The handcrafted product had been losing its value and meaning. In some areas of Indonesia, it couldn't compete with the mass-manufactured counterpart. It left the craft artisans in frustration; it felt like their creation was no longer desired. Nyiur was founded as a space for artisans of Teluk Ma'jantu to solve their problems by creative product development and story-telling marketing.
Our journey in Sepatokimin Initiative brought us to one village in a coastal area of Singkawang. Teluk Ma'jantu is a little village in Sedau, near Batu Burung Beach, Singkawang. It was Bang Is, a woodcraft artisan, that brought us to this village. Bang Is has been crafting wooden mats and wooden furniture for years and supporting his family through his crafting skill.
Working in a craft field was not the first work Bang Is had ever done. In his youth, he left his village searching for better luck in the city of Pontianak. Bang Is was working as factory labor for years. He was hoping for a better life in the city, but in reality, living under minimum wage in a fast-paced and costly environment is so unforgiving for people like Bang Is. It was not the kind of life that he expected before. He chose the slower, kinder life and went back to Teluk Ma'Jantu and started his wooden craft business.
Everything was going well for a while. Bang Is was producing a beaded mat with his wife and some of the women from the village. In the early 2000s, people from Kalimantan and even Sumatera were ordering the wooden mat; it was so popular that Bang Is had to ask more people in his village to help in the production. But the world kept changing, and the fast-paced growth that only happened in big cities before started to have its way to villages. It can't be denied that the development brought better infrastructure to his hometown. But from Bang Is' point of view, the negative impacts had been more significant than the positive.
Bang Is was born and raised in Teluk Ma'jantu. He built his family home there. He has three children that the education he has to support. Besides crafting wooden mats, his wife was selling accessories and food in Batu Burung beach, but she has to stop in the time of the Pandemic. It was common for people in his village and surrounding area to use craft products daily. Since many manufactured products with the same function and lower prices were entering the market, craft products' sales declined. His creation cannot compete in the market because people demand less expensive goods--while he cannot make them any cheaper because of the long production time. Bang Is tried to lower his production cost by choosing lower-quality materials, but even that strategy did not work.
If we think about it, the traditional craft is often better than its plastic, mass-manufactured counterpart. Our ancestors created them from local regenerative material, sourced and produced as needed, treated as valuable, and even considered them a legacy. Modern civilization treated many products as disposable. We quickly threw away products that didn't spark joy to make room for other things we mindlessly bought. We often didn't realize the cost of our convenience and hassle-free lifestyle. We couldn't see the price because it happened far away, from the exploitation of resources in the last-miles area. We took its nature and its labor and left its people in hopelessness.
But the people in Teluk Ma'jantu didn't want to remain still. Together with Bang Is and his village's youth, we founded Nyiur, a collective brand from Teluk Ma'jantu. We sat together in Bang Is' workshop to develop his wooden craft for the first product line of Nyiur, and we couldn't wait to create more. Nyiur was the first step for us to bring back our appreciation of craft in the village of Teluk Ma'jantu and the surrounding area, and we hope someday the recognition will come from the people from the cities.
Nyiur designs and produces a wide range of crafts from local resources.