Ni Luh Jelantik brings style and sexiness to heels

by Peni Widarti on 2012-04-21

Born to a modest family, the 37-year-old charming and beautiful Ni Luh Putu Ary Pertami is now paving her way as one of the most creative and admired shoe designers on the island of Bali with her footwear signature brand, Ni Luh Djelantik.

Her ultimate goal in designing and producing shoes is to prove that women wearing her shoes will look beautiful, sexy, smart and confident, while still being comfortable.

She is now leading a happy and fulfilling life with French-born husband Cedric Cador and their 3.5- year-old daughter, Ni Luh Putu Ines Saraswati Djelantik.

Pertami shared her passions and dreams with Bali Daily’s Peni Widarti at her opulent shoe boutique in Kerobokan area near Kuta early this week.

The following is an excerpt from the interview.

Question: How did you come to love shoes so much?

Answer: It came from my childhood memories. My mother always bought me shoes larger than my real size so that I could use them for years. That was mainly for economic reasons because we did not have enough money to buy new shoes.

Since that time, my mind was occupied with finding ways to produce long-lasting shoes for everybody. I found that there are not many shoe producers and designers in Indonesia, especially in Bali. I also found it difficult to find good quality, affordable shoes.

My obsession was to introduce locally made shoes of an international quality that everyone is proud to wear.

When did you make the milestone decision to start your career as a shoe designer?

I would rather call myself a shoe maker than a shoe designer, as I do not have any academic design background.

[Graduating from the Economic Faculty of Gunadarma University in Jakarta, Pertami pursued her professional career initially as a receptionist, then an account manager and later as a marketing director for designer Paul Ropp in Bali. Working at Paul Ropp required her to travel extensively to expand the business and promote the designer’s products worldwide.]

One day in 2003, I had just arrived home from a business expansion project in New York when I had to quit work to undergo surgery to remove my appendix and a tumor. That was a decisive moment in my life. It was when I realized I had to live my childhood dream — making shoes.

What were the most challenging things in trying to achieve your dreams?

Lack of capital, experience and market access could all have stopped me. My husband, Cedric Cador, helped me establish a small shoe workshop in Kerobokan with two shoe artisans in 2003. I created Nilou as the brand for my exclusive handmade footwear. I did not want to create “mass products”. Suddenly, I received orders to ship 4,000 pairs of shoes in 12 different styles to European countries. Since I did not have a big factory to meet such a huge demand, I had to ask another shoe factory to produce those orders for me. I was not satisfied with the quality of the products and I decided to set up my own shoe factory.

I now employ 40 shoe designers and workers to create the best, most trendy shoes ever made on the island.

What made you change the brand from Nilou to Ni Luh Djelantik?

What is in a name? From 2003 to 2005, Nilou shoes had already penetrated the European and Australian markets. My agents in those countries offered me business partnership schemes producing footwear and clothing lines, bag and accessories under the Nilou brand.

I just ignored that idea. That was against my own dream and my conscience. I just wanted to make shoes. They [the agents] cheated me though by registering their products under Nilou Australia and Nilou China. It was such hurtful experience. I had to change my Nilou brand, the one that I had built from scratch. With the blessing of my parents, I started to use Ni Luh Djelantik as the new brand for my shoes. Djelantik is my father’s name.

How did you introduce the new brand to your customers?

My customers are my queens to me. I always develop personal relationships with my clients. I want them to be satisfied with the products. When they enter my boutique, I explain in detail about their selected shoes — the materials, the style and anything they want to know. After-sales service is also important to maintain customers. If their shoes are worn out, we can easily fix them.

I have thousands of faithful customers who trust my products. In addition to creating a website and other tools to promote the new brand, I really believe in the power of words. I strongly believe that my customers will tell their friends and families about Ni Luh Djelantik, which is now available in European and Japanese luxury shoe stores.

Could you tell me how you come up with a design for your shoes and the process of translating that idea?

The ideas flow like water in a river. They just appear at any time and in any place. Sometimes, I see chic and trendy shoes in magazines, but I never copy them. I have to incorporate various design elements and varied materials — from high heels, stilettos, wedges, boots, to platform shoes to meet demands.

Planning is also important. We have to understand the current shoe trend, both in domestic and global markets, before we introduce our newest collections. For instance, in April 2012, we have to prepare our collections for next year’s summer season.

What shoes do you wear every day?

I am proud to wear Ni Luh Djelantik shoes for casual and formal occasions. All of my workers also wear the same products. For daily wear, I use flat, comfortable shoes.

Sometimes, I like wearing designer shoes by Yves Saint Laurent or Alexander McQueen, they are my favorite designers.

Do you still have something to accomplish?

I want to make women look elegant while wearing my shoes. I also hope to improve the skill and living conditions of my shoemakers and employees.

What is the shoe of choice?

Today, Dewi Peeptoe is the collection that is most popular—the high heels and the platform styles. My customers adore them so much. The style is really suitable for work, parties and casual moments.

If you were asked to create a pair of shoes for a world-famous person, who would it be?

I don’t have the courage to even dream about making shoes for such a distinguished person. I have a simple dream — to make Ni Luh Djelantik a household brand. I really want to see Indonesian women wear my shoes with pride. If a famous person or world figure wore my shoes, I would be as happy as if I saw an Indonesian wearing them.

 [In fact, Julia Roberts and Paris Hilton have both been seen wearing Ni Luh Djelantik shoes.]

— Photos By Zul Trio Anggono

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