Pillowtalk: Karina Utomo
This Pillow Talk feature is a particularly special one. Karina Utomo is a dear friend of SUKU who happens to share a space with us at No Order Market, and is incredibly inspirational in all that she does – which ranges from opening and running the first Baserange Store in the world, creating metal music with High Tension, being the regular fill-in host/programmer for The Racket on Triple J, even creating wholesale relationships for SUKU Home, and then balancing it all out at her beautiful home in Warrandyte with husband, and puppy Raekwon. We joined Karina and Raekwon over the weekend to muse on how we actually decide to make things happen, and how to look after ourselves once all of the things are finally happening! Sharing her mother's and grandmother's wisdom as well as her own, Karina gave us a glimpse into how her world turns on a daily basis.
What is the best thing about what you do?
Having freedom and a sense of purpose every day. I feel very privileged to be surrounded by incredible people who have put their trust in me, both in a creative and business sense; it enables me to produce and execute work I believe in. I am also super proud of my team at Baserange Store who are committed and passionate across all aspects of sustainability, feminism and being kind.
Being based at No Order Market has had a profoundly positive impact on my career perspective; being in the space and seeing the power collective minds and hearts can achieve is a testament to the necessity of collaboration, plus nobody minds that I take my dog to work.
How do you set the tone for your day?
I start the day with a long walk in nature or the gardens with my pooch and make sure she is fed and relaxed. Then my ritual of list making /goal setting, tea brewing, incense or oil burning starts so I feel set up for a productive day.
What's something about you that most people wouldn't know?
I am a little superstitious and one of my close friends jokes that I have ESP for all the times my intuition has been freakishly on point.
As someone who has always had a lot going on in Melbourne, what brought you to Warrandyte?
It was actually Chrissy, the adventure instigator and finder of magic, who first brought us to a beautiful part of the Yarra River in Warrandyte one summer’s day for a swim. My husband despises most Melbourne beaches so it resolved our swimming excursion dilemma for a few summers after. In 2013, upon visiting one of my close friends in her hometown of Nelson, New Zealand, I stayed at her parents’ beautiful property overlooking an estuary – I was blown away, the romanticised idea of living in ‘the country’ made sense all of a sudden. My husband felt the same way about a move closer to nature – we were renting a literally crumbling terrace house in Collingwood before we began house hunting; Kyneton was too far for both of us for the daily commute and we wanted to get away from the concrete and few trees of the West – so Warrandyte was the natural choice for us.
Our new house fulfilled my longing to be amongst rocks, trees, birds and a running body of water; as the gemologist on Yarra St aptly put it when I asked her why she chose to open her shop on Yarra St: “The river keeps the energy flowing and moving through Warrandyte – this area always feels cleansed and energised.” Her analogy really resonated with me – the river/nature is my personal reminder that the world is in constant motion; change is inevitable and to always embrace the present.
Can you tell us a bit more about Raekwon and how she came to be in your life?Before we adopted Raekwon, I had never owned a dog - I had an album of “photos of other people’s dogs and I”, and for a while a daily game called “dog of the day” my husband was obliged to participate in (basically, you have to let the other person know of any cool dogs you saw that day in real life or on the internet), tireless scrolling on Pet Rescue, and I am fairly sure I have watched every Dogs 101 episode on YouTube - ask me about the personality traits of a Rottweiler and I’d probably know.
We couldn’t have a dog when we lived in Collingwood (backyard was concrete with no shade, even native plants didn’t stand a chance of survival) – Raekwon’s profile came up on Pet Rescue in December last year, we drove to an animal shelter in Woodend to meet her and her foster mum (shout out to all the foster parents out there for their tireless labour of love), Raekwon was the only dog we met and we took her home that day.
We don’t know too much about Raekwon’s history, but there are clear signs she experienced trauma, she is easily scared of sudden movements, is sensitive to noise/loud bangs, and is highly suspicious of most men – it took a while for us to bring her out of her shell and to slowly make her feel that the world isn’t as scary as she thinks it is (or as before)… she is still learning and we are training her slowly, I am so proud of how far she has come. Despite my pre-obsession with dogs, I did not realise that it was possible to have this amount of love for an animal – I cried when I came home for a short break from tour back in January, because I wanted to just be with her. Raekwon has brought so much joy to our life… she is funny, affectionate and even when she is being a bit of a weirdo it is wonderfully endearing.
If you've had a rough day, how do you ground yourself?
I call my mum; she really does have all the answers and knows exactly what to say or a solution to propose.
Do you have to sacrifice anything in order to create your present life?
It is my husband that has sacrificed the most to support my music and the different projects I commit to, but I am not sure if he sees it that way because he really is such a maddog.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?
I hope to exist in a world with more empathy, understanding, less complacency and the human race coming together to stop destroying it.
Do you have a mantra or guiding philosophy?
My mum has taught me that fighting for what you believe in is necessary, and to not deny the things that are already in your heart. My grandma taught me from a young age about the importance of self care, she practiced the Javanese philosophy of Rupasampat Wahyabiantara – seeing beauty as a whole – a balance of mind, heart and soul. She taught me how to do facials and massage and demonstrated that our bodies and minds deserve constant care and attention.
What's the current soundtrack to your life?
There are three metal albums that are currently on rotation: Power Trip’s Nightmare Logic, Napalm Death’s Apex Predator and Carcass’ Surgical Steel.
Skodia Soft Wear available from SUKU Concept Store at No Order Market.
Photography // Dandra Andi
Words // Maxine Dabrowski