Silvia Limanta & Ruddy Iskandar : When Two Idealists Meet Each Other

Two years ago, it was my first time joining art bazaar. While standing awkwardly amongst the crowd, I saw a bakery booth named Eggknock three meters across from mine. Eggknock sold cookies and cakes that really interested me, but I was too shy to visit their booth L Then thank God, on our last day, Silvia and Ruddy—owners of Eggknock Cookie and Cake—came first to my booth and gave me some yummy treats to bring home. Whoah, what a relief…

Now it’s almost three years since our first meeting, and I still keep in touch with Silvia through our Instagram profiles. We had several discussions on comment section talking about food, music, and film. I must say that Silvia got really cool music preference, because she listens to MEW and OMAM (Of Monster and Men). Then for the film corner, she also got many good slice of life genre recommendations, which I personally really like. And oh! I think it was very surprising when she told me that she likes Ezra Miller too in “We Need to Talk About Kevin”—a cool film that none of my friends ever talked about. I’m so happy that we have a lot in common.

After being online friends with Silvia for over two years, I started to feel more curious and clueless about her at the same time. Since more than a year ago, I’d been thinking to write about Silvia on kuwé jahé. Then finally, in the middle of Eggknock busy days for the upcoming Chinese New Year 2018, we planned to meet each other at a café near my place. I got lucky on that day, since Silvia and Ruddy actually live in Bogor—which is one and half hour drive from my house—but we picked that meeting point because they needed to visit a friend who lives nearby.

At first I thought that meeting would just be about Silvia and her bakery business, but I was wrong, and that conversation was getting more interesting the longer three of us talked together.

I want you to meet: Silvia Limanta (34) and Ruddy Iskandar (38)

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This married couple are both graphic design graduates who had different experience in applying design thinking method, to do things they really love.

“After I graduated, I couldn’t stand working as an employee. I moved from one company to the other, and got a chance to work for advertising agency,” started Silvia. “In that ad company, I once had to work overtime to finish a TV ad until four am. Then in the morning, my boss still asked me to come at nine, although I didn’t have any task left to do. Since that day, I decided to always come late to work, and my boss always nagged me.” Same stories also happened to several companies she worked for. “In every workplace, my boss always told me stuff like, You’re too rebel to work here,” Silvia laughed.

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Things were a little bit different for Ruddy because he chose to start his career by working for a foreign company. “I found it’s more pleasing to work for multinational company. Back then, I had a Malaysian boss who’d hit the table and scream at me when I made mistake. After we finished the problem, we’d talk, have dinner, and drink wine together, like nothing personal ever happened. I understood that he was mad at me for the sake of the company,” Ruddy said. “Meanwhile in most Indonesian companies, they won’t rebuke us right away when we make mistakes. They tend to keep it for later, then use it as a weapon against us,” added Silvia.

“Back in my days as employee, my colleague and I came into this idea: a boss has every rights to pick his best employee. And vice versa, the employee can also do the same in finding his boss. When it feels like we can’t get along with our boss anymore, then we still have choice to quit and find someone who can see our true potential,” he said.

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Maybe Silvia also had a similar idea in her mind—long before she met Ruddy—which pushed her to move from one place to the other. “I’ve worked for many graphic design companies, from the small to the big ones. My experiences there taught me that graphic design isn’t really my thing,” she admitted. “For example, when I made an ad for a food company. All they kept asking me was just to edit the model’s hand in Photoshop, so the product could look bigger and clearer until it resulted in an unrealistic image.” I tried to imagine the weird final result. Probably it looked like the ones I saw on Crappy Design. “From what I see, today’s advertising should be executed in an unconventional way. Engagement between a brand and its customer should be on the top list of priority. Maybe it can be achieved when a brand teams up with a community that suits their segmentation,” Silvia added.

“Honestly, a creative process in briefing with a client would’ve been fun, only if they wanted to explore more. Unfortunately, many clients nowadays don’t really care about their ad concept anymore. It is sad how sales have become their only concern,” she said. “What’s worse is, many companies prefer to hire the printing operators—to create ad design—because their service is way cheaper than us, the design graduates.” As a graphic designer myself, I’ve heard a lot about it, and it always upsets me.

On the other hand, client isn’t the only one to blame for the lack of exploration. “I used to discuss this issue with my senior in Visual Communication Design major. We agreed that back in our days, not many people were aware and interested in designer profession. But now, it happens the other way. This profession has grown a lot in number, but not in quality,” said Ruddy.

It is true that former generation often considers us to be lazier and less critical in solving problems. Well, I hate to say this; but I’ve also seen a lot of talented designers out there who only focus to make beautiful designs, instead of the useful ones. “In my opinion, if a graphic designer can’t provide a concept, then he better work as a printing operator,” Silvia said.

“Actually, when a young person like you talked too much with people from our age, you’ll slowly turn into a bitter person,” she laughed.

Honestly it doesn’t really matter for me. In fact, I respect them so much for being brave, critical, and real.

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Silvia met Ruddy for the first time when she finally moved to a foreign tile company. “In that company, things were more enjoyable. My main job was to design the company ads, and I worked there for about a year.” Later, Silvia was also assigned to make the tile pattern design. “As a promotional gift, our company offered free tiling service for the customer, and I was asked to make the patterns. For me, it felt like assembling a puzzle, really fun and challenging at the same time.” Silvia said that the challenging part was when she had to count the exact amount of the tiles, so nothing went to waste.

Ruddy also saw that company as an interesting place to learn. “Working there, I learned everything from A to Z, including the tile production technique. Then when I ran out of new things to learn, I got jaded and decided to resign.” After that, Ruddy and Silvia resigned together, then they got married. “We were a new unemployed married couple back then,” Ruddy recalled with a smile on his face.

“Later, we started our own tiling business, and named it JumpinJack. Back in those years, people weren’t really interested to hire tiling service,” said Silvia. “To spend my free time, I baked some cakes and cookies for my family Chinese New Year celebration. When there was cookie leftover, I asked my sibling to share it with her campus friends.” Unexpectedly, Silvia’s cookies became famous among the campus students, and it motivated Silvia to build her own bakery brand. “Since high school, I often helped my Mom in baking. Then with my own family recipes—which I already modified—I started Eggknock Cookie and Cake.” Eggknock best-selling items are: nastar (pineapple cookies), sagu keju (cheese sago cookies), katetong (cat tongue shaped cookies), kaastengels (cheese cookies), lapis legit (layered cake), and custard pie.

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On special days like Chinese New Year, Eid Al-Fitr, and Christmas are coming, the demand of lapis legit cake will extremely increase. “For Chinese New Year, we usually do the delivery three days prior.” Silvia admitted that she often faces difficulty to comply the client requests. When it’s a peak season, Silvia will have to bake till very late at night, and it requires a lot of strength, also patience. Then after the cookies are done baking, the challenges don’t just stop there.

In the past, Silvia and Ruddy had to try a lot of shipping and packaging methods, to make sure that their products would be safe when being sent to the customers. “We once tried to deliver our custard pie by using our car. Just a little bump, and the custard will break.” In order to solve that problem, Silvia decided to design the pie box by herself (hmm… I guess that’s the perk of studying graphic design). After many attempts, now the box is strong enough to shield the pie during the shipping. Further, for the lapis legit cake, Silvia applies vacuum system to make sure it’s received in a fresh condition. “Until now, we’ve successfully sent our cakes to Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, and Netherland,” said Silvia proudly.

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“Eggknock has been through a lot to be at this point. In our first two years, we had to put our products at several coffee shops, and did everything one step at a time. Then the time went by, and we stopped selling our cookies at café. We got so happy because customers started to order directly from us,” said Ruddy. Although the cookies Silvia make for Eggknock are pretty common for the locals, she never sees it as a big problem. “I don’t think too much about inventing new cookie recipes. Because for me, what’s more important is to maintain the taste consistency.”

While Silvia was busy establishing her bakery business, Ruddy also got to fight hard to build JumpinJack. “If we look back to the days when I learned about the tile production, we wouldn’t guess that they will bring any significant avail for my job. However, when you start working on the field, that seem tiny information will help you a lot in preventing and solving the problems. It is true that sometimes field experience will give you a lot more insight, compared to just doing of hours of online research,” said Ruddy. “I always try not to underestimate other people’s profession. For instance; a handyman. Though he didn’t go to university like I did, there’s still chance that he might have more knowledge than I do. That’s why I always like talking to strangers, even though it’s just a little chit-chat,” he explained. “True. It’s like storing varied knowledge into a drawer that you can open anytime you need it,” Silvia agreed.

The couple then told me a story about how they helped a French researcher to interview the locals. During his short visit to Indonesia, the man was required to interview a group of people. “He told us that all we have to is just to listen patiently. In the end, everybody will play the same ‘music’, and from that ‘music’, we’ll finally find what we’re looking for.” Ah! That’s what I called as ‘pattern’ (mentioned on the “Wondering?” page).

Many details are actually arduous when it comes to tiles installment. “Mosaic tiles have to be installed by an experienced handyman. Otherwise, the pieces could melt down and wreck before they dry.” Ruddy explained. “It’s just an example of the things we’ve been trying to educate people about. Those who have no experience in tiling will usually buy any random tile they want, without having further consideration about it. The fact is, if you can focus more in your tiling, then there’s a chance you can make your house pleasant,” said Silvia. “Yes, it’s not about the size of your house, or the price of tiles you use. What makes a house look pleasant and comfortable is the way you put things together. Even a tiny house can turn into a comfortable well-designed place if you want it,” added Ruddy.

Now JumpinJack is growing bigger. They don’t only help people in tiling, but also handle their interior design. “A lot of things are taken care by Ruddy, and I’m more focusing on Eggknock now,” said Silvia. Anyway, when talking about interior design and house decorating, many Indonesians are still infatuated with IKEA, although it’s been their fourth year here. “A partner asked me this question; Aren’t you afraid that someday your clients will prefer to buy things from IKEA? And I answered, Definitely not. We both are playing in two different games. IKEA sells their knock down furniture, while I made the custom ones,” said Ruddy. “Honestly I also buy some of IKEA products—for example, their sink—because I like the designs. I don’t see IKEA as an opponent. Instead, I’m grateful for their presence because it gives me a lot more options in fulfilling my needs. Don’t be afraid of competition. The truth is, they help you to grow faster.”

People said that beauty attracts beauty, and it works the same way for JumpinJack. Seems like their determination in doing business has attracted a particular type of client. “Most of our clients always mop the floor twice a day because cleanliness is their concern. Hence, we always tell our handyman to work as neatly as possible,” Ruddy said. “They are also willing to spend a lot of money, because they appreciate and trust us to do our job.”

“When finding clients, things are just gliding where they should be. And based on our experience, some clients will test us first.” For example, there was one client who hired JumpinJack to do the tiling for a small bathroom. After seeing the satisfying result, they hired JumpinJack to handle another bigger room. “Doesn’t really matter whether it’s just a test or real request. What’s more important is to give your best in doing your task. Fortunately, by keeping that in mind, we now have continuing clients, and some of them have been using our service for more than three years.” That client even asked Ruddy to build a dog house for their buddy. By the way, it wasn’t just a normal dog house. From what I heard, the client spent more than a million rupiah for it. “But the dog prefers to sleep on the ground hahaha…” Silvia laughed.

My design books and teachers always tell me that designers in any part of this world should always be ready for the potential plagiarism towards their work. “Few years ago when we shared JumpinJack tile patterns on the internet, some people copied them,” Ruddy said. “Those people were actually our ex-potential-client. Using our sample as a roadmap, they hired another people to install the tiles,” Silvia added. “We think it was fine because it proved that our work is well-designed. It’s more important to keep moving forward,” explained Ruddy.

After all these years, JumpinJack and Eggknock are always supporting each other. “There’s a moment where someone I met from the foodie community ordered my cookies, and recommended it to her sister. Turned out, her sister was about to open a café and looking for interior designer. Later, I introduce JumpinJack to her and she trusted Ruddy to handle it,” Silvia said. “We also often give free cookies for JumpinJack clients—not as a promotion, but a thank you gift—and luckily, a lot of them like the taste and asked us where they can get one. That way, they began to know Eggknock.”

Many people seem really addicted to Eggknock’s signature nastar, and I wondered what kind of magic Silvia used in it haha! So a couple months after that meeting, I went to Silvia’s place in Bogor, and got a chance to observe her baking process. It was so lovely how she still used many old (but gold) baking utensils such as baking trays, oven, and mixer. Most of them came from Silvia’s mother.

“I arranged the cookies so neatly not because I have an OCD,she explained before I even asked. “The tray is old and the center part can’t distribute the heat well. So I have to arrange my cookies in certain way.” Then she continued arranging the kaastengels pieces so neatly, like a doing the layout of a magazine. When those guys were all perfectly placed, Ruddy then helped Silvia to grate the cheese for the topping. “Ruddy will usually help me anytime he can stay at home.”

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In making nastar cookies, Silvia quickly and steadily used the chopstick to fill the dough with pineapple jam. When the nastar got into the oven, Ruddy began preparing egg for the coating. From what I remember, Silvia told me that nastar cookies should be baked and coated twice, so they will have a crispy texture on the outside, while still soft on the inside. Yum! “Sometimes the customer wants the nastar to be a little bit overbaked, while the other wants it to be barely gold,” she said.

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Which team are you? The overbaked, or the barely gold one?

“I like the overbaked ones, and my mom likes it to be more overbaked. When she makes nastar, she’ll casually leave the oven unattended, and get busy by scrolling through Facebook page, or just simply watch TV,” said Silvia.

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“Some people asked me why would a design graduate like me choose to sell cookies. The answer is, I’m just doing what I love, and it makes me happy,” Silvia said.

My interview with Silvia was a proof of Michael Bierut’s quotes, “Sometimes unintended consequences are the best consequences.” Thank you for having me, Silvia and Ruddy!

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