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Tuniyaton

Artisan Organization: Tuniyaton

Country: Indonesia

"I was born on December 31, 1966 in Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta, but I never got to know my father. He passed away when I was born and my mother did her best to raise me and my siblings on her own. I only went to elementary school, that's as much as she could afford. My older brother convinced me to go with him when he moved to another city, promising me the opportunity to go to school there but that didn't happen. Plus, somehow my school diploma got burned, which made me feel so ashamed. However, in spite of it all, I have learned to smile.

"I never did go to school, and instead, I took on several jobs. I worked as a maid but I hardly earned any money, so I decided to move somewhere else in the same town where I got a job as a storekeeper. Luckily, I could stay there rent-free, so I could save a little bit of money for me and my family. I also learned a lot from this store, such as contacting suppliers, how to bargain, how to sell.

"I missed my family, so I went back and worked at mini market, also as a store keeper. Here is where I meet my first husband. We had three beautiful and handsome children, and I decided to stop working to take care of my little family. However, our economic situation required I went back to work, and I started selling vegetables in a traditional market. Business was good, and I was able to afford a new house for our happy family.

"During that time, a friend who used to sell raw leather and leather products borrowed some money from me. To convince me, he asked me to go with him to see the leather supplier, his workshop, the way he sold the products, and also meet his customers. I learned a lot from this experience, even though it took him a long time to pay back the loan!

"I got so inspired to sell raw leather and leather goods, that I became immersed in this venture. I was working very hard, as I thought I had to make a lot of money to make my family happy, since my husband couldn't fulfill our needs. I wanted to share my success with my relatives and make them as happy as I was, so I took in my sister's daughter so she could go to a better school.

"Unfortunately, I hadn't realized that I was too busy to take care of my husband and our children. I found out my husband was having an affair with my sister's daughter in our lovely home. I was so sad. It was like the end of the world to me. I was so shocked. I left my house for five days. I needed time to be alone.

"I decided to divorce him and took all my children with me. I felt like a 'lost woman' for a while, until I realized that life must go on. I didn't want my unhappiness to affect my children. And though this was a tough time in my life, I still had to face huge financial losses, as a customer didn't pay me for the products he bought. It took him four years to pay up.

"I still had other things to be grateful for, like the presence of a wonderful girl who helped me after school hours by selling my products in many stores. I also met a new man, a taxi driver, and we got married. We moved to Bali in 2001, when he got offered a good job. I sold everything and started a new life in Bali.

"Since I had made a name for myself selling leather, it was easier to get started again, and I did so with the help of my children, as my new husband had no interest in this project. He was also quite busy trying to please his new boss.

"In 2011, I lost my youngest son to brain cancer. It was another sad moment in my life. Life was so difficult for me. On top of that, my husband was always drunk and cheating on me. I tried to stay in this unhappy situation thinking about my children's happiness. At least he was taking care of them so well, and I didn't want them grow without a figure of father. Then my eldest daughter reminded me that we are all worth a happy life. Let him go and I should try to be happy, appreciate my own life. So I decided to get my second divorce, where I had to split everything, even a motorbike that we used for work.

"Now, my focus is on my children and the people that work with me, as well as designing and crafting leather goods. Both of my children are also involved in this venture, and I love seeing them happy and continuing what I worked so hard to get started.""