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‘Back from Bali’ Founder Spills Her Secrets to Selling Online

Back from Bali InterviewAre you an Amazon Prime fan? If you’ve ever thought about starting your own online store or wondered how the process works for those Prime products, I have a special interview with the owner of the resort-wear clothing line, Back from Bali, sold exclusively on Amazon.

I first met the founder, Leslie, a couple years ago at the American Women’s Club of Zurich and she told me she owned a clothing brand. I was instantly curious and ordered a Back from Bali baby blue and white floral dress (below). I’m always nervous about ordering clothes on Amazon, but Back from Bali didn’t disappoint! The tunics, dresses and cover-ups are feminine, ideal for any summer getaway and best of all – you won’t feel guilty adding it to your cart because there isn’t a single piece that will break the bank. Plus, the story behind how Leslie started her brand is truly inspiring if you’ve ever wanted to start your own business. Now, meet Leslie…

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Q. What inspired you to start ‘Back from Bali’?

Leslie – ‘I traveled for seven months to Indonesia many years ago and loved it. When I returned, I needed to get a job and while looking in the paper (which is what you did back then) I had a light-bulb moment where I remembered the colorful gorgeous batik clothing that I had seen in Bali.

I took out a calculator and did some numbers and realized I could make some money if I went back and bought. I jumped back on the plane and started buying off the streets at different stores in Bali. The truth is, what inspired me, was not getting a job in an office ever again! And I loved traveling and beautiful fabrics.’

Back from Bali founder Savvy Spice interview

Q. How does your quality differ from other resort style brands sold online? Especially because your collection is made in Bali unlike many other clothing brands, how has it been producing a product there?

Leslie – ‘What I love about producing in Bali is there are no factories that I work with. I work with many Balinese women who have their own small businesses with perhaps 2-10 sewers. My production there is truly grass roots. I work only with cottage industries there. I have vendors sitting on floors hand crocheting, others making batik sarongs in traditional ways, and others working with their families hand sewing crystal embellishments onto tunics.

And I love my vendors! I have been working with many of them for many years. I go from one hug to the next. I know many people say their clothes are made with love, but I really mean it. Back From Bali supports small women businesses in Bali, who really care.’

Back from Bali Savvy Spice

Q. How do you design the collections and determine what styles to make based on the season or knowing what will sell?

Leslie – ‘I have absolutely no design experience or training. My grandmother and great grandmother had a successful clothing shop and sometimes I think I just have it in my blood. I go with my gut and what I like and what feels right. I am very conscious of costs as I want to be able to offer fabulous clothing at great prices. I work with several designers and it truly is a collaboration.

The hard part often is not knowing if it will sell or not, and so I just have to go for it!  For this last season, there was a sample we made, and when I saw it I got chills and I loved it, and I knew this was going to be a hit – and it is. I find you just have to have the feeling and try things. Ultimately, it’s the customer who decides what works as I try to follow their lead.’

Back from Bali vaction wear

Q. You sell your line exclusively on Amazon. Would you recommend this to others looking to start a new business?

Leslie – ‘Amazon has changed my life. I never even physically see the goods from my production, as it all gets bar-coded in Bali, and then gets shipped using UPS to different Amazon warehouses. (then sales are fulfilled – shipped by Amazon). I truly have an online ecommerce business. I am from New York, manufacture in Bali, live in Zurich and can live anywhere I want as long as I have internet connection. For me this is the ultimate freedom.  I love it!

I totally recommend doing this, but it takes work, strategy, and perseverance. There is a lot to know on how to be successful on Amazon. You don’t just add products to the site and sit back and collect- I work very hard for my success.’

Q. What are some of the challenges or advantages to running your business in the US while living in Switzerland?

Leslie – This is why selling online is so fabulous. Having an online business allows you to be anywhere and there are no downsides to that. There are challenges with living in another country on a personal level, but that’s another topic!

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Q. What do you love most about Bali? Any travel tips?

Leslie – I love the Balinese people and their culture. They have an amazing religion that only exists in Bali. And every part of their day is influenced by their beliefs. Giving offerings to the good Gods and the bad Gods happens several times a day. You see police officers with a flower behind their ear giving offerings in temples. On the flip side, this is really challenging for my business. I can’t tell you how many ceremonies and holidays the Balinese take. Manufacturing there takes time – a lot of time!

There are many great places to visit in Bali, but a few of my favorite places and experiences are Taman Sari resort, which is in the north, Nusa Lembongan Island (off of Bali) and doing yoga at Desi Seni resort among the scent of frangipani flowers and lush gardens. I love the feeling in Bali and how it has attracted people from all over the world living and working there and living a life that they love.

If you have any questions for Leslie, just let me know. New post in a Back from Bali kimono coming tomorrow!

~xo,

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3 Comments

Comments

  1. I loved reading this interview. I always find women with their own businesses very inspirational.

  2. This is a fantastic interview, Dale! I always love connecting with other entrepreneurs and learning about their businesses and backgrounds.. Leslie’s line is beautiful and to be created in Bali is wonderful in so many ways. As an e-boutique business owner for the last 3 1/2 years what Leslie says really resonates with me. I have found that having fulfillment by the brand (rather than sending out all orders myself) makes so much sense for my business goals. I always end up having a number of sales when I’m traveling–and I used to stress about getting my curated collections shipped out in a timely way. Now that some of my brands (like my favorite Savvy Sleepers!) can be shipped with a quick email, I feel like I can take my business anywhere–like from a laptop on the beach in St. Barths (which has always been my goal! 😉 Thanks for sharing this great info. I always love talking ‘business’ with you Dale.
    xx, Heather

  3. What a wonderful interview… I loved reading how she had an idea and went with it… and how she is successful … It can be scary going with our gut but can be so amazing xox ♡

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