"My name is Susi Susanti. People say that I'm a tough, diligent, and strong woman when it comes to my principles. I like cycling, sewing and cooking. I was born in Blitar in 1977. Blitar is a charming town in East Java, known for its friendly people. Mostly, the people in Blitar are farmers, and the rest craft traditional musical instruments, like the jimbe.
“I come from a family of farmers. I'm the second of six siblings. I remember my childhood was so much fun; kids were not busy with gadgets like today, so we played traditional games outside in the yard with all the kids in the neighborhood. I also helped my parents on the farm after school and made homemade brown sugar, since we had limited resources.
“After graduating from high school, I worked for a shoe factory for six years, then my uncle brought me to Bali to help sell handicrafts. Those were difficult times in my life. Life felt so hard, and I used to sleep on the floor. But, in that time, I also met my husband. He was the son of one of my uncle’s clients. After getting married, we were blessed by God with one son and one daughter. Having children makes me happy. As people around here say, ‘marriage is not complete without children,’ so having children means everything to me. They give me the spirit to work hard and strive for a better life.
“I had a few shops that sold different kinds of crafts, but after a few months, I realized that duck sculptures were unique, funny, and charming. After that, I focused exclusively on duck sculptures. I learned a lot about it, from production to materials and the painting process, etc. I work with the help of my husband and two assistants from my family, and we also have 25 workers that work in their homes. I manage them myself according to their skills and talents.
“We use bamboo root for the ducks’ bodies and wood for the heads. We work with saws and simple manual tools. My husband designs the painting themes. The bamboo root that we use is from Java; there are not many bamboo trees in Bali, and the demand for these sculptures is high. During paddy harvest time, people in Java cannot provide the materials, since they are busy with harvesting the farms. Thanks to God, today I have the biggest shop in Ubud; even my previous boss now buys duck sculptures from me.”