#BLPGIRLS | Helga, Making Impact through Food
A combination of doing what we love and impacting others is something we resonate with, so meeting Helga Angelina Tjahjadi – or Helga – from plant-based company Burgreens was an inspiring encounter. Through her venture, she has been channeling her passion in wellness and showing commitment to sustainability. Below is our conversation with the womenpreneur, as we talked about her relationship with food, her ways to create social impacts in Burgreens and her thoughts on beauty.
Hi Helga! Can you share about the beginning of Burgreens back in 2013?
It all started from my personal experience. I struggled with a few auto-immune conditions and severe allergies that made me turn to a handful of remedies. Sadly, none of it worked until I got the chance to learn about nutrition. From there, my eyes were opened to the importance of being mindful of what we eat and how it has a huge impact on our health in the long run. That was my turning point – I eventually adjusted my diet to a plant-based diet. Things have changed drastically since then. In the span of 2 years, I found that my body healed itself. In light of the strong link between food and health, together with my husband Max, we came back from the Netherlands and established Burgreens in Jakarta. One thing that we had in our mind was to make healthy food more appealing and accessible for people. Healthy food that tastes good does exist!
How has your relationship with food evolved since then?
In the first few months after I started consuming plant-based food, I tried to avoid unhealthy food at all costs. It’s like there’s a dichotomy between good and bad food. However, as time goes by, and as I am on my fifth year in this journey, I become more relaxed in how I see food. My golden rule became simpler; it’s now about choosing the best option available, as long as they are plant-based. Now I can eat gorengan if I want to [laughs].
Other than being a pioneer in plant-based food joints, Burgreens is also renowned for its responsible supply chain. How do you implement this?
My partner Max and I, as the founders, put sustainability at the core of our business, from the products to the environment and financial sides of things. 50% of our food is locally-sourced and bought directly without the help of a middleman. This policy results in fairer wages for the farmers. We are saddened to see how farmers only get 10% of the money, give and take, from the farmer's market. Therefore, we opt for direct purchasing, which also helps us have better control of our quality. When we claim that our food is organic, we are in full certainty and understanding of where the food is coming from.
Any other social impacts that Burgreens tries to implement?
We want to break the stereotype that the food industry is not women-friendly by creating a gender-balanced policy. Our company attempts to include more women in each level of the company from investors, board of directors, middle management, outlets to production management. At the very least, 50% of our employees count need to be filled by women.
Inclusivity is also at the heart of this policy – we are open for any employee that comes from underprivileged background. In fact, some of our production employees are local women farmers that have gone through a series of training. Opportunities are wide open in Burgreens and we have flexible working hours to support women’s role as a mother.
What are three best things about being a womenpreneur in your opinion?Women are naturally more sensitive to feelings. This gives us a quality to manage our team in a more understanding way. Being a womanpreneur also makes me understand all challenges to thrive in both our career and our personal life. This understanding helps me form working policies and create an environment that suits women and their multi-roles. Gone are the days when women need to choose between our career or our family – we can choose both! Lastly, I think when it comes to negotiation, there’s a lot of benefits coming from women’s standpoint. It’s like we are blessed with a better negotiation skill. Look at all the ripple of changes that we can do as leaders by just being women!
How do you spend your free time?I find playing with my three dogs is very therapeutic and recreational. WFH would be very dull without them! I also like being in nature and do some not-too-extreme outdoor activities like hiking or trekking. Playing board games with my friends is also how I usually spend my free time.
Other than the things that you are doing now, are there things that you would like to learn?
If I have the time, I really want to learn to do makeup. Also, I want to learn how to do gardening. My partner is really good at that and honestly I don’t understand why I don’t have the green thumb like he does.
Any tried-and-tested advice for aspiring womenpreneurs?
Be bold and confident in yourself. Don’t let the perception of others get into your head; sometimes ignorance is a true bliss. Get rid of the image of how a perfect leader should be and be authentic in how we lead. After all, we have our own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s best to embrace ourselves and lead in our own ways. Simply remember to take notes of what we need to improve!
What is beauty to you?
Beauty is taking care of ourselves and being mindful in whatever we put onto our body. It’s not about on-point makeup or how fashionable we are, but more about embracing our whole selves that are uniquely ours.