10 minutes with Putri from Pubumésu

I wanted to show that Asian designers could make it on the international scene. Today we’re on Net-a-porter…

– putri soediono

So, what’s your story?

I’m a 3rd culture kid that doesn’t understand the meaning of “no” – that has been my mantra throughout my life. I studied fashion accessories design at London Cordwainers and when I graduated during the economic crisis you can imagine how many “nos” I got from job interviews and investments for what would become Pubumésu. I started the brand primarily because I wanted to show that Asian designers could make it on the international scene – we have so much culture and heritage to draw inspiration from. I remember when the Ikat trend was huge, no one knew that Ikat is a form of weaving found all over Indonesia. There were no Indonesian designers pushing the style in large international retailers and that I guess was my first challenge: to be loud and proudly Asian through my designs. When we first started we were lucky to have had a relationship with the Potatohead Bali family, and were able to test the products, price points and consumer demographics. Trial and error are my closest friends -it’s always 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. Today we’re on Net-a-porter, and boutiques in Dubai, Bali, Jakarta, Singapore, Malta, Italy, Greece, and soon to be in Paris, and Japan.

What was your biggest challenge? How did you overcome it?

Learning to wear different hats. As an entrepreneur (and for me, still a one woman show) you have to do everything yourself. I’m constantly switching between design, admin, marketing, production, and finance. With time and cash you’re able to outsource these roles but in the beginning to save costs you need to be able to do at least the basics yourself.

What are 3 things you wish you’d known when you started?

You might be shit at certain things and lack the confidence, but don’t be lazy, learn it, especially if it can save you money.

There’s no harm in asking for help. People around you are always willing to help and give back.

Find your voice, don’t copy someone else’s. People don’t just buy into the brand or product, they first need to buy into you.

What’s a secret we won’t find in any guidebooks about your home town?

I’ve lived in Singapore my whole life, and the most amazing thing about this expensive island nation is probably the cheapest thing this country has to offer: the gardens and nature reserves. My husband and I hike through MacRitchie reservoir once a month, and walk through the Botanic Gardens every week.

What are you reading / wearing / listening to / creating / watching this week?

My daily uniform is activewear. I’m not reading anything but I am listening to several history podcasts and learning from others. I’m creating a new website (and binge watching Fresh Prince of Bel Air).

Pubumesu founder Putri Soediono cut her teeth at Vivienne Westwood and Linda Farrow before launching her own label in 2011. This fan is artfully crafted to resemble a handful of conch shells. Made on the island of Java and finished with a horn ring, everything from the leather tanning, painting and distressing is achieved by hand.