In our brand spotlight, we feature Abound brands who are ready for retail. This week we sat down with Helga Ida Ayu, the founder of Brunna Co. Brunna Co. sells nature-based fashion accessories and home goods, is based in La Jolla, California, and has been in business for two years.
Robin: Why did you decide to start Brunna Co.?
Helga: Balinese people are known for their craftsmanship and when we create things, we always use natural sources as their main material because our land is so blessed with natural resources. We want to share and inspire the world so that we can incorporate natural resources into our everyday life, especially to our fashion choices.
We believe that we can preserve the well-being of our environment through the things that we choose to wear and use. That’s why we always strive to make fashion and home-goods that are stylish and relevant to today’s style.
We want to inspire people to make a switch to ethical and eco-friendly goods. This way, we can help create balance in our environment, reduce waste, and also support small artisans in Bali. We want our Balinese artist to be able to explore their talents and preserve local Balinese culture.
R: How did you make your first prototype? What changes have you made to your product since then?
H: I started our journey making pillow cases. I’ve been collecting Indonesian vintage handwoven fabrics for years and when I moved to the US, I quit my graphic designer job and was looking for new jobs.
I then started sewing my old fabric collections and selling them on Etsy, and that’s how I began collecting woven baskets which I mostly used as decoration for my pillows’ promotional photos. Months after that, I tried to sell the woven baskets too, and the market response were great.
Since then, I continued making various types of baskets and finally beach bags. Now we have more woven bag collections and keep on exploring new types of products. We always want to surprise our clients with what we can make and design.
We also always open our door to new artisans who are willing to work hard, try new things, learn new methods, and innovate. We strive to create unique pieces that represent our culture, as well as our commitment to making eco-friendly pieces that are relevant to today’s lifestyle.
R: How do you make your product? What’s your process like?
H: All of our products are handmade. It really involves the whole artisan team and farmers to create even the smallest piece of our collection. We work closely with small artisan communities in many villages in Bali, Java, and Borneo to create and design our collection.
They then collaborate with local farmers who provide the materials for our collection. Until recently, I still made some of the tassels and pom-poms for our bags. Our team is still growing every day and we work very hard to be able to fulfill our clients’ growing demand and present the finest craftsmanship they can possibly enjoy.
R: What’s your day to day like? Do you have any favorite and least favorite parts?
H: I start my day by checking my emails, answering messages and checking on production plans which I make the night before. My days are mostly about fulfilling orders or thinking about new designs, and I love it. I communicate with our artisans every day to check the production progress in Bali and make new samples.
R: What was your initial investment? How did you get the money?
H: We started with a very small amount of money we accumulated from selling pillowcases. Every time we gain profit, I invest some of it on making new collections.
R: Where was the first place you sold your product? Where do you sell your product at now?
H: Etsy was our first location. Now we sell on our own website, Faire, and now Abound!
R: Where would you love to sell your products in the future?
H: We’d love to get into Anthropologie one day.
R: What’s your marketing like? Is social media an important part of your business? If so, how?
H: We don’t have a big marketing budget, so social media is really important for us. We get many new clients from Pinterest. It’s just really crazy how Pinterest helps us spread our collection’s pictures to inspire new people to use our nature-based products.
R: What are some of the most frustrating challenges and/or moments you’ve had with Brunna Co.?
H: Now that we do wholesale, we have to be more careful with our financing because we have to prepare for a bigger production. I think the biggest challenge is being able to stock up on time to fulfill our clients’ orders.
R: What are some of your greatest achievements and victories you’ve had with Brunna Co.?
H: I don’t feel that we have reached our greatest achievements yet, but being featured in Oprah Magazine, Real Simple Magazine, and Good Housekeeping Magazine are definitely the peaks of our journey.
My true happiness is to see how proud our artisans are when they see their handmade products are loved by people worldwide. This gives them confidence and hope.
R: What advice do you have for people who want to sell a product?
H: I think it’s important to understand that when we create products, we don’t think about ourselves anymore. We think about our clients, about the people we work with, about our impact toward our environment, and about how our products will give a positive impact to our future.
When we make things that bring positive meaning to the world, we will find the inspiration that will drive us to do the right thing.
R: What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
H: The ability to create things that we believe will bring good impact to the world. Some things we make don’t make an instant profit, but we’re happy that eventually each of our products finds its own market.
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