As one of our Generation T listers this year, Kezia Toemion shines bright as an example of a brave businesswoman who introduced the first vegan cosmetics to the Indonesian market. Read more to find out how she maintains her #bodygoal and why she identifies with Rachel Green from the hit sitcom Friends.
Hello Kezia. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I took my undergraduate studies at Pepperdine University in California, graduated in 2012, worked for a while, and then did my master’s degree in accounting at Loyola Marymount University. In LA, I worked as an accountant and did budgeting for celebrities, actors, and singers, so it was very hands-on and good experience. Afterwards, I decided to come back to Jakarta in 2016 to start ESQA Cosmetics.
Can you tell us the story behind ESQA?
As I mentioned, I was working full time in LA, and in 2014, me and Cindy [Angelina] decided to start something together. I looked for labs in LA while Cindy looked at manufacturers in Indonesia. In the end, we decided that all of the the first batch would be locally produced.
Where did the word ESQA come from, and what is the meaning behind it?
ESQA comes from the Celtic word “Eska”, meaning pure beauty. We want our cosmetics lines to be beautifully packaged, innovative, safe, and natural, all at the same time. We were inspired by the trend in the US, where all the make-up artists are getting into healthier ingredients for their cosmetics products. We are proud to say that we are the first company in Indonesia to produce vegan cosmetics.
When you first started ESQA, other than vegan ingredients what other factors did you consider to differentiate yourself from other make-up brands in Indonesia?
At that time, we noticed that there weren’t any cosmetics brands that created matte lip liquid. Another fun fact is that we actually developed our liquid lipstick before Kylie Cosmetics came out. When they came out in November 2015, we were quite surprised because we were actually developing them. After Kylie Cosmetics became big and everyone knew what liquid lipstick was, our products became more easily accepted, too.
Is there anyone that you can credit with the formulation of ESQA aside from Cindy?
No one else has worked on the formulation except for me and Cindy. Both of us went back and forth multiple times in the lab to make sure the ingredients and qualities were perfect.
As a businesswoman in Indonesia, what was the biggest challenge you faced when starting out?
For ESQA, our biggest challenge when starting out was production. In Indonesia, everything takes longer [laughter]. We were supposed to launch a year earlier in 2015, but it got delayed not only because of the long production timeline in Indonesia, but we also wanted to make sure that every product that we launched was of the highest quality.
Who influences you the most right now?
My mum. She has been such a big influence in my life because I see how strong she is as a woman, and that inspired me to be the woman I am today. Growing up, she always told me to dream, do whatever I aspire to be, and not to settle for anything in life.
What do you do to unwind?
I just like to hang out with my friends and chill. Or if I have had a stressful day at work, I will exercise to sweat out all the stress.
You do have a great body.
Thank you! I try to work out or go to the gym as often as I can. Dance is also really good cardio for me and is also one of my hobbies and passions.
Can you give us your exercise routine for a week?
I try to go to the gym at least three times a week. At the gym, I will run for 30 minutes and then I will do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) where I just use an app or hire a trainer to guide me. On specific days, I will do different workouts that target different parts of my body. For example, one day I will do my legs and arms, while on other days I will target different areas.
Tell us more about your love of dancing.
I used to teach, but since I got so busy I just dance at home [laughs]. I have always like to dance, but I never really went to a dance class.
Are there movies or books that inspire you?
I go to movies to wind down instead of finding inspiration. I like romantic comedies, and for me it’s just for personal entertainment. My favourite movies are The Notebook and A Walk to Remember.
What is your favourite TV series and character?
I like to watch Friends [laughs]. My favourite character is Chandler because he is sarcastic like me and he is always making jokes.
If you could describe yourself as one of the Friends characters, who would it be?
Out of all the women, I would say Rachel because to a lot of people, she’s just a pretty blonde girl, but the fact that she left her family to make something of herself and finally became a successful career woman proved that she was more capable than people thought.