Hubert Burda Media

Samantha Wijaya: Best Face Forward

The mother of two is taking on the fast-moving beauty industry, one lipstick at a time.

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Samantha Wijaya is two hours late for our interview. Held back by flight delays — the bane of all jet-setters — she finally arrives, a vision of casual-chic in skinny black jeans and a floral top, matched with the iconoclastic fur-soled Gucci loafers and an alligator skin Hermès Lindy handbag. In between her effusive apologies, I learn she has not only flown in to Singapore (with her two young daughters and a nanny in tow) especially for this interview, but is also booked on the evening flight to Jakarta right after. At this point, all is forgiven.

Born and raised in Jakarta, the 25-year-old fashion and textile retailing graduate from the University of Manchester considers Singapore as her second home. Having lived here briefly when she was pursuing a postgraduate degree at the Singapore Management University, many of her closest friends are also based in the city-state.

These days, she visits at least once a month for her children’s paediatric check-ups, to shop, or get her tresses trimmed by celebrity hairstylist David Gan. Her family’s hairstylist since she was a child, Gan now tends to her daughters’ hair as well.


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The second of three daughters born to businessman Yongky Wijaya and homemaker Theresia Wijaya, she was 22 when she married her husband Kevin Soesilo. He was a friend of the family and the pair dated briefly before the smitten Soesilo popped the question when they were on holiday in Bali. “It was crazy! We got engaged and then married two months after the engagement. I prayed for signs of chaos if things weren’t meant to be but everything happened so beautifully,” she reminisces.

A year later, the couple had their first daughter, Belle. It was also around this time that she started Wonder Works, an event decorating business, together with elder sister Jacqueline and two friends. “Everything that I learnt fell into place after I had children. People usually have kids only after doing so much in their lives but for me, I did plenty more after having them,” she says.

What had begun as a hobby setting up private events and birthdays for friends took off quickly, amassing a clientele that includes Indonesian celebrities and luxury brands, such as watchmaker deLaCour, within two years. “It was really hard at first because we didn’t know what we were doing and had to compete with all the other more established event decorating companies out there. Now I think we’ve found our niche so the business is growing and we’re getting more clients every month,” she shares.


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In spite of its success and expansion plans, Wijaya plans on taking a back seat “for the time being” to pursue a completely different commercial

venture. The doe-eyed beauty is banding together with fellow kindred spirits — her sister-in-law and a mutual friend — to launch their own beauty brand, Rosé All Day. Their plan is to start conservatively, offering just a range of lipstick colours and a lip care kit. “The plan is to focus on the lips first. We want to release things slowly and see how things go,” she says.

Like most women, Wijaya’s fascination with make-up began when she was a little girl. She remembers like it was yesterday, how her grandmother would put on make-up from 6am to 8am every single day, like clockwork precision. “She always looks flawless,” she recounts. “When I was in high school, she would always tell me: ‘Don’t be a lazy girl, at least put on some powder so you don’t look dead!’ It never mattered to me until I started working and meeting people. Now I actually love doing it and think all the effort is worth it,” she says.

These days, leaving the house barefaced is no longer an option for Wijaya. Not only will she never leave home without make-up, she experiments with make-up even on days when she has no plans to head out. “It gives me peace. When my kids are sleeping and I have some time for myself, I put on make-up. I like playing with different colours and kinds of looks,” she says.

With Rosé All Day in full swing and due for a soft launch sometime this month, Wijaya is surprised at how much progress she and her partners have made in such short time. Built around the promise of creating “a piece of luxury for every day, at a price point affordable to everyone”, Rosé All Day is produced in Indonesia from quality products sourced from around the world. For the time being, items will retail exclusively online, but plans are underway to secure distribution through Sephora Indonesia in the near future.


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“We had to learn about production, lead time, capacity, stability testing and formulas — that was tough!” she shares. Having launched into a very technical explanation about how lipstick is stored and contained in their respective tubes, Wijaya adds that the learning process is a lot like going back to school. “It’s much more fun though. And I think knowing how such things work is important so I won’t get swindled!”

The team is currently working with five celebrities and social media influencers on a capsule lipstick collection called Five by Rosé, which will see the creation of five unique lippies, each formulated to the needs and desires of the respective ladies. Set to launch in the first quarter of 2017, it is banking on the popularity of the personalities to spur demand, seeing as how 100 percent of proceeds will be donated to Pemberdayaan Perempuan Kepala Keluarga (Women-Headed Household Empowerment Program), a non-governmental organisation that promotes the empowerment of women. 

“I wanted to make something that all women can love. In my country, women aren’t treated fairly. When women encounter problems and there’s so much going on, they end up losing perspective on how beautiful they are. Charity work is close to my heart and I wanted to do something for these women, even if it’s a small initiative,” she explains.

As a middle child raised in a family of daughters, Wijaya was ingrained with the values of filial piety, responsibility and family unity since young — a reason, perhaps, why she only chooses to embark on business ventures with family and close friends.

In spite of all that’s on her plate, she also keeps abreast on matters relating to the family’s flagship business: Jasuindo Tiga Perkasa, a Jakarta Stock Exchange-listed integrated business document manufacturer founded by her father, President Commissioner Yongky Wijaya. “In a nutshell, my dad makes things that have to do with secured transactions, like credit cards, drivers’ licences and passports,” she says.


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While she herself has no plans to take on an official role within the company, husband Soesilo is helping her father expand the firm’s cards and chips segment — a responsibility that often sees him bouncing ideas off her. “Even though I’m not working in the company, I am expected to know everything that Kevin does. My dad will sometimes call me out of the blue to ask me about what’s going on and when that happens, I better be able to answer him,” she says. “Ensuring that we understand his business is important to him because it’s his legacy and it’s something that is very close to him.”

As we reach the end of the interview, Riley, her younger daughter that is just shy of a year-old, starts fussing, having woken up from her nap. Keeping our chat going while attending to Riley, Wijaya admits motherhood is tough: “It’s the hardest but also the most rewarding thing I’ve been through. It puts things into perspective and gives me a new outlook on everything. It forces me to grow up and not be selfish; it teaches me to be selfless,” she reveals.

As for how she intends to tackle the tasks and challenges laid out before her, she shares her life motto, one that was gleaned from her own parents: “Do your best and let God to the rest…at the end of the day, we know why we are doing the things we are doing and who we are doing them for.”