#KartiniMasaKini: Helga Angelina
”Empowered women should feel comfortable in their own skin, without comparing
themselves to other people or the mainstream definition of beauty, success, good wife, etc”
Being a vegan has truly changed her life, from curing her health issues, to establishing her own organic fast food restaurant, Burgreens, alongside with her husband. Not only for health reasons, she and her husband shared the same passion about animal welfare and environmental sustainability.
- Can you tell us about your background?
I’m an International Communication graduate from Arnhem Business School, the Netherlands. I’ve done several internships in Marketing & Communications area, and did my graduation project in an international digital agency, Blast Radius Amsterdam.
- Can you tell us more about the process of becoming a vegan?
Ever since childhood for as long as I can remember, I had been suffering from chronic health issues such as asthma, sinusitis, and eczema – all triggered by stress and multiple allergies. I was allergic to more than 20+ foods, cold, and dust – which practically made me sick almost everyday (I was growing up in a very polluted city called Jakarta :D). I was treated with pharmaceutical medicines from different antibiotics to corticosteroid. When I was 15, I got hospitalised and the doctors told me that my liver wasn’t functioning normally and I had crystals in my urine. I was also suffering from insomnia for years when I was in Junior High School – which made questioning how my health issues were treated. I then started learning about alternative healing and found a book about Nutrition for Healing which recommended wholefood plant-based diet to heal ourselves. The idea is that our body , under certain circumstances , can heal itself when given the right nutrition. And based on many research such as The China Study and Bluezones Diet, wholefood plant-based diet is the healthiest diet for humans and the planet. So I gave vegetarian diet a try for 2 years and ditched all medications altogether – and I felt massive improvement on my health. My asthma and sinusitis was completely healed, and my eczema became a lot milder (only triggered by heavy stress). I slept better and overall felt more energised, calmer, and positive. My skin and hair also became healthier. Since then, I continued my diet.
When I went to the Netherlands, I was eating some chicken and fish during winter because people say (never again will I trust “katanya“) that our body needs heat from animal protein during winter. I tried and my health issues came back. In my fourth year, I decided to go back to vegetarian together with my boyfriend, Max, who went vegetarian for environment and animal reasons. Not long after we came back to Indonesia and started Burgreens, we watched a documentary called “Cowspiracy” made by Kip Andersen and co-produced by Leonardo Di Caprio. The movie presents all the facts about the impact of our addiction to meat, dairy, and fish to our environment – which really open our eyes. My then-boyfriend-now-husband and I became vegan together in 2014 for our love to the environment and animals. The practices in dairy farms are very cruel, and we just don’t want to support the industry that promotes cruelty.
- How did you make Burgreens?
Since my partner, Max, and I shared the same passion for healthy plant-based food – especially the impact it has on our health, animal welfare, and environment – we were brainstorming what we can do to do something we’re passionate about and live from it. The idea of Burgreens came about in December 2012 – an organic healthy fast food. We wanted to make healthy, ethical, and more sustainable eating fun, cool, delicious, and accessible to the urbanites – people who need healthy food the most. That’s why we choose a fast food concept that makes healthy eating less intimidating and is also liked by kids.
In summer 2013, we quit our jobs and came back from the Netherlands to Indonesia. We started Burgreens very humbly in November 2013, in my friend’s house in Rempoa. Max handled kitchen and I handled service and bar. Literally, we opened the restaurant with just the two of us. In early 2014, we started getting help from friends and promote Burgreens through festivals (that’s how I met Puyo founders :D). In 2015, we opened our second outlet in Tebet, in the second floor of Organik Klub, as many of our customers demanded our presence in Jakarta.
In 2016 we started working with angel investors to support us to open in prime locations and transform the business to be a more professionally managed one. In 2017, we opened our outlets in Darmawangsa, moved Burgreens Rempoa to Pacific Place, and opened an outlet in Pondok Indah Mall.
- What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting or running your business, Burgreens?
I guess time for leisure, especially in the first 3 years of the business. The fact that we are now responsible for the lives of 90 team members and 200+ farmers that we work with gives us extra sense of responsibility to manage the business professionally. Definitely an extra pressure compared to a normal 20-something years-old life.
- Who is your biggest role model/inspiration?
I’m inspired by many people who use business as a tool to make and extend positive impact. From my circle of friends and mentors, I’m inspired by Femke den Haas (founder of Jakarta Animal Aid Network who is tirelessly fighting for animal rights and actually saving animals from cruel practices happening in Indonesia). Her energy, optimism, and genuine kind intention is really inspiring). My mentor, Oom Julianto Sidarto also inspires me to lead authentically and pursue sweet success – success that is defined by internal motivation and values rather than comparing ourselves with other people. I’m also inspired by some of my angel investors such as Bu Ati Sugiharti, Bu Shinta Kamdani, and Pak Diono Nurjadin – accomplished business leaders who use their money, influence, and power to help social businesses and support entrepreneurship ecosystem in Indonesia.
From international start up world, I’m inspired by Body Shop and Patagonia – social enterprises that have scaled their business and impact.
- What is your best remedy when you feel tired or down?
Spend sometime alone or with my husband at home to reflect. I learned this self healing technique called TAT to help my recycle negative emotions when needed. When in need, I seek help from a holistic healing therapist.
- What is your favorite quote, or your motto to keep on going in life?
“Do what’s right, not what is easy” – unknown.
” Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
- What does women empowerment means to you?
I think women has to be able to do whatever their heart wants to do – be it a full time mom, or a career-driven executive, or a founder, or an activist — without being judged by other people or without judging themselves because of societal norms or external pressure.
I also believe that empowered women should feel comfortable in their own skin, without comparing themselves to other people or mainstream definition of beauty, success, good wife, etc etc. If you’re a caring mom-type – then be it. If you’re an apologetically bold woman – also, be it. Being authentic will make our lives a lot easier and attract the right people to our circle.
- What is your favorite Puyo Desserts?
Silky Taro 😀
- Say you are given a chance to speak in front of many Indonesian women. What is the most important message that you want to tell them?
I’m going to quote a quote that gets me going everyday, “Do what’s right, not what is easy”.