In 2011, Cissy DeLuca and Analisa Hightower co-founded Bersatu Designs, a social business that creates Bali-inspired jewelry in an effort to harness the skills of Indonesian women and offer them employment opportunities.
Here, Cissy DeLuca delves deeper into the business model and how it generates income for Indonesians, as well as her personal inspiration sources and creative rituals—which are endless in a place like Bali.
Four Questions with Cissy DeLuca
1. How did the idea for the business model come about?
Our business model was developed to accommodate the needs of our artisans, who are previously unemployed people that live in my neighborhood in Bali. They all have children and cannot commit to full-time jobs because of their responsibilities as parents and spouses. We provide them with the tools and materials so they can make the jewelry at their homes at their convenience (e.g. when the baby is napping or the kids are at school!). We usually meet once per week to distribute the materials, collect finished products and train them on how to make new products. The artisans are paid per piece on a schedule that is convenient for them.
I lead our product design and production efforts in Indonesia and my co-founder, Analisa Hightower, leads our marketing and distribution efforts in the US.
2. How did you decide to join this sector?
My career has always had a focus on international development and I have always loved collecting jewelry from around the world.
I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana after college, where I worked in public health and organized numerous projects focused on women’s empowerment. This experience taught me a lot about how to successfully mobilize small groups and push through unexpected barriers to achieve results. I have spent the past few years working in the microfinance sector in Asia, which is what brought me to this region of the world and has also helped familiarize me with small enterprise development.
I have always dreamed of starting a social enterprise, even if just a small one that improves the lives of a few people. The opportunity to start a jewelry company that provides income opportunities for economically disadvantaged people seemed to present itself when I met the women living in my neighborhood. It has been a fun experience to combine my passion for economic development and love of jewelry through Bersatu Designs.
3. How do you get your inspiration?
The biggest inspiration is definitely the satisfaction of our artisans with the income opportunities we have created for them. Keeping them busy is my number one goal and continually motivates me to create products that will appeal to our customers.
Other than a brief jewelry making stint in the 4th grade, I have absolutely zero experience with jewelry design! I am always looking for new product ideas in magazines, shops and from friends. Bali has an abundance of handicrafts and is an incredibly beautiful place, so it is easy to draw from my surroundings for new ideas.
4. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
It’s not hard to find ways to recharge when you live in Bali! I try to get out from behind my computer regularly and take advantage of where I live. I swim every day, surf sporadically and have started doing yoga podcasts for 30 minutes during lunch time (we’ll see how long that lasts!). I try to make a habit of always wearing something from Bersatu because I definitely feed off of the feedback from those around me and love when people share their ideas.