Creative director and founder of S/W/F Boutique & Desiree Deravi
All our garments are handmade here in Bali and we often collaborate with local artisans. Their skills are meticulous and have proved a defining element for S/W/F.
Tell us your story – how did you get here?
The path to creating S/W/F was certainly an unconventional one. I have always had a love for fashion and was creative from a young age, however, I am a qualified Podiatrist by trade. Following a trip to Bali where I connected with an expat community that was brimming with creativity, my brand vision became clearer and the possibility of starting my own fashion line became a reality. S/W/F Boutique was born, and the island very quickly became home.
I knew very little about running a fashion brand, and so I proceeded to learn, make mistakes and grow as a creative and a businesswoman. I am completely self-taught – from creating a range, sourcing fabrics and learning the technical terms of sewing, patterns and sizing, to hiring workers and understanding shipping – I was naïve to it all. It was perhaps not the ideal path into fashion design, however, it is one that I am grateful for. I often suffer from imposter syndrome, and so this journey was not without its challenges and moments of doubt; lessons that have guided me to where I am today.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Although it feels as though the worst has passed, the pandemic was undoubtedly testing for everyone – emotionally, physically and of course financially. As a small business, we were forced to pivot – quickly – to keep the business afloat and most importantly, keep my staff employed. I learned something new about myself as a businesswoman; the capacity to reinvent oneself, or a brand, is imperative to remain relevant. We managed this with success.
What impact have you made in Bali?
All our garments are handmade here in Bali and we often collaborate with local artisans. Their skills are meticulous and have proved a defining element for S/W/F, and for this I am very grateful. Producing locally allows me to generate jobs and most importantly, uphold strict social and ethical standards for the most nurturing work environment. S/W/F is an eco-friendly brand using fabrications with a gentle footprint and non-toxic dyes, and so we continue to educate staff on the processes and general importance of this approach.
What does 2022 look like for you?
Organic brand growth continues as a top priority for the S/W/F team and I – always ensuring we remain true to the brand’s DNA. Expansion in the US market is a focus. Movement of the brand into the UK, EU and UAE is something new and exciting, and marks a significant milestone for us. My energy is focussed on a strong start in these new territories while evolving our team and expertise around the world. Further to this, it would be a thrill to see S/W/F in a major Australian department store.
What do you love most about Bali?
There is something magical about Bali. It epitomises freedom to me… the freedom to follow your dreams and be true to yourself. There is a deep sense of spirituality in both the land and people here; a gentle reminder that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. Be kind, show respect, tread lightly. Bali has provided endless opportunities and nurtured my vision every step of the way… all reasons why I will always have a soft spot for this island home.
What’s the one thing you could wear for the rest of your life?
Always and forever, an S/W/F maxi dress. There is something about the floor length fluidity that makes me feel calm and comfortable as I move throughout the day. If I could choose a second look, I’d go for a tailored trouser and vest set from my new label, Desiree Deravi. It’s an easy choice for vacation to occasion wear – insouciant chic at its finest.
Who is your Local Legend and why?
My local legend is someone I admire both personally and professionally – Shelly Norman from My Shrine Designs . A dear friend for over 10 years, I hold Shelly close to my heart and never walk away uninspired. Shelly leads an interior and architecture company specialising in residential and commercial projects and has evolved from fashion with such ease. It has been a joy to watch her take on an industry that can at times prove challenging for women. Shelly continues to grow and succeed, expanding her team each year. A true success story.
Photo credit: @lilyrose