Designer Interviews

Deborah Sams Co-founder of bassike

August 12, 2015

Describe your role

Co-founding Director of Bassike.

A day in the life?

When I wake up I do a 20-minute meditation, then have breakfast with the family. Twice to 3 x a week I do some yoga & get Jett to kindy. I then go up to our Palm Beach office which is the design studio and either work on fabric development, designs for new collections, fittings & numerous other meetings which include general day to day business operational meetings, financial meetings, marketing etc. My days are always back-to-back from when I arrive that is why I try do something like meditation or yoga to keep me stress free.

Did you always envision pursuing a career in fashion?

Yes, it’s in my blood. My father worked in the industry for various denim brands as I was growing up so it was always around me.

Tell us about your start and background 

I started working in retail for companies like Esprit and Marcs, then went on to General Pants. This is where I got a cross section of experience working with vertical brands, high end brands like Yohji, Dries and the Marcs brand then at General Pants more street wear and denim labels as a buyer. I also worked for Ksubi then (Tsubi) in it’s hey day and learnt so much working there from product, to local and international wholesale & general business operations. It was an exciting time and was really the launching pad to giving me the confidence to start Bassike with Lou.

Deborah Sams Parlour X Designer Interview

How did you meet Mary Lou Ryan to create Bassike?

Lou and I became really good friends working at General Pants where we met then we both worked at Tsubi together.

Bassike has been embraced by Australians whole heartedly. How do you stay true to its core philosophy while still progressing forward? 

Everything we do comes from the heart & soul of Lou and myself. We follow our instinct in our decision making from design, marketing, building our team and the growth of the business. If something doesn’t feel right or natural to us we don’t do it.

How has Bassike evolved since inception?

We started with our locally produced organic cotton jersey then as opportunities presented if it felt right we took them. For example we were introduced to a very artisanal bespoke denim family in Japan who had a small factory that produced the most amazing denim. That was 3 years into the business and we still work with them today. Our RTW collection evolved through our customers wanting more from us and having the opportunity to work back with a small fabric mill in Italy that we design most of our fabrics with.

The Bassike business has also developed both from a wholesale business to a local and international retail business.  We now have over 70 employees who are all hand picked but the company still feels small like a family and we are very proud of the people and culture we have created within our company.

Has there been a favourite moment in your career thus far?

Its such an exciting time in our business now with the opening of our first international store in Venice, California in Sept as well as recently winning the Prix de Marie Claire award for best fashion brand was pretty special.

Deborah Sams Parlour X Designer Interview

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned since starting the label?

Stay focused, work hard, be patient, keep it simple.

Are business skills as important as one’s design skills? 

Absolutely you need a balance of both – and an amazing team behind you.

What does the future of the Australian Fashion industry look like?

Bright! We have so many talented designers in this country.

Which brands (local or international) are you following right now?

Right now I would have to say Louis Vuitton – its very exciting what is happening here with Nicholas at the helm.

I also love Céline, its simple with beautiful quality.

Have you met anyone along the way that has made an impact in your life?

So many people its hard to list them. I would say where I am at today professionally is the result of different experiences I have had over the years working in the industry. My one good friend and mentor Jillian Davison has recently moved from Australia to New York to head up US Glamour. She I would say I have learnt a lot from and I miss her!

What is your personal style philosophy? 

I only wear beautifully made clothing, quality natural fabrics, well cut & classic.

Deborah Sams Parlour X Designer Interview

How do you balance motherhood with work? 

I think you need clear boundaries between the two & to make sure you work enough to be productive and spent quality time with your children.

Im really lucky I work for myself so the business operates around the needs of my son Jett.

I also have a very supportive husband and an amazing PA.

How important is the international market to your brand?

Our strategy has always been build your business foundation on your home turf. Once you have a solid team and financials as well as brand following international will come. Its taken us 9 years to get to this point where we feel that the timing is right to launch internationally with our focus being the USA & Japan.

As your flagship Los Angeles store in Venice Beach prepares to launch, what’s next for Bassike? 

We are not getting too ahead of ourselves. We need to focus on getting the store up and running and profitable then we will think about store number 2. The plan is to take it nice and slow 🙂

What advice would you give to a young emerging designer?

Go and work for someone good and learn the trade before you try and go out on your own.

You can find Bassike on Instagram at @bassike

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