, and our situation made her very strict and disciplined in facing the life. She worked hard day and night just to be able to feed us. She made her children from zero to heroes. I still remember my childhood and the long and winding path we've taken. I'm so proud to have a mother like her. She inspires me to be a strong person who faces and treats this life wisely, and I will be just like her when I become a mother one day.

"Makassar is well known as trading city. Many ethnicities live in harmony there, and the Chinese immigrants along with local people work together in the area's economy. Many historical colonial places can be found in Makassar — for example, the Dutch castle and beautiful Losari beach. There is also a unique tradition in South Sulawesi in which the dead are embalmed and kept at home so the family continues to live together with them.

"I am single but am in serious relationship and plan to marry. My mother always taught me not to depend on anything or anyone. You must chase your own dream and work on it. Stand on your own feet and pray for blessings for every step you take. So far, I've always applied that advice in my life and it always leads me to find the better way.

"I love art and I like to create something unique. That's why each of my designs has a touch of art all its own. Every material comes from a different source and these unique materials stimulate my imagination to start drawing. Like painting, I draw the design that pops up into my head and put it on paper.

"Each design — like a bracelet or bag — is sewn exclusively by an individual artisan. I give the design to the artisan who is dedicated to working hard for a better life.

"I find that sitting down and talking with the artisans personally is better than chatting with my friends via gadgets. I believe each artisan has his or her own art, soul and skills. As a designer, each step of the crafting process is under my supervision so, in the end, everything can be done as planned and quality always controlled.

"I use genuine cow, sheep and goat leather, and use manual sewing tools to work with. I like leather and at the moment, my art it is all about leather. My goal is to introduce my Indonesian leather designs to the world, because many shoppers have told they don't see many design motifs like mine outside Indonesia. They're pretty unique.

"I know Novica from browsing the Internet. So many handmade designs interested me. I found something different that I had never see before when reading each Novica artisan profile and the stories behind the art. I hope Novica can help to introduce our art worldwide and help local artisans in their efforts for a better life.""