"Challenge Thy Limits"


Jovian Mandagie on taking chances…

I arrived at Bakso Monster (home of all things gigantic) a little too early for an interview with one of local fashion’s most talked about designers.

I admit I was more excited than usual for the meet up. It wasn’t my first time sitting down with the guy but Jovian Mandagie is a man of many talents.

He is no longer JUST a designer, but a restaurateur, wedding planner and an enterpriser too (how’s that for a resume?). So it’s definitely about time to unearth any kind of enthusiasm he has that drives him right from the get-go.

Jovian was rushing to our meeting from another appointment at the time and while waiting for him to arrive, I was amused by the playful elements that the restaurant presents itself to customers – FYI Bakso Monster is one of Jovian’s corporate ventures.

The large-sized menu doubles as a prop meant for taking pictures, diners are addressed as ‘Monsters’ (pun intended) and everything – to no surprise – was served in monstrous size.

Not long after, the man of the hour appeared and with him, he brought along interesting offerings.

“I’m actually excited to share with you my recent undertaking,” says Jovian while reaching into the paper bags that he brought along in search of something. A few second later, a box filled with pineapple tarts labeled ‘Ananas’ was displayed on the table.

“Wait, are you also selling cookies now?” I asked him, interested with the latest project he has up his sleeves.

​“I recently met this aunty and got a chance to sample her homemade tarts. It was so good that I decided to invest in her business,” he excitedly replies.

​“I did of course asked her if she would like to strengthen her business operations – take it to the next level – and she told me that she didn’t know much about creative marketing. Hence, I just grabbed the opportunity knowing that I could help. With enough funds and resources, we got a team and straight away worked on a personalised branding strategy for the cookies to better appeal to the market,” adds Jovian.

​Innovation and originality are elements worth upholding and the business savvy designer told me that he would never ignore the importance of getting involved in the creative process to achieve so when fronting any sort of ventures.

​“It makes or breaks a business and I pride myself for working on branding projects of my own. Take Bakso Monster for instance, the restaurant carries the word ‘monster’ for a reason, we try to make every component of the restaurant to follow the theme – from the size of the drinks to the size of the menu and even the size of the meatballs. At the end of the day, it’s all about creating an enjoyable experience,” shares Jovian.​

“By the way, I’m going to order us one round of our special Teh Ais – it’s really good.”

Bakso Monster is not Jovian’s first stint in the food and beverage industry. Previously he fronted another Indonesian restaurant called ‘Roa’, which serves popular dishes from Manado.

“But local diners had difficulties understanding what the restaurant had to offer and business was quite slow a few months in. Eventually in the end, it was pretty much back to the drawing board for me,” he says.

Jovian is not one to quit; he further added that a visit to Indonesia and having tried a bowl of Bakso bola tenis sparked the idea to create the eatery where our little soiree was hosted.

“I managed to come back with a better direction through a simple and straightforward menu at an affordable price point. I feel that our kitchen is more confident with the kind of food that we offer today,” he notes.

“In business, patience and determination is essential. It’s to ensure that you never give up easily.”

“You are also only as good as your team. The ability to respect people, regardless of age or position, is one trait that will benefit a person in the long run. I believe that a good leader never expects to be served.”

Clearly the designer has an entrepreneurial edge and is not afraid of steering multiple ships. To him, every opportunity has its unique potential and it is a matter of refining it.

However, one can’t help but to wonder what or who inspired him to be gutsy in a volatile world such as business.

“My mother is my biggest supporter and she is very career driven. One advice from her that I keep with me until today is that if I want to succeed, going into business – having a platform where you can exclusively put your mark on – is one way of doing so. With the kind of passion that I have towards my work, I think credit should definitely be given to her,” notes Jovian.

The 30 year-old is very much a mama’s boy and appreciates all the female figures that helped him face various obstacles.

​“Family is everything and my wife is my rock. One thing that I love most about Nina is that she’s protective. She’s also trailing into the business world – running Capello (beauty salon) and a kindergarten – and I think that’s amazing,” adds Jovian.

He let out a warm smile when I asked whether the duo will start a family anytime soon.

“We are definitely planning, and who knows maybe it’s within the next couple of years but for now we are blessed for having each other in our lives.”

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