As vacationer circulate stops, Bali’s craftsmen wrestle to market their work on-line

BALI: It had been weeks since a buyer final stepped inside Safira Klau Gallery, a small artwork and furnishings store within the Kerobokan space of Bali, Indonesia. 

The realm was once buzzing with vacationers and inside designers from all around the world trying to refurbish their flats, homes and villas, or to purchase statues and small ornaments to brighten their properties.

However for the reason that pandemic, the realm resembled a ghost city with only a few automobiles passing the small, winding highway, not to mention stopping to buy.

Gallery proprietor Vincen Klau stated final yr he may make a gross revenue of between 40 million rupiah and 70 million rupiah (US$2,669 and US$4,670) a month promoting chairs, eating tables, wall decorations and small statuettes – carved within the rustic and summary type of Japanese Indonesian wooden artwork.

“Now, it’s quieter than my quiet months,” he instructed CNA.

Vincen Klau in entrance of his workshop and gallery in Kerobokan, Bali, Indonesia. (Photograph: Amilia Rosa) 

Klau stated he would rely himself fortunate if he may get 15 million rupiah a month, which is barely sufficient to pay hire for his retailer and home, wage for his worker and numerous payments.

The store is chock-full of artworks he has not been capable of promote in months, gathering mud and occupying virtually each inch of the tiny property, right down to the shop’s parking house.

A few of his unsold items, he stated, have been presupposed to be for a purchaser from Java who had abruptly cancelled his order.

READ: 5 Bali eating places widespread with vacationers and the way they’re faring throughout COVID-19   

“My essential shoppers are people who find themselves constructing or renovating their villas. Now, all building and renovation initiatives had stopped,” he stated.

Throughout Kerobokan, many galleries that might not afford to pay the payments needed to shut their doorways briefly and Klau frightened that his retailer may very well be subsequent.

Not wanting his retailer to go bust, Klau – a brief, muscular man in his fifties who till just lately didn’t have an e mail handle – began the gallery’s Instagram account in late June.

However as a consequence of his unfamiliarity with the world of social media, his account has solely attracted 5 followers as of mid-September.

The account was barely maintained with the most recent submit courting again to Jun 24 and the vast majority of the photographs have been amateurishly shot, depicting a cluster of random items with no clear focus.

Practically all the posts had no caption and after they did, the captions merely learn “masks” or “Timorese statuettes”.

Klau stated that he doesn’t perceive how social media works. Because of this, there has not been many curious potential clients liking or leaving a touch upon his Instagram posts, not to mention expressing pursuits in shopping for.

The gallery proprietor is just not the one one combating on-line advertising and marketing in Bali. Too used to walk-ins, the craftsmen discover their supply of revenue drying up in current months. 

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A girl weaving an providing as she waits for clients on the Sukawati Artwork Market, Bali, Indonesia. (Photograph: Nivell Rayda) 

The resort island, which economic system is nearly completely reliant on tourism, has seen 59 per cent drop within the variety of vacationers within the first half of the yr, in accordance with the Indonesian Statistics Company.

When the pandemic hit Indonesia in March, the variety of new vacationers arriving to Bali was decreased to virtually zero.

It rebounded when Bali eased restrictions for home vacationers on Jun 31 however the variety of arrivals in July was a mere 11 per cent in comparison with the identical interval final yr.   

With the central authorities suspending its visa-free and visa-on-arrival insurance policies for worldwide travellers, companies equivalent to craft workshops that cater primarily to foreigners take the worst hit.   


Lots of the artisans who’re reluctant to promote on-line are held again by their lack of publicity to know-how and social media.

“I don’t perceive know-how,” stated Made Ariani. 

For the final 15 years, she has been promoting wood bins and souvenirs on the Sukawati Artwork Market – a half-hour drive from provincial capital Denpasar.

“My kids perceive know-how higher than me, however they don’t have the time to assist me. My daughter is already working and my son remains to be too little,” she stated. 

READ: Staycations and weekend getaways – Can home journey spark a revival of Southeast Asia’s tourism business?

Ariani stated her essential shoppers are memento outlets in vacationer areas like Kuta and Denpasar. Earlier than the pandemic, they might order as much as 500 souvenirs from her in a single transaction.

“However they’ve all closed,” she stated, including that she now depends on the only a few clients and locals who come to the artwork market.

Wayan Cedit, 37, additionally expressed little curiosity in promoting his wooden craft on-line.

“I don’t have Wi-Fi,” he instructed CNA with amusing.

“(Promoting on-line) is just too sophisticated. Even my buddies who do (promote on-line) stated it’s sophisticated.”

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Wayan Cedit, in his small gallery on the Sukawati Artwork Market in Bali, Indonesia. (Photograph: Amilia Rosa) 

Amongst his worries is coping with fussy clients on-line.

“We promote handmade items. We will’t make two merchandise that are precisely alike. Prospects shall be disenchanted in the event that they get a product which is totally different from the photographs. They may need their a reimbursement. And that occurred to my buddies,” he stated.

“(Promoting on-line) is simply too troublesome. It’s not like coping with actual individuals. Prospects can see and really feel the merchandise in particular person. You possibly can’t try this on-line.”

Cedit stated he used to make a gross revenue of 70 million to 100 million rupiah a month and will make use of as much as 15 freelance staff at his workshop.

“Now, it’s nearly zero,” he stated, including that his workshop had not produced something in months and his freelance staff have now grow to be farmers.

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A girl making use of the ending coat on a statue on the Sukawati Artwork Market in Bali, Indonesia. (Photograph: Amilia Rosa)  

Of the 68,000 small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) registered in Bali, solely a handful have social media accounts. “The proportion could be very small,” chief of the Bali Cooperative, Small and Medium Enterprises Company Wayan Mardiana instructed CNA.         

The Bali authorities has skilled a variety of SMEs promoting meals and drinks to go surfing, with the assistance of ride-hailing firms GoJek and Seize, however has not been capable of do the identical for handicraft SMEs.

“In contrast to meals, their market is home and international vacationers, not native Balinese,” he stated.

“There are numerous artisans who usually are not conversant in know-how. They don’t seem to be conversant in social media. We’ve to vary their mindsets and we are attempting to give you a coaching programme to allow them to promote their items on-line,” Mardiana added. 

READ: New COVID-19 instances knock hopes of reviving Southeast Asia’s vacation hotspots


The challenges cited by the artisans have been primarily simply excuses, stated a workshop proprietor who has tasted success in utilizing Instagram to advertise his work. 

I Wayan Gede Mancanegara, who runs the Ganesha Artwork Gallery, stated most of the enterprise operators claimed they steer clear of social media as a result of they don’t want their work to be copied. 

“Some stated their Web connection is just not good. However these are all excuses. They only don’t wish to be taught new issues,” the 32-year-old stated. 

His workshop in Kedisan village – a 20-minute drive from the closest city Ubud – is among the many few locations which are nonetheless busy engaged on wooden artwork orders and commissions. The fourth era artisan has diversified his product line to supply smooth and fashionable designs alongside conventional Balinese type wooden arts.

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Statues on show contained in the Ganesha Artwork Gallery in Kedisan village, Bali, Indonesia. (Photograph: Nivell Rayda)  

On a current Friday, the workshop was abuzz with the sound of hammers and chisels as 4 staff carved a wood signal for a restaurant, an ornately embellished door and a statue of the legendary hen Garuda, the official image of Indonesia.

Mendacity on the ground at one nook of the hilltop workshop was a soon-to-be completed title plate, intricately carved for a high-profile politician from Jakarta.

The store has solely been round for lower than two years, however it has already attracted the eye of President Joko Widodo, Bali governor I Wayan Koster and a variety of high-ranking officers and politicians.

It additionally attracted worldwide clienteles, with orders coming in from america, Germany and Singapore.

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I Wayan Gede Mancanegara, proprietor of Ganesha Artwork Gallery in Kedisan village, Bali, Indonesia. (Photograph: Nivell Rayda) 

A part of the explanation for his success was his savviness to advertise his work on Instagram, arrange as quickly as he opened his enterprise.

“I felt that having a social media presence was important. It’s particularly related throughout corona the place everybody couldn’t or wouldn’t exit or journey,” he instructed CNA.

Mancanegara stated he tried to add at the least one submit or story a day to maintain his 2,300 followers engaged.

He added that 90 per cent of his gross sales for the reason that pandemic hit could be attributed to his social media efforts. Earlier than, 40 per cent of his revenue got here from locals, vacationers and expatriates visiting his workshop in particular person.

However that doesn’t imply enterprise has not slowed down. A drop in walk-in clients and a devastated international economic system that daunts individuals from spending on arts and crafts have brought about his income to drop by 30 to 40 per cent. 


Mancanegara is making an attempt to persuade artisans from his village to at the least strive promoting and selling their work on-line.

“I instructed them,‘There are not any clients coming to our workshops now. Why don’t you promote your work on social media? I obtained many orders from social media. Why don’t you ask your child to arrange for you?’” he stated.

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Wooden artwork displayed in the Ganesha Artwork Gallery in Kedisan village, Bali, Indonesia. (Photograph: Nivell Rayda)  

He has helped three neighbouring workshops to arrange their very own social media accounts, apart from sharing ideas and tips on get their audiences engaged.

“I additionally arrange a unique (Instagram) account for many who don’t know begin social media.  Some don’t have galleries of their very own. So I act because the account’s administrator and promote their work,” he stated.

Solely two individuals have agreed to be featured on the collective account thus far. “However I need all the workshops in my village to hitch to allow them to realise the ability of social media,” Mancanegara stated.

The potential attain of social media, for example, shouldn’t be underestimated, particularly when one has high quality items to supply. “For those who ship high quality merchandise they’ll order extra, advocate us to their buddies or tag us on their very own social media accounts,” he stated.

Mancanegara is just not afraid that the man artisans may sooner or later be his opponents. 

“I need individuals in my village to have the ability to have some revenue. For each workshop that may keep afloat throughout this tough time, there shall be a dozen artisans who can proceed to be productive,” he stated. 

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