When you hear word herbal medicine, the stigma that may arise is a traditional drink that is bitter, tastes bad, smells pungent, and so on. Therefore, despite knowing the benefits of herbal medicine for body health, not a few people still refuse to drink herbal medicine and prefer other drinks that feel better.
On the basis of this thinking, dr. Agnes Sukenty Niken Puspitarini was called to introduce delicious herbal medicine, so that it could be preferred by more people, of course by not leaving various benefits of natural and traditional raw materials. With the Ing Pawon brand carried, he hopes to introduce a delicious way to drink healthy drinks.
Doctors Who Dare to Decide on Entrepreneurship from the Hobby of Drinking Herbs
As the title suggests, Dr. Agnes Sukenty Niken Puspitarini is indeed a doctor. In the past, this 2002 graduate of the Faculty of Medicine, UPN Veteran Jakarta, may never have thought of going into the traditional beverage business. Although she does love traditional drinks, especially herb. It's kind of a hereditary tradition in her family.
To the layman, maybe all herb tastes the same. But it's different for Niken and her family. Having been familiar with herb for a long time, Niken admits that it is very difficult to find jamu that suits his taste in Jakarta. Moreover, there was an issue about the process of making jamu that was not in accordance with procedures, which made her even more worried.
In 2017, Niken was moved to try making her own herb even though the results were still disappointing. "At first, the taste was chaotic, too bitter, too sour, salty, the color was muddy, the results were all kinds of things. But because I made it often, I finally understood the dosage and my husband thought it was delicious," she said.
Niken's homemade herbs are usually kept for the family's stock at home, others are put in plastic packaging and distributed to the mothers of students she meets when dropping off their children at school. Again, she receives positive feedback, and they even support Niken to make it a business and refuse to give it away for free. "My friends said the jamu was delicious, why not sell it, in fact they insisted on buying it and wouldn't drink my homemade jamu if given free again," Niken recalls.
Because the concept became "selling", Niken switched from the plastic kilos she had been using to plastic bottles, which she thought were more appropriate. However, the next challenge was pricing. When friends asked how much the jamu should cost, Niken didn't have an exact calculation of how much the selling price should be.
According to Niken, buyers usually bargain for the price, especially friends, if they can even get the lowest price. However, Niken was lucky that it was her friends who gave her the courage to start the business she is in today.
Support from Family and Friends
Apart from her friends, Niken received the biggest support from her husband. Her husband promised to make stickers to beautify Niken's jamu packaging. However, Niken was given the challenge of selling 1,000 bottles in 3 months.
"My husband wants to make me a sticker, but I have to sell 1,000 bottles in three months. He said it was to make sure that my jamu is liked by many people. Who knows, only my friends like my jamu," she said. Sure enough, Niken managed to meet the challenge even in just 1 month.
In making jamu, Niken learned a lot from her mother. In addition, she also learned from jamu gendongan, her regular jamu raw material seller in Yogyakarta, videos on YouTube, and old books that discuss jamu.
As a brand for her jamu business, Niken initially chose the name Pawon Reged. The name is taken from the Javanese language which means dirty kitchen. This name was chosen because the philosophy of the ancient kitchen was usually dirty with soot from firewood, but that's where good food came from, from the processed hands of the mother who cooked while praying that the food made was filling, healthy and loved by the family.
But it was criticized for its dirty connotations. Because many people made such comments, Niken believed that this was how people viewed her product name. It was eventually changed to Ing Pawon, meaning in the kitchen. The philosophy is the same, good food and drinks come from the kitchen and bring happiness to those who enjoy," she said.
Reducing Practice Schedule, Starting to Focus on Business and Business Innovation
As a doctor who is also a beginner in the herbal medicine business, the obstacle Niken faced was time management. Niken, who also has a regular practice schedule, has to be smart in utilizing her limited free time. "If I get an order, I can't make it right away, it has to be adjusted to my schedule. I usually make jamu at night after practice or on weekends. Even if there are no orders, I still make it, because I stock it for my own consumption too," she explained.
Hence, in 2019 Niken began to reduce her practice schedule, only about 3 times a week. The other days were used to attend business training to increase her knowledge in business, and began to organize her time better for herbal medicine production. When she started focusing on her business, Niken was also able to develop various herbal product innovations.
In Niken's creative hands, jamu is not only a ready-to-drink product but also a modern syrup, powder and even teabag. "Many of the innovation ideas come from my husband, and I execute them. In addition, many are also constrained by the durability of herbal medicine, which is not durable. Our first innovation was the syrup model," she said.
Product innovation is certainly not just produced without a great struggle. No wonder Niken had to go through countless failures to achieve it. Moreover, the innovation is quite unique, namely traditional drinks with contemporary product variants and flavors.
Currently, Ing Pawon products can be obtained either online or offline. Online, you can access them through Pasar Daya, or directly to Tokopedia and Ing Pawon's Instagram account.
Offline, you can find them in several retailers, such as Transmart, Gellael Supermarkets in Jakarta and Makassar, Food Hall, Total Buah Segar, Capital Fruit, Souvenir Shop in Gambir, as well as several retailers in Gresik and Surabaya. According to Niken, she is targeting modern retailers to reach a wider market.
Not only jamu, Ing Pawon already has various flavors, including 13 flavors of jamu syrup, such as empon-empon, sinom, pala rempah, beras kencur, ginger rempah, and so on. There are 6 flavors of jamu powder, such as bir pletok, kunyit asam, temulawak, and 5 flavors of jamu celup teabag, such as campur sari and teh mawar. There is also a variant of jamu tisane, which is dried jamu like dried tea leaves for those who prefer to make jamu by boiling it themselves. These innovations, of course, do not leave the essence that jamu is a healthy drink without added preservatives. Nevertheless, Ing Pawon still has the original jamu variant with the typical taste of traditional jamu.
Ups and Downs of Managing a Business, Reaching the Highest Turnover During the Pandemic
Pioneering and building a business is not easy. To achieve what she has today, Niken has had to face various challenges and obstacles, including losses. She still remembers that when she first started her herbal medicine business, she had to suffer a loss of more than Rp2 million due to the fact that the herbal medicine products she sold in one of the stores in Puncak were returned, because they did not sell well and were eventually discarded due to expiration.
However, fortunately, during the pandemic, when other businesses were experiencing shocks, Niken actually managed to get her highest turnover, which was IDR 25 million per month. During the pandemic, many people were "shocked" to want to be healthy, so many people became diligent in exercising and eyeing herbal drinks including jamu. Those who didn't like it before, now like it for the sake of being healthy and avoiding COVID-19. Hence, the demand for jamu has increased.
Niken is assisted by 6 employees to fulfill the needs of jamu production since the 2020 pandemic. She also offers jamu and honey bundling products as a sales strategy.
As COVID-19 cases dropped in early 2022, Ing Pawon's sales also declined. While other businesses are working to increase their turnover to pre-pandemic levels, Niken is preparing to ride the wave for her business. "I already knew that after the pandemic, my turnover would decline. That's why during the pandemic, I didn't just sell, but also reorganized my marketing strategy, business plan and product innovation to keep up with trends and maintain my turnover," she explains.
During the 2-year pandemic, Niken has prepared many things to make her business survive post-pandemic. In addition, she also equipped herself by participating in MSME activities fostered by the ministry, BUMN, including from BTPN Bank. From these activities, Niken made many acquaintances, gained connections from institutions that held training, and was even facilitated in terms of finance, export preparation and exhibitions abroad.
Future Plans and Motivation for Fellow Businessmen
Sure enough, thanks to connections from fellow activity participants, Ing Pawon products are now also available at Pullman Central Park Hotel, Intercontinental Pondok Indah Hotel and several spas. Niken believes that after the pandemic, sales cannot continue to be done online, because people will gradually shop offline again. Hence, she plans to add modern retail partners and the Horeca (Hotel Resto Café) network.
In the midst of her various business development plans, this ageless woman at the age of 48 is also trying to improve her marketing strategy to make it more powerful.
For fellow businesspeople, Niken advises them to stay focused on what they are doing. "I've been there, because sales were really low, so I tried to switch to something else, but it turned out that people were asking for my jamu again. That means my product is sought after, which means the problem is not the product but me," she said.
For friends who are planning a business, Niken motivates them not to listen too much to what other people say, especially those who are just naysayers. "At first, I felt ashamed of selling. How could a doctor sell herbal medicine, what would people say? I was lucky to be supported by my family, to be in a circle of people who think optimistically, to join a community that helps scale up the business. So I focused more on the business. There's something a friend said that I remember until now, he said my jamu was delicious. If I persevere, I can make it big from this business. Well, other people can be sure, if I myself am not sure," he recalls.
"If you want to start a business, start from what you like first. For example, a hobby, develop it from there. If you start from what you like, the road will be lighter, because it's fun. Whether you sell or not, you'll enjoy it, it won't be a burden, enjoy the whole process. Don't when it's quiet, just end it," she concluded.
I hope Niken's story with Ing Pawon can inspire you. If you need advice and assistance, you can consult with MSME practitioners and trainers at Tanya Ahli.