Indonesian app startup helps tailors become their own bosses

Mark Ross
By Mark Ross
March 12, 2017World News

This might only look like a small workshop near Jakarta, Indonesia, but it could be the beginning of a fashion revolution.

For years there’s been a growing demand for high-quality local brands, but the industry has struggled to find the manpower to actually make the clothes.

Now, startup Kostoom is trying to fix that.

Launched in February 2016, Kostoom is a desktop application that in just a few clicks connects home tailors and seamstresses with fashion designers and businesses.

Clients upload their unique designs and place their orders.

Then, the startup helps them finalize their designs, choose the right fabrics, and make samples before finding qualified people to actually sew the clothes.

Kostoom founder, Putri Yuliastutik, got the idea after watching her own mother struggle to make ends meet while working as a seamstress from home.

Even though her mother had good sewing skills, she had trouble finding work and was getting paid very little for her services.

Putri and her three fellow co-founders decided to develop an application to empower people like her mother.

“I worked with my friends to develop a web application to help home tailors receive direct orders from customers,” explained Putri.

“They don’t have to work at big garment factories and they can receive just as many orders working from home.”

The startup accepts both individual and bulk orders on its website.

People can request a single-piece order, input their measurements and receive the finished item within 10 days.

Kostoom is currently working with 40 qualified seamstresses, but aims to employ hundreds more in the near future.

In less than a year, the startup claims to have already begun changing the lives of the people it aimed to help.

Putri claims many home seamstresses have gone from making US$75  a month to around four times that since joining them.

“Our main goal is to make home tailors throughout Indonesia become their own bosses,” she said.

“They can set up their own small factory at home and improve their welfare.”

Currently the startup has around 400 registered users, with almost three-quarters of them belonging to small and medium fashion businesses.

It has also collaborated with a well-known Indonesian fashion designer.

Yunita Hafrida specializes in plus-size wear and uses the Kostoom service.

Yunita has been in the business since 2012 and said finding good seamstresses is one of her biggest challenges.

“We can work with the startup when we want to sew a single cloth or order a large quantity of clothes,” explained Yunita.

“Kostoom has made it very easy for me because it can pick up the fabric and deliver the final product when finished. The startup also does its measurements directly on site.”

Indonesia’s fashion industry has seen healthy growth in recent years with many local brands becoming household names in the country of around 250 million people.

According to the Indonesian Ministry of Industry, the local fashion industry grew 7 percent in 2015. It also the second highest contributor to the GDP in the creative economy sector.

The export value of Indonesia’s fashion products amounted to about US$12 billion in 2015 with its main markets in the United States, Europe, and Japan.

Secretary General of Indonesian Fashion Chamber Lisa Fitria welcomed the contribution.

“When designers want to make clothes in large quantities, in the thousands, they have to put the order through a garment factory,” she explained.

“This requires a huge financial commitment on the part of the designers. Many new designers, who are just starting out with their brand, often do not want to take the risk.”

Kostoom plans to launch a mobile app later this year and expand its operations to other cities in the country.

It will also represent Indonesia at a global startup competition in Switzerland in April.


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