Living My Happily Ever After: Reinventing Life At 50
“Mom, you have more followers than me, on Instagram!” Dorian, my very artistic 28 year old son, shrieked!
It’s almost a necessity today rather than a luxury to be present on social media platforms. People remember the birthdays when Facebook notifies. You feel like an alien when your peers discuss the introduction of new emoticons on Whatsapp. A holiday is totally futile if your Instagram followers are not bombarded with the ‘fun’ you are having. Practically speaking, we live, shop, eat, and almost even breathe virtually today. I have no complaints– as far as I’m able to capitalize the opportunity as a baby boomer among the millennial lot.
I, at the age of 50, directed, designed, and developed a handbag brand named Samira Buchi New York with a collection that reflects my European style with hints of Mediterranean vibe and an American touch. My brand’s cosmopolitan range coincidentally depicts my myriad career journey to date that assisted me to reach where I’m today. You may relate to terms like designing and developing a brand. But directing? Yes, at my age, you have to direct one-self to learn the art of newer technologies and slowly, but steadily capture the means.
TEASER OF MY CHILDHOOD
Hailing from a small town near Lake Geneva called Lausanne in Switzerland, I too, like many others, dreamt of living in the concrete jungle of New York. Coming from a family of nomadic roots, my childhood revolved around the arts of big cities and the cultural diversities of the places we travelled. I remember visiting New York City in 1979, standing in the middle of a gritty SoHo street, and fancying that one day I would live here.
TRAILER OF FIRST INNINGS OF LIFE
We hear about elaborate career achievements from today’s generation just as they enter their twenties. It’s awe-inspiring and at the same time intimidating. As for me, at that young age, I was still on exploration within myself with only strength in mind – I hone a very active right-side brain encompassing creativity. When I graduated in Hotel Management from Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, I realized my love for hotel interiors and décor enticed my senses more than managing it. And so began my love affair with La Dèsirade – my first ever quaint furniture restoration workshop for interior designing.
13 years into Interior Designing, my heart pumped in search of more. I worked as a freelancer at Swiss women’s magazine, Femina, to beautify the Home Interior section pages. In parallel, I explored my infatuation with photography and life as food prop stylist, laying out some alluring, eye-appealing tables. I perused my passion for capturing the essence of a product not only through photography but also with an added touch of graphic design through the incorporation of ambitious ventures, Coucou Clock Agency and Swiss Cook Book, Les Délices de Manuella. My learning curve never diminished. I continued to keep myself abreast of evolving technologies, literally mugging up the InDesign and Corel Draws of the world. All this was accomplished while I brought up my two handsome sons.
AND THEN, I FOUND MY CALLING
After 26 years of navigating in the visual communication industry and my children out of the nest, I packed my bags and boarded on an adventure to NYC at the age of 50. I have always felt like I belong to many parts of the world, mainly due to the mix of my parents’ ancestry, with my mother’s side being half Italian and German, and my father’s side of Tunisian nomad roots. I identify myself inclining towards Mediterranean culture, full of spices captured under one soul. Moving to NYC felt like the natural next step in my expedition. It was a moment of truth to instill my forte of restarting a life in a city that came with new dynamics.
My quest to know more helped me to pursue the Accessory Design major at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Just the touch at supple leather intrigued me instantly to continue my focus on perfecting the craftsmanship that strengthens and endures the quality of this material. While a student, I dug up a Yves St. Laurent suede skirt I had purchased years ago for $5 at a thrift store. At the time, it didn’t fit me well aesthetically, but I loved how it felt. I let my creativity flourish and turned it into a bag. It seemed like I had found my calling! For the next two years, I learned everything about leather, how to craft it, and designed line after line in the FIT workshop.
Samira Buchi New York
Samira Buchi New York is an orchestrated outcome of a serene marriage between my instincts with learnings at FIT. I initiated with a range that gives my buyers a glimpse of my travel memoir. Designing the Nativ Collection was like a vague sight of childhood. Every bag under the Nativ range draws references from Berber culture and era of Guèrrab’s. Its utility combines luxury with simplicity, and functionality. The line embodies who I’ve always been, living in the mindset of a vagabond. Designed uniquely to suit the wearer’s needs – the handbags, crafted from genuine leather, are a spectacle of a heavy broad stitching pattern on every corner.
It has an avant-garde touch of crafting whilst sticking to traditional method of flatline, allowing the bag to form its own shape making it significant for all essential states of being. The variety of hues for handbags and supplementary props like fringe gives a bohemian feel. The texture of the leather is sinuous, unlined and soft attributing to a minimalist, free-spirit. The handbags always take on the attitude and spirit of the woman who is carrying it– a woman that walks with empowerment surrounding femininity.
I design and construct my distinctive and individualistic designs in the heart of Long Island City, Queens. A sunlit workshop surrounded by other artists and emerging pioneers of the design industry– I have embraced the diversity, and the brokenness of the place. There is a mixture of people and ethnicities. It’s real, it’s vintage, it’s rugged, but it’s amongst these streets is where I find my fire. It resonates with my vision for my brand, a feeling that anything is possible as long as you are willing to take risks.
Through this exploration, I continue to redefine myself at an unusual age for an ordinary person. It doesn’t stop my love for creation, just like my previous career ventures into interior design, photography, styling– they all were tied by a string of aesthetics and working with my hands to deliver authenticity. The driving force behind my brand is the story and energy I put into the product and most importantly for my artistic thrall.