Exobrooch: IPMC Helping Fashion Startup Protect Its Innovative Designs

Few cities deserve the “melting pot” moniker quite like Jakarta. The Indonesian capital’s 10.7 million inhabitants, hailing from across the Indonesian archipelago and further afield, have made Jakarta a kaleidoscope of cultures, ideas and traditions. All these are reflected in the city’s thriving handicrafts industry and in its many craft fairs. Here visitors can see a range of traditional skills on display, from the distinctive patterns of batik clothing to Java’s iconic wayang puppetry.

Bunga founded Exobrooch after demand for her eye-catching brooches increased
Bunga founded Exobrooch after demand for her eye-catching brooches increased (Image: Exobrooch)

Fashion inspired by Jakarta’s handicrafts

In 2012, Ika Bunga Maharani – known to her friends as Bunga – was working as an architect when she decided to visit the Jakarta International Handicraft Trade Fair. At the time, she had no idea this event would become a pivotal moment in her career. But as she walked down the aisles lined with exquisite handcrafted goods, she envisioned a unique fusion of architectural elements and intricate craftsmanship that reflected Jakarta’s diverse crafting heritage.

Inspired by her visit, Bunga began creating brooches. It started as a personal project – a way to combine her passions for fashion, architecture and design. However, once she displayed her creations on her desk at work, colleagues began asking if they could buy her brooches. What began as a fun hobby has quickly grown into a small but successful business. Bunga called it “Exobrooch” – a portmanteau of “exotic brooch” – and was soon making not just brooches but clothing, too.

An expanding line of products

Bunga (center) showcasing some of her creations.
(Image: Exobrooch)

Exobrooch debuted in 2015 a collection of mukenas, traditional prayer dresses often worn by Muslims in Southeast Asia. By introducing multifunctional dresses and an innovative geometric design, Exobrooch has increased the popularity of mukenas among young, active and fashion-conscious Muslim women. To make these unique mukenas accessible to a broader audience, Exobrooch strategically collaborated with prominent e-commerce platforms -- including Zalora, Hijup, Hijabenka, JD.id, Tokopedia, and Blibli. Exobrooch has continued to break new ground in the world of modest fashion with the release of its Exobebe Kids Collection.

As Exobrooch’s product line expands, the business is preparing a well-defined business strategy to give clear direction and coherence to the brand’s growth. Bunga is also keen to expand her own skillset, including a broader understanding of the fashion industry. In 2016–2017, she enrolled in a course on fashion business, focusing on developing fashion brands, and has since participated in a busy schedule of on-the-job learning and training courses.

Discovering the IPMC

In 2018, Bunga became aware of intellectual property (IP) protection and its importance for commercial success. She registered the name “Exobrooch” and the company’s logo as trademarks with the Indonesian Directorate General of Intellectual Property (DGIP), but admits that she knew little else about IP. “At that time, there wasn’t much local government outreach regarding IP,” she says. “But over the past few years there have been numerous awareness programs initiated by both SMESCO Indonesia [a public service agency supporting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)] and local governments.”

Her desire to know more about IP led her to discover WIPO’s Intellectual Property Management Clinic (IPMC) while searching online. The IPMC is a four-to-six-month program supporting innovative SMEs to develop IP strategies that best showcase their business plans and portfolios of intangible assets. Participating companies are shown how to better manage, use and leverage their IP through personalized, one-on-one mentorship, expert advice and training. In June 2023, Bunga, together with two Exobrooch colleagues, enrolled in an IPMC program for Indonesian SMEs and startups organized jointly by the WIPO Singapore Office, WIPO’s IP for Business Division, DGIP, Bank Indonesia and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council.

Industrial designs

Image: Exobrooch

Bunga’s participation in the IPMC has enabled her to expand her IP portfolio to cover assets other than trademarks, such as industrial designs. These offer valuable protection for long-lifecycle accessories with distinctive designs, such as her brooches. More generally, Bunga now recognizes the importance of safeguarding her creative assets. This will protect the rights of the brand’s creations and lays the groundwork for a more structured and secure future for the business.

“It was a valuable experience for the Exobrooch team to be one of the brands to participate in the IPMC,” said Bunga. “The IPMC gave several recommendations for preparing to register new IP, such as what design images need to be registered and how to choose a name that has a good chance of being registered. The IPMC experts also advised us on how to register products that have already been released as well as those still awaiting release. We now understand that it is crucial to protect the IP not only of products that are already being sold or marketed, but also of designs and ideas still under development.”

Going global

Bunga has come a long way from the IP novice who registered her first trademark less than six years ago. After completing the IPMC program, she now has ambitious plans to expand Exobrooch’s IP portfolios. “I’m currently preparing the documentation and sourcing funding to register additional IP. This includes several product designs and the patent rights for the Exobebe brand,” she explains. “I plan to proceed with the registration through SMESCO Indonesia, as they offer registration assistance programs for SMEs.”

With her growing assurance in IP, Bunga also has a keen eye on the international market. “In the context of global marketing, it’s imperative to guarantee that our designs and products can be legally and securely sold in intended countries,” she says. “IP is complex, but it’s vital – especially for individuals working in the creative sector.”

That creativity continues to shine through Bunga’s innovative designs. And with a firm grasp on Exobrooch’s IP, she now hopes to introduce her creations – and a slice of Jakarta’s vibrant handicraft culture – to a much larger domestic and global audience.

Last update:

April 25, 2024


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