Nadia Bintoro | Embun Natural

Nadia Bintoro started Embun Natural in 2015 driven by a desire to provide affordable, sustainable skincare to people. To~ko Concept Store was her first partner and store to stock the products. Here she talks about what drives her. 

What is Embun & when did you start it?
Embun Natural is a line of natural body care that I developed in late 2015. The name Embun means morning dew in Bahasa Indonesia. This signifies the intention behind Embun’s product, which is to create skin & body care products that are pure & made using natural ingredients without any parabens, preservatives & other chemical materials.

Why & how did you start Embun?
Even before I started Embun, I was always interested with socio-environmental & sustainability issues & always tried to make a conscious purchase as a customer. Back in 2015, I was working in Greenpeace Southeast Asia & my job exposed me further to many environmental & sustainability issue in the regions.

As I was working for Greenpeace, I met many inspiring figures in environmental & sustainability fields, which cemented my intention to create something that can contribute to the solutions. Through my other line of work as a journalist, I also got the chance to interview some Bali’s local natural spa products & got the chance to pick their brain before starting Embun.

However, Embun was actually never meant to be created as a business. It’s more like an extension of all things that I like; nature, creative crafting & green products. & I personally like to create my own healing concoction as I do have sensitive skin that is prone to allergy. But I just never thought that this is saleable before I met all those people along the line.

What is your role in Embun?
My role in Embun is everything!  As the sole conceptor of Embun, I made all the products myself & started with things that I actually needed, such as allergy cream dubbed the Miracle Salve.

I also designed all the label & the packaging myself, creating the website & managing its social media, as well as to actually stick the individual label in each bottle myself! Every Embun product is truly my labor of love & care.

I first started selling Embun’s in bazaar, & just recently I picked the confidence to put it on consignment & To~ko is the first person to stock my products.

Just in the last two months, the orders started pouring in as we have also opened our first shop outlet in Jimbaran, & so now I have enlisted some additional staff to help me make Embun.

What is your vision for Embun & as a social entrepreneur?
I want Embun to create natural body care products that is free from chemical preservatives & available & affordable to everyone all around Indonesia.

The truth in the market is all these natural & green products tend to be more expensive that the chemical packed ones. For me, it doesn’t make sense. How can a product that actually has less ingredients that factory made product, are more expensive? One of my intentions is to have this natural body care products accessible to all – including those located in remote islands or at least not in a big city.

I think, being environmentally conscious should be seen not as a privilege. I’m originally come from Balikpapan in East Borneo, so I know the pain of ordering product & having had to pay shipping fees higher than the price of the product itself. I took this into consideration when setting the price for Embun. I want them to be affordable for all.

In addition, I also always aim to use local ingredients in all Embun’s product.  I wish to promote the economy of Indonesia first rather than importing essential oils. Here there are plenty native essential oils & plants that offer the same if not more benefits. Also going local will also limit the carbon footprint emissions in transporting imported ingredients. I also wish to promote the economy of Indonesian first. In this way, I think we can all support the growth of local communities within Indonesia first.

What types of environmentally friendly, local ingredients & knowledge do you use?
I first started Embun by opening a small green shop in Ubud with a friend, where we collected natural products, crops, organic vegetables from the local producers. The products collected also included a series of natural body care made by local artisans. The shop didn’t go well but from it I gained so much knowledge about making natural body care products as I often visited the makers & saw them making their products by hand.

All Embun’s products are made with the basic ingredients of virgin coconut oil which is palm oil free, no petroleum jelly component, paraffin, or any chemical preservatives as they are all handmade in small batches; instead of factory made that have longer shelf-life & made in thousands.

Where to next for Embun?
I want to have more environmentally friendly packaging. To be honest, right now we are still using plastic bottles, which is not really environmentally friendly, as we all know.

I have juggled with the idea of using glass or aluminium packaging – but it’s costly which will reflect on the price. & as I mentioned above on my intention to create an affordable green products. My main aim is still to make Embun’s products as affordable as possible – especially, for those Embun’s customers that are residing in other islands.

I’m torn between wanting to be idealistic & practical. On one hand, I want to make Embun as environmentally friendly as possible, but I also don’t want to make it too exclusive that no one can use it. If there is a middle-ground solution, I’d really love to know.

Why are stores such as To~ko important for young entrepreneurs?
It’s very important. It provides a channel for our products to reach the market. & most importantly for me, it really builds my confidence as a maker of the products. As I created all aspects of Embun from design to the actual product, it’s hard not to take this product personally.

I remember when I first put Embun in To~ko, I was really surprised to know that it sells well! To~ko is slowly opening more possibility for me.

How does To~ko help you develop as a young business?
They provide me channel to reach my customers. Before I didn’t even think that Sanur’s crowd would like thing like Embun but the sales performance proves me wrong. & I’m very happy.

It’s also a great way to gain market research. From this, new product idea is sprouting. I even created one toiletries set of Lemongrass series that consist of shower gel, body lotion & shampoo & body mist – based on the input from Colin, a staff member at To~ko.

Why are creative hubs such as Rumah Sanur important for innovation in Bali?
I think idea sparks when you are in discussion. Rumah Sanur is a hub that gathers all these people. Through the interactions, I got exposed to different set of people. It’s also enlightening to know what other people are doing so you get the new idea of “what else is possible to do out there”.

As a hub, Rumah Sanur also helps me to get the support that I need to grow my business. I actually got my web designer from Kumpul to design my company’s website.