In 2005, blogging was a quite an unfamiliar thing among people in Indonesia. But, having done blogging since 1999, Hanifa Ambadar saw a great opportunity from blogging, so she started Female Daily, leading beauty media in Indonesia with hundreds new registered members per day where people can find everything about beauty–from reviews, updates, and beauty news. We love how Hanifa Ambadar balances between work and family. A very family-oriented lady, yet wholeheartedly support entrepreneurship.
We visited Female Daily Network and luckily got a chance to interview Hanifa Ambadar. We’re so thrilled to feature Hanifa Ambadar on The It Girl to give you inspiring story of hard work behind the Female Daily Network. Read on to see how this family-oriented woman changed her blogging hobby into successful business and discover how being brave enough to create opportunities can lead to amazing things!
Full name: Hanifa Ambadar
Current position/company: CEO/Female Daily Network
Education: Bachelor of Science in Marketing – Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Master of Business Administration – Maryville University St. Louis
- What’s your first job out of college? Take us through your brief career bio.
I knew from early on that I wanted to get my master’s degree and started a family as soon as possible. So that’s what happened when I graduated from college; started my master’s and got married. My first job out of college was working as an Assistant Manager in training for GAP Inc. But then I got pregnant and had to find a job where standing all day was not part of the job description. I found myself in Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis where I was in charge for the community development and events. But after my son was born, working + studying + managing household proved to be too ambitious to manage so I quit and founded Female Daily not long after that.
- What’s the background of Female Daily? Why you create it?
Well, actually it was a coincidence. I lived in the USA and my friends in Indonesia often asked me what’s the new trend there. I usually emailed them one by one, which was quite tiring and there was no WhatsApp. So I created a blog to share those things. I had a blog for personal stuff, but I decided to create another blog about fashion & beauty. I used to have interest on web designing, so I loved to create my own template, changed the header, customized the template, and also created the contents all by myself.
It was started in 2005, and then in 2007 blog became a powerful marketing media. Then I said to myself that Indonesia will be following the trends in the next few years. So how do i make this into more professional? Since I wanted this to be a mediaor fashion and beauty industry. So, I found my partner Affi who was working at MAC Cosmetics, and also another friend Dhisti who used to be an Editor at Femina and Dewi magazine (Indonesian Fashion Magazine) and was working in fashion industry in New York City. So, people started this are people who were really passionate on this field.
- That time when you started blogging, it wasn’t really booming in Indonesia. So who read Female Daily?
At that time I didn’t pay much attention on the statistics, and didn’t understand Google Analytics. I don’t think it was exist back then? But, when the forum opened for the first time, there were fifty people registered in one day. It was huge for me. And after the forum was opened, the readership grew rapidly. People who used to just read articles, or make comments, can now now create their own topic and make a discussion.
At the end of 2007, we had client our first clients who wanted to advertise. It was big clients like XL, Lenovo, and HP. I was thinking like, If i could earn money from something I manage on the sideline, I’m sure it would be better if I take this seriously. So I went home to Indonesia for food in 2009 with a plan to expand Female Daily. I opened the office, we gathered all the money we got from advertisers before, created PT (perseroan terbatas), hired someone to handle sales. Some media like to make it look like it’s an overnight thing, where in fact it’s not.
Anyway, now who read Female Daily is Indonesian women from age 18 – 40, mostly 25 – 35, professionals, young mommies and 70% of them live in Jakarta.
- Do you have any budgeting tips for startups?
Obviously, we have to be very frugal. Female Daily first office was very tiny, it only fit for three desks. When the rain came, we had to prepare for flood. The furnitures were bought from second hand shops in Manggarai. We couldn’t afford laptops for employees, so they had to bring their own laptop and we couldn’t give insurance to them. Luckily, there were so many people who helped us. For example, there was a forum member who was a graphic designer helped us to create logo and create the layout. There were a lot of mutual cooperation projects in the beginning, and so many people involved to help us.
In the beginning we could only offer a minimum salary for the people we hired. So we focused on sales, and thought of the many ways to make money through the blog, because if it didn’t make money, we couldn’t pay our rent and salary. And it doesn’t mean that when the sales target is achieved, we can use the money for shopping. We have to make expenses projection for the next few months.
- What do you see Female Daily Network in five years later?
Digital industry is a fast moving world, there’s always new technology, new competitors, new business model, and products that suddenly no longer relevant anymore to our everyday life because consumer behavior changes quickly online. Female Daily is very different now since the day it was born, we shifted direction quite a few times, we canceled new product launch and we set a new goal because we need to keep up with the upcoming trend and try our best to still be relevant and ahead of others. I can never project what’s going to happen in 5 years time. We just have to focus on month-to-month growth and be ready to adapt and adjust. Business model can change but our vision and purpose stay the same. It is to be the company that best understands women, empower women and connect women to each other. And we are starting with beauty. I hope in 5 years time, we can be a big part of Indonesian women’s daily life at every stage of their life.
- You created blog since 1999 until now, did you foresee blogging will be a next big thing, so you create a blog? Or blogging has been your passion?
Writing has always been my hobby since elementary school so naturally when I found out about online journal a.k.a blog I registered right away. I started without thinking what the future would be for blog but I paid attention on how it evolved over the years. In 2005, I noticed more blogs were becoming niche and specific according to what interest the owner the most. So there were culinary blog, photography blog, gadget blog, fashion, beauty, interior design and everything. And then not long after that, brands started to acknowledge the existence of bloggers and how powerful they can be. Bloggers got sent press invites and products, sat at the front row, offered trip and later on, collaboration with brands to create limited edition products. I figured this is gonna happen to in Indonesia in a few years time. So I gave the blog a makeover to make it more professional, invited my friends to contribute in writing so there were more contents, found Affi, my partner and launched the forum discussion. I didn’t want the blog to be about me, me, me, I wanted it to grow into a prominent media player and a sustainable business, so that’s why it was becoming less and less about myself as I focus more on the business side.
- What lessons you have learned as entrepreneur?
A lot! But what I want other aspiring entrepreneurs to know is, nothing is instant! You have to appreciate the process, willing to roll up your sleeves and work hard day in and out and understand that it will be a roller coaster ride, so buckle up and enjoy the ride. Also I can’t emphasize enough on how important it is to sharpen our ability to focus on the important things. And last one; always invest in yourself and be willing to lift others as you climb up your way to success. I found entrepreneurship is not about what we can get out of it, but what we can contribute to others and the world by being one.
- Do you have any advices for girls who wants to be successful at blogging?
The obvious would be: good writing, nice layout, quality pictures, consistent. I think that’s good enough for a start, and then you have to think about building your authority. Pick a niche that most dear to your heart to differentiate yourself from other bloggers and build your knowledge around that niche topic to gain more credibility. Blog is interesting because of the human voice behind every post, so show them your authentic self and your emotional side. A blog is a very powerful tool so be careful with the message that you send to the world.
- Being an entrepreneur, a mommy, a wife, must be super busy. How do you manage & balance your working & personal time?
I try to integrate professional and personal life as seamlessly as possible and being an entrepreneur where I get to pick where the office is located gives a huge benefit. My office, my house, my husband’s office, the kids’ school are not that far apart so logistic-wise I have it taken care of. I have a great support system with families live close by and willing to help whenever needed. I’m very picky with my time, who I meet and where I meet. I reject so many interviews, unnecessary meetings, speaking at conferences and even TV appearances so I don’t get distracted from what it’s truly important. (But I support female entrepreneurship wholeheartedly so that’s why I’m happy to support The It Girl even though it took me two months to reply *so sorryyy*). Outside of time spent for work, it’s always time for family that I rarely do things like lunch or dinner with friends. But the people I meet through work are becoming my friends as well so that’s why it’s becoming a blur between professional and personal world which I see it as a good thing :).
- What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career and how you overcome it?
Closing three websites in January 2014 and changing the business direction was tough even though we believed it was beneficial for the business and would move us forward. The challenge was how to make the rest of the team saw it in the same way we did and not looked at it as a failure and how to make them comfortable with the changes. We overcame it by showing transparency, Q&A session where they can ask about anything, giving them understanding on the Why, the Opportunity, the How and What to expect in the coming months. We celebrated the little things that show that this transformation is indeed a good thing, for example like an increase in traffic, compliments from members, clients that kept coming back and finally an series A investment that boost everyone’s confidence.
- Does your educational background apply to your career? If not, how did you gain the needed skills?
Yes. The two majors I studied and the things I’m doing now are very related. Although maybe I don’t remember much of it I believe education and pursuing a higher degree has given me benefits way more than the degree itself. Outside of subject related I learned more about time management, problem solving, organizational skill, writing skill, how to think more critically and analytically. It gave me experiences to work with people from different backgrounds, familiarized myself with project management and the pressure and the deadlines that come with it.
College and grad school has also challenged me and humbled me in so many ways. It forced me to learn and to realize that I’m nothing compare to these other experienced people from around the world. It has given me the drive to be better, to prepare for competition and to develop mental toughness. School is life changing for me and it has shaped me and prepared me better for this entrepreneurial journey. I am a big believer in formal education, but I also believe that education does not stop there. We all should aim to be a lifelong learner.
To keep up with today’s business world I read books, articles and learned from my mentors.
- What is your biggest accomplishment so far?
The fact that I’m living my dream 🙂.