Margie Untoro, well known for her iconic blue hair, is also well known for her hard work along her career and how well she does it in terms of balancing her lifestyle. From sparing her time daily to be on her mat for yoga to eating mindfully, we’re truly inspired by how she believes in diversity and variety in her diet. Thus, that’s why she encapsulates Aliansi.
Get to know her more through this interview below!
Lazy Susan: Can you tell us a bit about your career journey?
Margie Untoro : It’s probably a journey filled with a lot of serendipity. Growing up, I never thought I’d work in the creative industry–I wanted to be an archeologist at one point (thanks to my love for Greek mythologies). After high school, I expressed an interest in enrolling in hospitality school because I developed a hobby for cooking, which my mother was highly against. I ended up majoring in visual communication design in university, and scored an internship in a multinational advertising agency before I graduated. It was a fun experience, but I was still unsure if that was what I wanted to do.
After college, I decided that agency life is not for me, and I ended up in a garment company working as a merchandiser. I was stuck replying to emails and checking samples and putting it back to the mailbox for delivery–it got very dull after just a few months. Afterwards, I moved to a small boutique as a store manager, where I learned about service and “romancing the customers” for sales.
A year later, I saw an opening for a Fashion Stylist in one of the major media companies, and I decided to apply–not fully understanding the scope of the work. Long story short, I scored the job, and it became one of the most rewarding and roller-coaster filled periods of my life. I started as a Fashion Stylist in Seventeen Indonesia, and worked my way up to Editor, before being transferred to CLEO Indonesia, where I stayed until I was a Managing Editor. I left the magazine for a short while to sharpen my skills at Sephora Indonesia as Marketing and Communications Manager, only to come back to CLEO Indonesia a year later to helm the publication as Editor in Chief. In total, I spent almost 14 years in lifestyle media. My last stint in media was as Editor in Chief for Dewi.
Now I am working as the Head of Communications for the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nusantara (Museum MACAN). It’s been a great experience so far, learning new things and understanding the world of arts more. I am also still connected with friends from the media, although now from the other side: the one inviting the media over and creating news-worthy releases for the journalists and editors. I sometimes think it sort of comes back in full circle, as I am now re-learning and remembering the History of Art lessons that I got back in college. Hahaha.
LS: What’s a good balance between sitting in front of your computer and going around doing chores/exercise/hangout?
MU: I don’t like to be sedentary for a long while, although sometimes you just lose track of time especially when you’re so focused and engrossed with your tasks/work (or Netflix). The benefit of working in a museum, which is a large public place, is that I can steal a little time to walk around to stretch, and perhaps station myself at Common Grounds (the museum’s coffee shop) where I can get more sunshine while I work.
On the weekends when I am home, I like to do all my house chores: sweeping, mopping, scrubbing the bathroom, doing the laundry, and cooking. Things that I might not have too much time for on the weekday. I consider this as a sort of exercise as it involves some level of physical activity. Haha
I exercise almost everyday, mostly yoga. I always try to spare some time to be on my mat daily, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. On the weekend, I either walk, run, or bike (to a pastry shop or a noodle joint). Since the pandemic, I have also started incorporating more restorative and Yin yoga into my practice. Isolation has made me realize the importance of being still. If movement is medicine for the body, stillness is medicine for the mind; and you can find meditation in both depending on what you need or how you feel.
LS: Does having a balanced lifestyle means sacrificing living a good life? How do you balance it out?
MU: I feel that I am living a better life now that I have a more balanced lifestyle. If by sacrificing you mean restricting a certain food or activity which may make you feel miserable, I think it’s just a matter of mindset. Restricting a certain thing will only lead to binging so I don’t really have any. I just prioritize. I do intermittent fasting, which for some may be seen as restrictive, but as I have experienced the benefits, it is something that I do without feeling like I have sacrificed anything. I am also flexible, I sometimes don’t fast on weekends or when I am on holidays. As you grow more aware and in tune with yourself and your body, you start noticing the nuances and signa ls it sends, and you will know what makes you feel good and what doesn’t–this process does take time and patience.
LS: You are very active in terms of keeping your mental and physical health well, what are the 5 foods that you believe can do good to both mental and physical health at the same time?
MU: Food that you love, but in moderation? Haha. I try not to demonize any type of food–anyone who knows me quite well, will know my knack for snacking and jajan, from fried tofu to boba. Obviously they’re not always healthy food, and less can be said about the benefits physically, but one can’t deny how some food can benefit you mentally, and that is as important. As much as I enjoy trying all the superfood trends (acai powder, turmeric, matcha, spirulina, chlorophyll, maca, etc.–it’s a never ending list), I believe that no certain food is more superior than others. Diversity and variety in your diet is what would create “superfood”. I follow the “Eat Your Rainbow” rule, meaning I always try to eat food with a variety of colors as each color represents certain nutrients (phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals) in the food. I am not vegan, but I crave vegetables in every meal, so I make sure I have them. Fresh fruits come next. The other three would be.. Coffee (haha), soupy food like ramen or soto (my comfort food), and a really good pastry.
LS: In Indonesia, eating healthy is perceived to be somewhat of a luxurious thing, do you have any thoughts on it? And what’s your favorite Indonesian food?
MU: If eating healthy for most people means buying overpriced juices and salads, then yes it is very expensive. I think we are so easily swooned by these Westernized ideals of “healthy eating” that we overlook our own culinary traditions. Most regions in the country eat more vegetables and fruits, because meat was and still is expensive. Proteins will come from more readily available and cheap sources (tofu, tempe, insects or worms, anyone?). We did not enjoy instant noodles until the 70s when the large flour corporation started campaigning heavily on their products. “Gorengan” might have been popularized in the 90s after the palm oil/cooking oil revolution. Prior to that, food was mostly steamed, boiled, grilled, and even eaten raw. Most of my favorite Indonesian food happens to fall within this category: pecel, karedok, anything with tofu (pepes tahu, tahu bacem, etc), and nasi ulam Betawi.
LS: Would you consider Herbana’s ReliefSari Powder a convenient product line? How would you use it in your diet other than mixing it into your drink?
MU: As I mentioned before, I love powders, they’re convenient and easy to incorporate into daily life. Aside from putting it into my smoothies, I like to mix it into soups, sauces, and even baked goods.
An example of how Margie incorporates healthy ingredients to her daily pick me ups is her scrumptious Golden Latte.
With a touch of warmth from the Red Ginger Powder, the overall taste gives a mix of slight sweetness and savoury that’s combined with her choice of frothed soy latte. The yellow turmeric powder, other than giving it a hint of tasty bitterness, also gives the drink a glowing colour of golden yellow. The perfect toasty drink for a cold rainy day!
Here’s how to make it;
1 sachet ReliefSari Turmeric Powder
1 sachet ReliefSari Red Ginger Powder
250 ml of warm milk of choice (I used soy)
garnish with cinnamon powder and turmeric powder
option to add honey if you want to sweeten it
- Heat the milk of your choice until warm to the temperature you prefer
- froth the heated milk for around 1 minute (optional)
- Incorporate one teaspoon of ReliefSari Turmeric Powder with one teaspoon ReliefSari Red Ginger Powder into the milk. Mix well.
- Additionally, add a teaspoon or two of honey to sweeten the drink.
- Garnish the top with cinnamon powder and turmeric powder.