Black Book Fashion is always on the lookout for free spirited individuals that inspire us with their energy, style and beauty. So we caught up with Sarah Bollien, the co-founder of Santi Santi, who turned a visit to Bali into the start of a travel and fashion adventure. Chronicling her exploits through her @betweenricefields page, we caught up with her to hear her story.
Tell us a bit about yourself, what brought you to Bali and what made you set up a base here?
I’m Sarah, 26 years old from Germany. What brought me to Bali? As Part of my studies in Germany, I studied Textile Engineering and this involved spending a semester abroad. I decided not to go to France or Spain, like my family and friends entrusted me, but as far away as possible - and that’s how I came to Bali. At that time I had never been to Asia before but the minute I arrived at the airport I knew this could get really amazing. And that’s how it was. I spent five amazing months in Bali, discovering a completely new culture, amazingly friendly people and a perfect environment for living and working. That’s why I made the decision to finish my studies in Germany and come back to Bali after I finished my Bachelor degree. Probably the best decision I’ve ever made!
Who is the Santi Santi woman? What is the aesthetic and spirit you are trying to capture with your brand?
During the design process I’m thinking about an open-minded, wanderlusty woman who is strong but gentle at the same time, who’s a free spirit and of course who is interested in fashion and trends. Moreover, I want to address all those who prefer small brands with handmade products and fair working conditions. Those who want to have something unique. Our designs are inspired by the bohemian style, combined with balinese components. Even if these two aspects have nothing to do with each other in the first place, they fit perfectly together.
How does living in Bali influence your brand’s style and the way its produced?
Many things that I see or do have an impact on my designs. Sometimes it’s just a small seashell I’ve found on the beach, sometimes it’s a traditional Balinese ceremony or a funny quote someone is saying. And because I’m living here on this beautiful island, I wanted to give something back to the people. That’s why it’s important for me to make sure that our products are produced under fair working conditions. To ensure this, we only work with family owned manufacturers.
What’s your favorite piece in your collection?
Oh, that’s a good a good question. I don’t really have that one piece I like the most. But the ones I really like are are these for example the Patri Pirus Ring‚ the Kali Karma Necklace and the Giselle Getaran Bracelet.
Patri Pirus Ring courtesy of Santi Santi
What advice would you give to other designers thinking of starting their own label?
If you really wanna do it - Just do It! But always keep in mind that it will get difficult and exhausting, for sure - especially in the beginning until everything is set up. And it will cost you a lot of time no matter if it’s Tuesday or Sunday. But if you really love what you’re doing then it’s not about working but about making your vision a reality. And on the other hand you’re your own boss. You can decide whatever you think will be best for your brand and your customers. That will make it a lot more fun and I’m sure you will be a lot more creative and efficient.
What can we look forward to from Santi Santi in the upcoming year?
We have some really cool plans for this year and I’m currently working on a new product to expand our range especially for the summer time. We just introduced our new rattan bags in addition to our jewelry - and we’re planning to make a new swim-wear collection, too. Like every summer we’re looking forward to join fashion markets and small exhibitions to spread the Santi Santi Vibe and to get to know our customers better.
Which are your favorite spots to hang out in Bali?
Oh that’s probably the most difficult question to answer without going beyond the scope of this interview! Of course there are many many beautiful spots in Bali and they are all special in their own kind of way. I really love the north of Bali - it’s so quiet, not that touristy and many parts are still natural and untouched. The Sekumpul Waterfall for example is definitely worth a trip and offers a breathtaking view. I also love Nusa Penida Island. It’s only half an hour away by speed boat and even if the island is quite small there are many spots to explore. And I really enjoy watching the sunset at one of those beach bars after I finished work, have a chat with friends and a cold beer!
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