Sherina Mahtani-Binwani strikes and impressive figure of a woman who is sure of who she is and what she wants.
The first time I laid eyes on her, few questions came to mind – who is this fascinating lady, where is she from and what does she do?
Fast-forward, a couple of months later, here we are getting to know this entrepreneur at heart, Indonesian-born-Kuala Lumpur-based Sherina Mahtani-Binwani.
Zu Anjalika Kamis Gunnulfsen
Words Sherina Mahtani-Binwani
I believe in the saying, “change is constant” – if something doesn’t serve you anymore, move on; it is time to grow.
I have worked from the age of 15 years old. It was a summer job after my O-Levels and I had worked in my uncle’s trading office, mainly learning about accounting. After I graduated from Melbourne, Australia with my business degree, I joined the family business in garment manufacturing and export in Jakarta, Indonesia – my birthplace. I was to go into high fashion then on, as we manufactured for brands like Levi’s, Missoni, Scotch & Soda, naming a few. Our clients were mainly European and I was intrigued with the Italian and French sense of style and detail.
I got married in 2000 and moved to Kuala Lumpur. Many might think, similar cultures, adjusting would have been easy. It wasn’t! I had no family in Kuala Lumpur except the family I was married into and that too was arranged.
Jakarta was way ahead in terms of fashion, trends and lifestyle than Kuala Lumpur. Far more liberal, too in every sense. Soon after moving to Kuala Lumpur, I joined my husband’s family business in high fashion textiles. We were growing the business then and I was happy to be part of it – organising fashion shows, events, meeting clients who eventually became friends which helped me settle in.
Whilst the children were young, I organised exhibitions for fashion and jewellery designers who dressed Hollywood and Bollywood stars in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Bangkok. Labels like Elie Saab, Versace, Michael Cinco, Bvlgari, Roger Dubuis, to name a few. I preferred flexible work as I didn’t want to be away for too long from the kids and yet do something that fulfils me. Once there was a good relationship with these brands, I was able to simultaneously work on other things when opportunity presented itself.
In 2016, I partnered with a Spanish friend to bring in handmade leather footwear into Indonesia. The business now has gone online, and it is pretty much on autopilot which is the way I feel businesses should run. We do keep a close check. My partner & I have an aligned mindset and vision to run it.
In 2019, I launched a luxury wellness retreat in Bali called Escape Ritual. We host private retreats for individuals and groups that want some time to recenter and get away from the hustle-bustle of city corporate life. It wasn’t an easy project as I had limited knowledge in tourism and travel but I learnt and travelled, attending fairs to learn the ropes. After 6 months into our launch, I had finally a steady stream of bookings only to be shut down by the pandemic.
Last April, during our first MCO, my kids pushed me to start selling my bakes. Yes, I’ve always baked from the age of 12. I was baking every other day for the family out of boredom. Thanks to my children, they created the name, Instagram page, menu and pricing – that motivated me to start. I have amazingly supportive friends who immediately started ordering before I was even completely ready. But I managed and a year later, Baked by Sher, is still around with regular and new clients.
I have loved being home for the past 1.5 years to be with the family. My daughter leaves for university this fall and I am so glad I am spending so much time with her before her departure.
Baking has kept me busy but my true passion is travel. I derive a lot of inspiration when I am in Europe. I have a certain connection with that part of the world.
My fashion icons Princess Diana, Nicole Kidman and Victoria Beckham; simple, chic and yet practical.
My all-time favourite Indonesian food gado-gado, satay, kredok, siomay – common factor here – everything is served with a variation of peanut sauces. I would always have peanut butter in my fridge.
My typical day (the past year) starts with either a jog or brisk walk, HIIT or yoga session. I prefer morning workouts to evening workouts. Exercise has always been part of my life. My sneakers & Lululemon are always with me when I travel, even when attending a wedding.
My favourite cities London, Paris, New York, Barcelona & Milan – all the fashion-week stops.
My favourite café anywhere in the world Nammos, Mykonos. That’s a place I would love to go back to and La Boca Grande in Barcelona for their amazing Hibiscus Siderit Gin & Squid Ink Paella. Oh, I love sitting in cafes that face the street.
Favourite beaches My husband loves beaches and thanks to him we have visited the best beaches in Tahiti, Maldives and Sardinia.
Once the borders open up, let’s see where life takes me. I do believe in fate and I have faith that the right things will come along for the right reasons.
Gallery – Baked By Sher
Get Your Cake And Eat It Too