A Day in the Life of Lorna Watson, Founder and Creative Director of STELAR

Running your own business is no easy feat. It takes a healthy dose of passion, discipline, and commitment. Ever wondered what a day in the life of a small business owner and founder is like? We’re here to give you a glimpse!

During a trip to Indonesia in 2016, designer Lorna Watson met a family of artisans in East Bali whose ancient lineage of craftsmanship and future were under threat. This led to a collaboration between the two parties, and later inspired Lorna to form a sustainable fashion brand STELAR in 2017 with the aim to re-imagine the relationships between craftsmanship and culture, community and planet.

“We co-create within these communities to re-imagine ancient skills with a collective vision that is far more exciting than a singular one. Our high quality, hand-crafted bags and accessories are rapidly becoming ‘must-haves’ in today’s international marketplace. By honoring existing traditions and techniques, and by using locally sourced and organically grown materials, we have developed a regenerative and sustainable business model that takes care of our people and our planet. Our artisans are custodians, protecting their skills for future generations, with the future of fashion lying, quite literally, in their hands.”

This week, we’re featuring what a day in the life looks like for Lorna herself, who also plays a Creative Director role in STELAR. Today she and her team work with a total of 53 artisans, making a significant impact on their livelihoods. Currently, they are crowdfunding on Indiegogo to expand their artisan community, create new jobs, and preserve the traditional skills of Balinese craftsmen for future generations.

Your support will help them reach this milestone, and in exchange, you’ll get access to their perks: a new limited edition line of weekender, tote, and clutch bags, plus accessories exclusively for backers of their campaign. Every piece is thoughtfully and sustainably designed to be multi-functional, and compliment the other pieces in the collection. Their bags have been featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Conde Nast Traveller, and many other fashion magazines.

Read on to see how she spends her day as she juggles leading the team at STELAR, running her current crowdfunding campaign, and living in Bali. Then scroll down for a brief Q&A to get to know her better and get inspired!

6:30 A.M. Like most of Bali, I wake up to the sun rising and the sound of cockerels crowing.

6:45 A.M. Yoga. I’ve been practicing for 20 years and is when I set my day and my focus. Self care is especially important when you are working long hours and under pressure.

8:15 A.M. My house overlooks a rice terrace and I love to watch Wayan, our local farmer, tending to his crops while I have coffee and a smoothie for breakfast and plan the day ahead. Then it’s all systems go! 

9 A.M. Check in with our Bali team and try to cover off urgent emails, then my day varies wildly. Some days I’m heading off to visit one of our artisan communities to work with them on new ideas and techniques, other days I’m in our studio working on new sample development or on a photoshoot. Once I start work, I generally don’t come up for air again until 12:30.

12:30 P.M. I like to stop and have lunch with whoever I’m working with that day. If I’m really lucky that means a locally grown and home cooked lunch with some of our artisans.

1:15 P.M. Check in with our Bali team and respond to anything urgent.

2 P.M. Back to whichever project I’m working on that day and ensuring everyone I’m working with is on board with the same objectives and timelines.

4:30 P.M. London calling. This is when our London office starts their day so I am on calls with our team there until around 7 or 8 P.M.

7:30 P.M. Dinner and music. I love good food and like to cook if time allows – cooking while dancing round the kitchen helps me unwind from hours on zoom!

9 P.M. Work on presentations, reply to emails, pay suppliers, catch up on anything outstanding from the day

10 P.M. Check in with loved ones and have a swim under the stars to unwind

10.45 P.M. Bed. I sleep like a baby.

Now that you’ve gotten a glimpse of what her day is like, get more inspiration in our exclusive Q&A with her below!

INDIEGOGO: How did you become an entrepreneur? 

LORNA WATSON: It was never a specific goal, but I’ve always been a lateral thinker and very motivated, and have worked with start up businesses for the past 15 years, so I guess it was inevitable that I would start something of my own at some stage. I’ve been coming to Bali for almost 20 years, inspired by the extraordinary skills within artisan communities here. Five years ago, however, I discovered that the future of these communities and their unique but under-valued skills were under severe threat due to mass manufacturing. As a result, more and more artisans have been forced to abandon their craft and find unskilled work elsewhere, at considerable social cost. For me the prospect of these communities and skills dying out is nothing less than a tragedy. I founded STELAR to revive age-old craftsmanship, regenerate communities and champion a change for good that results in real, measurable change to the fashion industry, and brings people and purpose before profit.

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INDIEGOGO: What makes your Indiegogo project unique? 

LORNA: Unlike most brands, we create our products within communities – not factories. We have created a limited edition collection for our Indiegogo campaign that means you are not only investing in a beautifully designed and handcrafted item – you are also supporting artisan communities to ensure long-term sustainable livelihoods that support them to thrive. Every item we make comes with its own unique code that connects you to the artisan who created it. By bringing the people and skills behind our collection to the forefront of everything we do, we are able to bring a renewed and elevated sense of value to their skills and support next generation artisans to continue their lineage that dates back several centuries. At the time of writing this, we are working with around 50 artisans across 4 communities, who are weaving STELAR products from their homes using locally grown or sourced materials. In many cases the artisans organically grow the materials on their own land, which is also regenerating farming within their community.

INDIEGOGO: What’s your biggest piece of advice for women who want to start their own business?

LORNA: Surround yourself with great people, and don’t be afraid to ask for advice and support. It can feel very isolated at times, so having strong support around you is a must.

INDIEGOGO: What tools would you recommend to anyone starting their own business, crowdfunding campaign, or project? 

LORNA: My iPhone 12 Pro is a life-saver. I rarely sit at a desk or laptop so I use it for email, social media, research, filming, podcasts, music, zoom calls and keeping in touch with everyone from our artisans in remote areas of Bali to my parents in Scotland! Dropbox, Google Drive, Slack, Xero, Starling, Transferwise all make running your own business and sharing information a lot more efficient. I’m also a big fan of Simon Sinek’s podcasts especially his ‘Start With Why’.

INDIEGOGO: What’s your favorite Indiegogo campaign, or a sustainable campaign you’ve recently supported?

LORNA: Given that our Indiegogo campaign is live right now it has to be ours! STELAR – Bags with Purpose. We are crowdfunding to expand our work with artisan communities, create jobs and preserve the traditional skills of Balinese craftsmen for future generations.

To support STELAR, check out their Indiegogo campaign page.

To learn more about STELAR, follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

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