Work With Meaning: Sasha Jiliane Goes From Pharmaceutical Science To Spirit Creating

Interview Jess Nair | Photography Courtesy Of Sasha Wijidessa

Sasha Wijidessa (@sashajiliane), 24, is a pharmaceutical student turned Creative Director in a free-form distillery. Here, #TeamCLEO spoke to her about finding meaning in her work, that is, how she made the leap as a pharmacy student to going full-force in bartending.

There is a little science in spirit-making when you think about it!

For some, the artistry behind that drink you just sipped is just a medley of flavours. For others, it’s their true passion of a creation they concepted from scratch, and is part of a world they’ve always dreamed of joining. For Sasha Jiliane who was studying Pharmaceutical Science and dabbling in bartending, she ended up working as a “spirit creator” fulltime.

“It just sort of happened” – she just started it during her student days to get some extra cash, then realised she loved every part of it, which includes, “being in a creative space, making drinks, the creative process, interacting with people and customer service.” At the crossroads of choosing her studies or continuing bartending, she said, “It seemed only fair to myself to choose to do something that I love so I chose bartending.”

“If I could be happy and still make a career out of it, why not?”

“It’s a job that made me really happy” – because she finds meaning in seeing people have a good time and knowing she had a part in that. And accomplishing goals that we’ve set as team, whether it is service standards, or creatively with our drinks, or just day to day stuff, like a team member learning something new/ improving. That made me so happy and fulfilled. And when it comes to service, seeing our guest enjoying themselves, that made me really happy as well.

“For as long as I’ve known, I’ve always been affected by my surroundings” – so for Sasha, her surroundings drive her too. She explains that a job in the nightlife can be challenging but her colleagues make it easy if not worthwhile. “I feel so privileged having the team that I had, being able to grow and learn and evolve with them, that keeps me going. Trying to be the kind of leader that I know they deserve, pushes me to be better, and do better,” she said.

Sasha pours her creativity into her work, and credits for her mentors and workmates for inspiring her every step of the way

“My creative approach to drinks has always been about expressing different forms of inspirations” – And it’s all thanks to her mentors, Luke Whearty (Owner, Byrdi, Melbourne) and Aki Nishikura (Owner, Byrdi, Melbourne). “We always take a different approach when we made them and simply just shifted our focus to flavours. To work very much like a kitchen and give the same amount of attention and detail that you would to food, into the drinks that we made as well,” she said.