The Yak goes one on one with…
…Shalini Gopalan, a woman of great creativity, focus and non-stop entrepreneurship, who got her start at J. Walter Thomson. We chat to her about her life and her business path…
Shalini, first things first, you are originally from…?
India, but moved here in my twenties and made Indonesia my home.
Briefly, can you tell us a bit about your mother and aunts?
I hail from Kerala in India and grew up in a matrilineal society in which ancestral descent is traced through maternal instead of paternal lines. This means that women inherit family property, and children belong to their mother’s lineages. In India, this practice is followed by the Nairs of Kerala, where I come from.
Select some of your proudest moments to share with us.
We started Indonesia’s first loyalty & CRM company way back in 2001, helping many clients get access to technology and tools to build better and more profitable relations with their customers or channel partners. Our partners out of North America fully acquired the agency in 2013.
Another proud moment, more personal and a more of a first foray into the land of stones and gems, was when jewelry made of semi-precious stones was cut and crafted in the prisons of Nusakambangan, pieces of which were then exhibited in International Jewelry Fairs around the world.
You are currently running two companies day-to-day – Loyalty Hub and ALINI Jewelry – are you great at delegating? How do you manage?
I have been in Marketing Communications all my professional life and find it gratifying to use my years of experience to guide, train and mentor clients, agencies and startups on how to build and engage with their customers, because I am a firm believer that better relationships always build better businesses. I work as an extension of their team, which makes it more productive and time efficient.
Parallel to that, having spent all my working life in creative, branding, marketing and communications – which includes a degree in Fine Arts – I founded ALINI, our line of Interchangeable jewelry, a natural progression using the same skills that I draw on to build a true lifestyle brand, one that is sustainable by design and celebrates artisans in Indonesia.
Let’s touch more on that jewelry line, ALINI. It has a special place in your heart – can you tell us the backstory. What or who inspired you?
In India, jewelry has not only traditional and aesthetic value, but is also considered an investment and a source of security.
So it may not be a surprise to hear that on the 28th day after I was born, together with my naming ceremony, my ears were pierced and my maternal grandmother put on a pair of tiny, gold, handcrafted hoops which I wore all through school and college…Never taking them off, not even once.
As I got older and needed to go to special functions or weddings, my mother would make me wear traditional earrings, which were gorgeous but only meant for special occasions and would be kept in a safe and only come out for such occasions. I always thought how wonderful it would be if I could just transform my baby hoops to match these occasions and outfits so they could be used regularly. Voila! That fueled my early thoughts about creating a pair of ‘go-to- earrings’, which were of good quality yet affordable, practical, stylish…ones that easily matched different occasions.
ALINI’s growth over the years wasn’t continuous. Can you tell us why, and what has brought this creative platform back to life?
My first foray into jewelry designing and manufacturing was in 2003,when I got involved in a rehabilitation project in the Nusakambangan prisons where inmates were trained in skills of cutting and polishing Obsidian & Agate stones, which we designed into beautiful jewelry pieces. The plan was to train them in a skill and for them to be productive.
We set up and ran the project as agreed for around 10 years, after which I decided to step out so as to focus on the agency and our boys. Once the boys graduated and left for further studies, and the agency was fully acquired by our partners, I started toying with the idea of building a jewelry brand. Then COVID happened!
What sets ALINI apart from the rest of the multiple jewelry brands available online and in retail?
For ALINI it is important that women who want to put on a pair of earrings don’t need to worry about taking them off. So this was the inspiration behind ALINI Huggies
ALINI Huggies are made to ‘join’ women in all that they do. Suitable to wear them on their walks, when dropping the kids off to school, or at meetings or when socialising with friends, totally supporting their possibly changeable lifestyle, ready to be worn day to day, or to a graduation, a dinner, or a special event.
ALINI wants to become a part of each woman’s unique story, and be the first pieces packed for a vacation and the last thing that a woman has to think about.
Our pieces are designed to be easy & effortless, but also chic & feminine. Trendy yet timeless by using real metals and an obsession with quality to ensure each piece lasts.
ALINI’s inspiration is the women who wears it, bringing it into her own style and appreciating the hand-crafted workmanship of the artisans of Java & Bali.
Who, in your eyes, are ALINI’s clients? And why do you think they would choose your brand over others?
Our pieces are very affordable for jewelry that is made of pure silver and gold. What sets us apart is, that while these classic pieces have a high quality finish and great attention to detail, their interchangeability makes them unique. ALINI supports today’s woman, who needs to have a go-to piece for everyday wear. What we added was the novelty of being able to transform it easily to match different looks, colours, outfits and occasions. ALINI also makes great presents as they are made in Indonesia, are affordable, easy to pack and are a novel gift for the receiver. More importantly, ALINI always fits!
What price points are we talking when investing, or purchasing ALINI?
Our pieces are very affordable for Sterling silver with 24K gold plating and hand-cut Obsidian, crystals or quartz. Our current prices start as low as Rp.350’000 and go up to around Rp.1’450’000 for a pair of signature Gold Pave Huggies.
That is a great price point, ALINI is definitely going on my Christmas present and birthday gift list!! Thank you so much for your time, and more importantly, for creating a brand of such beauty, that is also versatile, collectable and affordable!
For Representative & Stockist enquiries please go via IG or website.