Nina Hadinata and Stephanie Vermaas run one of the coolest concept stores in Bali.
OK ladies, a quick roundup of who you are …
Steph: Hello I’m Steph, I can’t stop taking photos, and I swear in my past life I was a desert wanderer from Yucca Valley. I also like anything retro and kitschy.
Nina: Hey, I’m Nina and I’m addicted to good food and good company. I also make parties for a living along with running our shop, This Is A Love Song.
It’s a song title isn’t it? … are you just big PiL fans or does this say something else about what you’re doing?
Steph: Not a fan at all! But the name is actually the title of an interview we read in a magazine with John Lennon’s son, Sean, and his girlfriend, Charlotte Kemp Muhl.
Nina: And it also represents our unity together and the people we work with. So we thought the title suited and would be the name of the store and clothing.
What are you up to?
Steph: We are in San Francisco … yep, a long way from Bali, which is where we do what we do and that is run a store and a clothing line. I also design jewellery, which I call RBRTH. And Nina does …
Nina: …the same thing. We’re currently on our US holiday-slash-work trip, getting all inspired for our new collection and summer series for Love in Tents.
Your concept store on Jalan Laksmana is filled with quirky fashion wonder – how does it all come together?
Steph: We wanted something different. When we started, stores were very minimalistic and pretty but all selling the same thing, just in a different space. We had the space because it used to be Nina’s bar – Home Café – which closed down because of a psycho neighbour (god bless her) so we basically turned that into a store. We only had two thousand dollars so we had to spend wisely. Luckily we had a hell of a lot of time which we spent searching for recycled wood and alternative ways to make the interiors and displays. At the time no one in Bali was using toilet pipes as racks or collaging old wood and drilling them into the walls. We even got a bunch of old barrels and made a jewellery display.
Nina: We didn’t plan it. It all sort of pieced together day by day with things we liked individually and collectively, so this is our love song.
How do you pick the people you work with?
Steph: Some were already friends to begin with and others we became friends with through working together. Either way it’s got to feel good to make it work. Right now we have a really good team behind us and we feed off each other’s creativity … and have so much fun at the same time that it doesn’t ever feel like work.
Nina: We kind of picked each other. Over the past couple of years I found myself surrounded by very talented people – especially when it came to the local brands, and realised there was no platform for these brands in Bali, so it was only natural for us to bring together a group of people that we already loved and admired.
What’s important to you in life?
Steph: Family, love, travel and a pair of matching socks! Oh, food is in there too.
Nina: Family in every form. Whether it’s blood or a good mate.
What defines cool for you?
Steph: Not trying to be cool is cool for me. Just be yourself.
Nina: Someone who’s comfortable in her/his own skin, not in the outfit they chose that day.
What does money mean to you?
Steph: It’s in my wallet but it always wants to leave so I don’t like it too much. But we always work out our differences.
Nina: I would like to say that it doesn’t mean much, but the truth is it’s got to mean something, right? I don’t need all the money in the world … just enough to comfortably look after myself and the people that I love.
We know the saying “Show Business” – without the Business there’s no Show. Are you financially savvy?
Steph: I suck. But Nina’s Chinese sign is a rat and they’re good with keeping the numbers in order so she’s in charge of that. Phew.
Nina: I am all about the business and will never leave you without a show.
How do you see yourselves at 50?
Steph: I’ll get back to you in 25 years.