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Riris Simanjuntak

Artisan Organization: Riris Simanjuntak

Country: Bali and Java

"When I was five years old, my father bought a world map for me. That is the moment I believed I would one day go around the world. My brothers and my sisters called me a crazy dreamer. But my father always believed in my dream even when it seemed impossible to achieve.

"My mother is from Jogjakarta and is a descendant of Sultan Hamengkubuwono, the third king of Jogjakarta. She is gentle, friendly and has a soft personality. My father is from Sumatra island and is a member of the Batak clan. As a nomad, he needed a strong and bold character to survive. Their two different personalities complete me, I believe, and I have a soft but strong personality.

"I was born and raised in Jogjakarta on the island of Java. It is the center of Javanese arts and culture with many universities and schools. Unlike the rest of Indonesia, the city was governed independently by a traditional Sultanate. I grew up in an environment of diversity, and live with Javanese, Batak, Chinese-Indonesia people, and Borneo clans.

"Jogyakarta keeps the spirit in perfect balance and harmony. Everything about the natural world is beautiful here — the soil, the water and the air.

"We are not rich. My father is a teacher. He has six children and we need to share everything. He believes that education is the most important thing for his children. God blessed him so that all of us are hardworking and won scholarships so we could all graduate from the university.

"After receiving a degree in economics and accounting, I took a job for the next twelve years. Then I added 'entrepreneur' to my list of dreams and, in 2012, I started working for myself.

"I have a small artisan workshop and we recycle discarded materials like old newspapers or magazines. Some materials are easy to find and some are difficult, and that contributes to making a balance in my life. It is good for the environment, for sure.

"We encourage our artisans to develop their own lives. From the beginning, we've practiced the ten principles of fair trade. We also make sure that the artisan receives a fair payment. Mixing eco-green and fair trade concepts is my passion.

"I am married with two sons. Delivering a baby is a life and death moment, and that was the moment for me to learn more about God because the power it his, not ours. My children motivate me to be a better person every single day. I'm making sure that I create the best version of me so my children can see this and feel proud.""