His concerns about the fate of batik, made Purwanto dedicate himself entirely to batik making.
Pekalongan is known as the city of batik. It was in this city that Slamet Purwanto was born. In 2004, the man who was called Purwanto decided to wander to Jakarta. “I go with the flow of urbanization to seek my fortune,” he explained. Unfortunately, the goddess of Fortune had not sided with him. Without qualifications, only holding a junior high school diploma, what work could he get? So Purwanto tried to make a living by all means. He had been a compact disc seller, construction worker, and he even joined the project to build toll roads.
Finally, Purwanto started a jeans alteration service. He acquired the skill of sewing while he was working at a garment manufacturer in Pekalongan. Purwanto’s targeted area when offering alteration services was Kedoya and surrounding areas, in West Jakarta. While traveling around those areas, Purwanto met someone from Rumah Belajar Duri Kepa who was giving information about Rumah Belajar as well as looking for students. “I immediately asked if I could still be a student?” Purwanto recounted. Apparently the answer he received was very comforting. It did not take long until Purwanto officially became a student in Rumah Belajar Duri Kepa managed by Yayasan Cinta Anak Bangsa (YCAB). “I took Package C, straight to the third year, because I had been through high school until the second year,” he said.
Rumah Belajar was like a door that opened up many opportunities for Purwanto. After passing Package C, thanks to YCAB’s recommendation, Purwanto participated as a management trainee at a fashion company, Sophie Paris, working in the production department. After just a month and a half working at Sophie Paris, YCAB offered him to be a sewing course trainer in Rumah Belajar Duri Kepa. Initially, Purwanto hesitated to accept the offer. Firstly, he felt that his qualifications were not enough to teach others. Secondly, he was already working. “But I finally accepted YCAB’s offer to open a sewing course in Rumah Belajar Duri Kepa. I felt challenged,” said the man who was born on December 10, 1985 enthusiastically. He also became a faculty member in Rumah Belajar Duri Kepa. “Originally I was in charge as a teacher, but then I was also responsible for production,” Purwanto said.
While enjoying his days as a teacher, YCAB returned and gave him a new offer, one he could not resist. This time the work was in Pekalongan, his hometown. “By the end of 2014, I was offered to run Batik House (Rumah Batik). Its name was Rumah Batik Tower Bersama Infrastructure or TBIG Pekalongan,” Purwanto said. The job offer to work in his hometown didn’t go to waste. He went on home. Now, the first child of the four siblings of Sahrudin and Gutin is responsible for Rumah Batik TBIG, in Wiradesa Village, Pekalongan.
Rumah Batik TBIG
Rumah Batik TBIG (TBIG Batik House) is a place to build up batik craftsmanship, as well as to provide education for young children who are expected to become the next generation of batik craftsmen. Lessons given are batik making and creating a variety of products from batik cloth. Of course it is very appropriate to establish Rumah Batik in Pekalongan, considering its history as one of several batik centers in Java Island.
Because the target is young people, Purwanto socializes the activities in Rumah Belajar TBIG to children from boarding schools and orphanages. He wants batik skills to be mastered by the younger generation. According to Purwanto, regeneration of batik craftsmen in Pekalongan is not so good, because young people tend to choose to work in other fields. “So, my first task is to do mapping and find students as well as partners or trainers,” said Purwanto.
During socialization to the community and batik entrepreneurs about the activities in Rumah Batik TBIG, Purwanto often experienced rejection and even underestimated, not infrequently, that those who looked down on him were those who were already in the business.
“Once I invited a batik entrepreneur in Pekalongan to conduct batik training. He even questioned, ‘what is the activity for?’” he said. However, there had never been a word of surrender in Purwanto’s dictionary. “I got even more excited,” he said firmly. “Many people can only get passionate when batik is claimed as another country’s national heritage. Though they don’t necessarily know how to make it. They also don’t necessarily know and understand the life of the craftsmen. They are angry but don’t pay attention to batik. It is pointless,” explained Purwanto. As a son of Pekalongan, his love for batik, which has ancestral heritage makes the spirit of Purwanto to develop Rumah Batik always blazing. “I feel responsible for this valuable piece of art.”
Many people can only get passionate when batik is claimed as another country’s national heritage. Though they don’t necessarily know how to make it. They also don’t necessarily know and understand the life of the craftsmen. They are angry but don’t pay attention to batik. It is pointless.
From Purwanto’s observation, hand-made batik’s demand has begun to diminish, because it is replaced by textile with batik motifs called printed batik. Therefore, he and his team in Rumah Belajar TBIG are re-energizing the manufacturing of natural batik dye materials from plants and the management of more environmentally friendly waste. He does not want batik products to bring only material benefits to the producers, but they also must provide benefits to nature. “Now, I’m trying to develop an educational tour program about natural dyes and waste management,” says Purwanto enthusiastically. In addition, the daily task of Purwanto is to foster and accompany around 50 children aged 13-25 years.
“Now the task entrusted to me has increased, that is to market the batik of students’ work, although they are also equipped with the basic knowledge about entrepreneurship,” he continued. “Sharing experiences and motivating them is also my duty. When students can produce beautiful works, then the work is sold, my happiness cannot be described with words,” Purwanto explained.
Being a part of YCAB is an extraordinary experience for Purwanto. “I work with great people in a great institution. I want to be like the people at YCAB, who do everything from the heart, and so what they do is useful to the society. At least what I’m doing here can be a provision in the hereafter,” he concludes.