Emmelyn Gunawan

Emmelyn Gunawan

The wind brushed over the acres of green rice fields. Amid the hues of green, is a new dining place and concept store, Le Bajo, where we enjoyed a cup of coffee and a warm conversation with Emmelyn, the person behind the scene of many renowned curated stores.

Tell us about your younger self. What was young Emmelyn like? What was on her mind?

Back then I was a quiet person, with a clear understanding of what I want. I was a fashion student, and we had tons of research-based projects. I worked hard for my studies, and of course had to manage myself through overwhelming situations, which later allow me to be comfortable if facing pressure to achieve my dream. Since my younger age, I had a dream to have my own curated boutique store. That spark still lives on to this day.

Do you think fashion is different in Melbourne, Jakarta, and Bali?

It’s not really different from my perspective. The spirit of the young generation is the same. The difference will be in production material limitation. Each area has the potential to make different things. You can get good raw materials in Bali, a good fresh idea in Jakarta, and an interesting production technique in Melbourne.

Tell us about your first store.

The first store that I opened was Escalier, with my other 2 partners which sits inside Potato Head in Bali. At first, Escalier was focused on exploring local brands. At the same time, we also look out for brands from other parts of the world. 

Our intention since the beginning was to bring unique and high-quality pieces from emerging fashion or lifestyle brands. We have a soft spot for young creatives who are passionate about creating inspiring things.

Can you tell us about the curation of Le Bajo concept store?

We are celebrating the art of tropical living, by selecting brands which have good quality and exquisite concept, and collaborate with local artisans to make exclusive pieces for Le Bajo. When people acquire pieces from our store, I hope they hold it close in appreciation of the exceptional design and craftsmanship. I want people to attach meaning to what they got from our store.

What is the trickiest part of managing people?

Making a good system. Different places need a different system, as it will enable good flow within the ecosystem. With a clear structure and scheme, comes transparency and it allows everyone in the team to work well individually and ethically.

Fom the first store until the latest, it’s really important to make practical SOP for the people whom you work with. We want a flow that works for a long term.

What qualities that you like to see in an individual?

Because I have quite a lot of experiencess working with and managing people. I’m gonna say I like someone who has different ideas, knowledge, and interests than me. Then, we can combine those ideas from these individuals and create a pool of creativity that allows us to grow as a collective. I open myself to people from different walks of life.

I also like when someone is appreciative and honest. Being honest appears very simple, but it takes a lot of bravery to practice within society nowadays.

How does Bali and Jakarta impact you as a person?

Bali is so rich with artisans. One day I got a project for Katamama Hotel’s amenities. While I was sourcing for materials, I met Cok Agungin Pejeng, Ubud. A passionate and multi-dimensional maker who creates remarkable shibori textile, exceptional batik fabric, and an avid crafter. On top of those creative endeavors, he is a mangku (temple priest), with very busy religious practices. There is another time in Tenganan village, I meet a woven bamboo artisan. In Bali I feel my body moves in ease, desiring for a continuous creative exploration.

While in Jakarta, I am more focused on my work. Strict schedule, strict activities. Being disciplined is necessary there. And also I do not really go out that much. Both Bali and Jakarta give me the good balance that I need.

What does home mean for you?

Home for me is my identity as a person, the connection with the culture and the people. My home is in Indonesia. Home also means where Chris, my husband is. We spend a lot of time together, being each other's supporters. When we are together, time is finite.

I saw you do some weaving pieces, how did you start weaving?

It was a personal project actually. I took a leave for one whole year to do the weaving project in Melbourne. Each layer of weaving was a meditation for me. The repeating movement made me relax and felt content. A little fun fact, because of that project, I met my husband, and so it is a project that I will always hold dear in my heart.

I want to weave again when I have the capacity to get free time for a period of time. We will see.

How do you spend your weekends? Is there any routine that you do?

My weekends is a time that I spend with Chris. We enjoy watching movies. Whatever we do, we enjoy each other's company. Weekends also mean time for both of our side of the family. Spending time with the big family is also a thing that Chris and I cherish.

What is your favorite place and food in Bali?

Up until now, my most favorite place in Bali is La Luciolla. Amazing place, amazing food. The older I get the more I enjoyed this place.



Emmelyn Gunawan

Written by Tiarama

Photos by Chris Bunjamin


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