Not only has Syahrini, more commonly referred as Princess Syahrini, led a radical fashion revival amongst Indonesian fashion mavens, she has also conceived several businesses, such as a chain of cake shops and a hijab and scarf fashion line all while juggling her career as a singer. And even with such a broad working portfolio, Syahrini still manages to balance her focus and time between both her careers as a business woman and as an entertainer.
Today, Syahrini has over 20 million followers on Instagram, which gives her a huge platform to connect with her fans. As one of the most popular celebrities, and with that kind of fame on social media, there will inevitably be criticism to deal with. But the social media queen also has her own way of dealing with social media negativity and trolls.
During a photo shoot with Indonesia Tatler for our Asia's Most Stylish 2018, Syahrini revealed about her entrepreneurial journey, her plan to hold a solo concert, her travelling bucket list, and great advice on handling social media that everyone should keep in mind.
First of all, how did your career begin as a singer?
I am a law graduate from Pakuan University Bogor, year of 2007. I was supposed to do a master’s degree in the Netherlands, but my album was already out at that time. Back then, during college, my hobby was singing, and I had the dream of having my face displayed in all the CD stores. I didn’t know anything about the world of singing—it was all based only on my hobby.
After I graduated with my law degree, I passed on my album to one of Indonesia’s record labels to be published. Apparently, the demand was pretty high for radio, so I went on a tour—my first ever tour with Ari Lasso and the Padi Band.
Can you tell us more about your culinary business?
Yes, Princess Cake is my first-ever culinary business that I never expected to have. The cake’s business specialty is a double cheese cake, with extra creamy cheese. The revenue is great—I didn’t expect it at all. In one day, I can sell 60 boxes from just one outlet, and that’s just a small example because we just opened another three outlets in Bandung. In total, we have seven stores and we’re planning to open more stores in Indonesia.
What about your fashion business? We heard that you are planning to launch a new hijab and scarf line.
Yes, it will be called Fatimah Syahrini, taken from my name. Recently, in Iceland, I already published a teaser and it can be seen on my Instagram. The scarf has my “SYR” logo printed on it. Just like with my perfume, we collaborated with Swarovski to make my crystal-embellished “SYR” logo.
From this entrepreneurial journey, what is the most important lesson you have learned?
Business world, entertainment world...Both are actually similar. But the difference is that the business world requires a lot of thinking, while singing is just entertaining. In the business world, our thoughts are drained because we have to create and think of something different from the rest.
We also need to be focused—there are no excuses to be lenient. In the entertainment world, we use more feelings. So they are two different things, but both require focus. No matter what you choose, you need to be able to divide your time and know your portion.
Is this your second career, or do you plan to make it a priority?
Both entertainment and business go side by side, simultaneously. Both have their own selling points that I need. When I’m in the entertainment world, I need my basics as a businesswoman. When I sign contracts with different clients—television, advertisements, everything—I need to be smart and understand everything because my general education is in law.
In the business world, being an entertainer also helps because the starter market in entertainment is needed for the starter market in business. So, I cannot leave any of them.
What is the most important thing in being a true entertainer?
As an artist and a true entertainer, being good at singing is not the most important thing. To sing well is a basic thing, but to be an entertainer, cheering up the audience, lifting the audience’s mood—that’s the job of a true entertainer.
If you sing well then just be in Indonesian Idol, so no need to be an off-air singer every day. I always try to lift my mood because it affects me and my team, so they don’t feel bored at work, especially in dealing with the day-to-day business.
What do you plan to do in the future in terms of your career?
After 10 years of learning, I had planned to hold a concert to celebrate 10 years—one decade—of entertaining, but the album is not done yet because there was trouble. It was supposed to finish this December, but it has been postponed until next year. So the plan was to make concerts in five countries, but there was trouble with my record label management. Hopefully next year the plan will be executed.
Are you expected to travel a lot as a singer?
I won’t be in Jakarta every weekend—I’ll always be in Surabaya or other cities. So if people ask about my revenue stream—how do I afford this and that—I think it’s normal because they don’t know how packed my everyday work is: some are exposed on social media and some are not. A lot of clients want their events to be private, therefore I won’t expose them.
Speaking of travelling, what is your favourite travelling experience so far?
Recently, I went to Iceland because I love the snow, and we don’t have snow here in Indonesia, unless in Papua New Guinea. I also just recovered from vocal cord surgery in LA during this year’s Lebaran, and the doctor suggested that I breathe fresh air every day.
So I asked my management for a two-week break for me to rest a little bit. These past eight months I’ve been working like crazy—almost once every two days I go on and off stage, whether it’s in Jakarta or out of town.
Where is the next travelling destination on your bucket list?
Iceland, checked. Next destination would be Alaska. Maybe at the end of this year I’ll go to St Moritz in Switzerland because I want to experience snow again—I really love the snow.
I get to explore my styles, too, during winter. I can wear long fur coats and boots. That’s more than in Jakarta because here it’s impossible to wear fur, long coats, or thick jackets.
Speaking of social media, we can say that you’re so popular with more than 20 million followers. How did you get that many followers?
I don’t know how I got that many followers, and I never expected it at all. I started using Instagram long before a lot of people started using it—since 2013 when there were no Instagram verification or Instastory and people still preferred using Twitter. My Twitter account with six million followers was hacked and I couldn’t retrieve it until now.
So I switched to Instagram, but I never paid attention to the number of followers—I just post stuff day by day of my excitement with my management, my family, and everything else.
Do you have any specific habits in running your social media?
My Instagram actually has a lot of pictures that are not captured using a professional camera. If like right now, then of course using a professional camera, but the rest just use a phone camera—it used to be Blackberry. Just raw: no edits and still low-quality pictures. Then I started educating my fans to use Instagram to stay updated with my activities. I think social media is very valuable, it is very beneficial and allows us to communicate with friends and people from overseas.
With that kind of fame, there must be some people who like and dislike you. How do you handle negativity, especially on social media?
For example, I posted something, and someone said there’s a hate comment. I never wanted to see it because when I’m in that zone, my energy becomes negative, and for what? My time is limited—I don’t have a lot of time for family or for myself, and everything is dedicated to work, photoshoots, evening events...I have no time to check hate or troll comments on social media.
That’s why I never see the comments and everything: I never touch or reply. If there’s a really mean comment, I turned my back on it, because as a pious Muslim I believe that if we respond to it with kindness then kindness will be returned to us, but if we respond to it with harshness then we will get harshness back. Hence, let them be--the cruel, the bully, the negatives, I just take the positive.