Leah the Bali Tailor lives a double life. She traded in her corporate twin-piece to live on two coasts – Lennox Head in NSW and Canggu in Bali. She operates two leather-wear businesses, The Bali Tailor, crafting hand-made fashion items, and desmond&desmond, her leather homewares line. But Leah is a far from a double agent as possible. She loves life in the beachy slow lane and spends her days crafting meticulously and cruising the coast.
Living with Leather
Leah: After completing my degree I took on a role in risk advisory in the corporate world – my heart was telling me it wasn’t quite for me but I gave it a shot for a few years. What I learnt there will always be invaluable – both in life and business. I then decided to follow my heart, and packed away my suit and heels for a life of denim shorts and design. I began my own label desmond&desmond and I spent my time between Melbourne and Bali, learning a lot about what it takes to own your own business.
My designs are very contemporary and quite trans-seasonal. They always seem to reflect my own style and what I like personally – I have always been lucky enough to design what I love and would wear myself, and have others love it too. I have never been one to follow trends and see what I design as a style, or piece to complement a ‘look’, rather than ‘fashion’.
My favourite part of what I do now is allowing others to design their own pieces that reflect their own story and style. I always look at people and believe the way they present themselves says a lot about them personally. I love watching this evolve when working with my clients and seeing their confidence grow as they fall more and more in love with creating their own special piece, or their take on one of my designs. Its a fun process!
It’s funny to think that I have worked with leather for over ten years now and it still excites me – the textures, variations in types, colours, feel and what you can create with it. Its such a beautiful natural material to work with.
A favourite piece is still my first ever designed jacket – a classic biker style which I designed for myself, have owned for over seven years and have worn and loved it so much since. It actually was the catalyst to start the label all those years ago as was often stopped in the street with people asking where it was from, and it gave me the light bulb moment of ‘maybe I can sell these’! It’s still my go to jacket when I need something to layer. I love the chunky look with a pretty dress, or rock tee and denim.
I am always inspired by the smaller labels that have the passion and courage to get out there and take a risk in doing their own thing – leaving the corporate world to follow my heart was something I knew I just had to do, but it does take courage to do this – and that a lot of people just don’t find in themselves. I always smile to think of where I am now. These type of people, that take the courage to follow their dreams, passion and own happiness always inspire me.
Barwon Heads (Victoria) – Annies Providore
Byron Bay (NSW) – The Roadhouse, Byron Bay
Newrybar (NSW) – Harvest Café
Canguu (BALI) – Crate Cafe
Lorne (VIC) – Midi Boutique
The list is also endless – Turkey, Croatia, New York, India, the islands of Indonesia and a little home favourite, Crescent Head, NSW
Beach days, yoga, long brunch dates and sunset sessions.
Best Road Trip
I now look back and have great admiration for my parents, who would, for as young as I can remember, pack up our house in hometown Ocean Grove, and rent it out for the Summer so that we could go on holidays to my now second home Byron Bay – 4 of us kids packed into the Volvo Station Wagon. The ‘dickie seat’ was legal back then, with front seat on rotation and mum cramped in the middle to stop us kids from pulling each other’s hair out four hours in. We would drive for three days with stop offs at small motels along the way. Don McLeans American Pie and Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark were our singalongs on repeat.. Hats off to my parents for the 25-hour drive with four kids!
Dream Road Trip
Getting the best group of friends together, packing up a troopy, longboards on the roof, an iPod filled with the best tunes, and enough bikinis for every beach, sunscreen, and travelling anywhere in the world on a long road that allows us lots of stop offs at beautiful beaches and hidden secret sandy pots. Yoga at sunrise, surfing beach breaks at sunset, followed by drinks and guitars around a campfire, cooking our own seafood dinners, and talking into the early hours of the morning, sleeping under the stars, and getting up the next day to do it all again.
Find Leah at facebook.com/thebalitailor