The fabulous 31-year-old Erika Santoso is a mother of one (Reicher Sulistyo, 2). Born into an entrepreneur family and being the one-and-only child, Erika grew up inheriting her parents’ retail company, PT Ada Sahitaguna. And now serving as the company’s commissioner, she oversees more than 2,000 employees and a chain of superstores (there are seven of them now and still growing in number) in Semarang, Central Java, her hometown, and in Bogor, West Java. Married to businessman Ricky Sulistyo, she asked her husband to join her in running and expanding the promising business.
Erika is the epitome of a modern-day Kartini. She believes in the importance of education, especially for women. “Women have to be well- educated, be it at home or at school, because I believe that through education, they can gain many experiences in life and broaden their points of view in society. In addition, education also instils self-confidence into women and enables their inner and outer beauty to shine,” explained Erika, who has a deep penchant for high-end fashion.
Running a successful business and rearing a child at the same time are the two things in life of which she is proud, and she always tries to look stylish and fresh-faced anytime, everywhere. “We often travel, especially to China, for our business. And whenever we travel, I always pay attention to the way I look,” she said, adding that dressing well is a form of good manners. “I try to match our looks— mine, my husband’s, and my son’s—with the city we visit. For instance, the things inside my suitcase when travelling to Hong Kong will be different from those when we visit England,” she admitted bashfully.
To Erika, fashion is about self-actualisation. “It’s a way to express ourselves. My style is girly, formal, and classy. I normally create a list of what to bring before we begin our family junket in that I know what to wear on each day we spend in a foreign country.” Besides comfortable clothes—a hairdryer, a hair-roller, and a hair-straightener are must-bring items, as Erika dislikes having a bad hair day when travelling.
Another list of items she can’t live without includes a pair of Stuart Weitzman boots, Chanel flats, and her big black Birkin bag—in which she throws whatever things she may need on a trip. An active and outgoing lady, Erika travels abroad almost every month and visits Jakarta nearly every weekend to attend functions and visit her family. “After a long week, I sometimes feel the need to go shopping and to refresh my mind. Shopping is an indulgence— it’s a treat for myself after a full week of work. On certain occasions, I ask my husband to go to Singapore to get a breath of fresh air, or to see what’s new in store,” added the woman, whose favourite destinations include London, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.
Having graduated from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and having studied the Mandarin language in Beijing, China, Erika is no stranger to international cultures. With such exposure, she has developed a sense of fashion that’s unique, daring, and yet classy at the same time. She would fly to Paris, Tokyo, or Milan—just to hunt for limited-edition items from her favourite brands. “I express my passion for fashion and the finer things in life through Instagram. And fortunately, my husband is very supportive of me. I update my outfit-of-the-day look every day with the help of my husband, who gets behind the lens to capture my flair.”
“All in all, I think photography has become his new hobby now—mostly taking pictures of me each morning in my outfit of the day,” she said with a laugh. Erika currently has more than 6,500 followers in her Instagram. When asked the secrets to maintaining her beauty, she answered, “Semarang is quite a laid-back city and has no traffic jam. I regularly call someone from the salon to do my manicure and pedicure, or to have my hair spa and body scrub at home.
After I gave birth to Reicher two years ago, I tried my best to get into shape again. I had experts come to my place to do traditional beauty treatments, and I had home salon services twice a day for 40 days to help me maintain my svelte figure. Now, I also have a personal trainer and a yogi—both help me to get the most out of my fitness routine at home, at least two to three times a week. These are my beauty secrets. Oh... and one more thing: luckily, I eat proportionately and try my best to avoid snacking,” she explained with a big smile.
A strong and independent woman who knows how to have a good time and treat herself well, Erika believes that women in Indonesia have made substantial progress in their family life and career. “There are so many superwomen these days. And if there’s one woman that I really look up to in life, and who fits the bill as a modern-day Kartini, that woman will be my mother-in-law, Lani Harjati.” “She’s a hard-working woman who knows how run her business well, and yet she still manages to find time for her family, especially for her grandson! A modern-day Kartini must have these great human qualities—she must have a strong will and intelligence, and must succeed in juggling time between work, leisure, and family.”
On success, she said: “To me, success is when we can make our dreams a reality without trying too hard, which means we must not act out of our self-interest at the expense of others. Success is when we can live our life to the fullest while constantly being happy and being grateful for what we have. I think, it’s also important to be kind to others and to develop self-confidence without being arrogant about our achievements. To all modern-day Kartinis out there, I’d say, ‘Work hard, but prioritise, as the most important thing in life is your family, which in my case are my husband and my child.” ￼