“We are two sisters born in Yogyakarta. We are 3 years apart; Paulin was born in 1991 and Callixtine, or Calli, was born in 1994. Yogyakarta is a city famous for its natural, historical, and culinary attractions. Yogyakarta has also become a destination for students to continue their education, earning it the nickname ‘city of students.’
“We grew up together, raised by our mom, Maria Magdalena Yuliati. She is a single parent and provided for us by selling donuts and green bean cakes. We are very proud of her. She is a strong woman who gives a lot of life lessons and inspiration. Throughout our childhood, we were very close and we loved playing together, reading together, cycling, and drawing. We had lots of fun, and we can say we had a happy childhood.”
As a child, Paulin already had many talents. She liked to draw and sing, almost always winning competitions. Paulin has always been the most adventurous since childhood. Calli tended to be more shy during childhood, so she spent more time at home, drawing and reading books. Paulin studied architecture at Dutawaca Christian University of Yogyakarta. Calli studied French literature at Gadjah Mada University.
Says Paulin, “After graduating from college, I became the backbone of the family. I studied for two years to pursue a professional career in architecture at a design consulting firm in Bali and Yogyakarta.” However, Paulin felt that she lacked the time to develop her crafting skills and research independently. So in 2015, she decided to leave her professional career and pursue independent literacy research in remote villages in Indonesia. At that time, Paulin invited Calli to work together.
Calli says, “After graduating, I decided to return to school at the Yogyakarta Art Institute. I only stayed for one semester, and then I decided to work in Bali. I changed jobs five times, from writer to designer, administrator, shopkeeper, and translator.”
“Collaboration is the best method for developing talent,” says Paulin. “I learned to bind books and turn recycled materials into handmade stationery from my friends, and I developed this technique myself based on the need for innovation and function.”
“We like Indonesia because a lot can still be learned from it,” remarks Calli. “I am amazed by Indonesia’s local wisdom. We live as cheaply as possible because our mom works alone. We rely on ourselves for almost all of our needs. We once tried to open a children’s library when Paulin was 10 years old and I was 7. Many friends often came to borrow books, and we read together. It's nice to have lots of friends.
“In 2018, we visited the traditional village of Senaru in North Lombok, where Paulin has been helping since 2013. We took the time to climb Mount Rinjani. This was my first experience climbing a mountain alone, and we were just two women. Paulin had to encourage me to keep going as I became discouraged. That's when we understood that satisfaction and happiness are only enough when based on strength and effort. We managed to achieve it together.
“The hardest part of our craft is exploring additional features, such as extra pockets, pen holders, and lock systems to customize the design of our work. We also use recycled materials, especially paper. We focus on trying to be consistent with our zero-waste production system. Our materials include recycled paper, canvas, batik cloth, eco-print fabric, cow leather, and goat skin. These materials are very easy to get in this city, and some have already been processed by other craftsmen, so we seek collaborative relationships with them.
“We offer training for anyone who has free time and wants to work in Palka. Nearly 70% of our production waste is paper. We do not dispose of our paper waste, but rather process it again. Other waste includes plastic packaging, which we collect for making eco bricks.
“I get inspiration from our friends and from our own journaling needs. We work with our cousins, moms, aunts, and neighbors. In total we are eight women and two men.
“Part of the proceeds from the sale of our work goes to literacy and participatory research for indigenous peoples in Indonesia. In recent years, we have become active in Adat Senaru Village, North Lombok. We collect books for children there. Besides that, we have partnered with a local group to archive the knowledge of the traditional Senaru villagers.
“The more we increase production, the more the women in our area will continue to prosper. We will also be able to increase the reach of our literacy and research trips.”