Live Free with Leslie Kuster, Owner of Back From Bali.
There is no greater joy than living the life of your dreams
You know when you meet someone who just shines with enthusiasm when they talk about their favorite topic. Also, you can just tell they are fueled with passion from the minute they jump out of bed every morning. It’s inspiring, and it’s infectious.
Leslie Kuster is one such person. So filled with positivity and a can-do attitude it almost makes you feel guilty for ever doubting that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
Leslie’s story started when she went on an extended trip to Indonesia, for seven months, 25 years ago, and it transformed her life. When she returned to New York, she just couldn’t bear the idea of a mundane and boring existence commuting to and from the office. Contrary to expectations, she did not dwell on thinking how she would go back there and have the time of her life. Instead, she thought of a way to go back to her paradise island to start a business. As a result, her online web store Back to Bali was born.
“Together, they have empowered one another to live a life less ordinary.”
During her trip, she had fallen in love with the hand-made batik fabrics she had seen in Indonesia and thought she could make a profit by bringing them home and selling them in the USA. Which is exactly what she did. It sounds so simple, but it wasn’t always simple.
For more than 20 years, she has made regular trips back to Bali, designing and buying from local women, each of whom produces her own exquisite fabrics by hand, in collaboration with between 2-10 hand sewers. Nothing is mass produced. As a result, she has developed close and powerful working relationships with her suppliers, all of whom know her personally.
Leslie is an ardent supporter of female entrepreneurs and loves collaborating with the Indonesian women she met all those years ago, along with their friends and families. Together, they have empowered one another to live a life less ordinary. She admits to loving everything about the Indonesian culture; from its people, to their work ethic, and their art.
Unfortunately Batik is waning in popularity and is not made so widely anymore. The ancient tradition of painting with wax on fabric, then dying it and leaving it outside to dry in the sun is not as popular as it used to be. Be that as it may, Leslie still manages to source beautiful fabrics to make into dresses, tunics, wraps and sarongs, to share with the rest of the world.
Although she has no formal training in textiles, she puts her success down to following her instincts. This may have been inherited from her grandmother and great grandmother who ran a clothes shop together. It is also worthy of mention that her parents are both entrepreneurs. Therefore, it looks like there may be a helpful genetic trait that has given her the instinct for knowing what to buy, what price to pay, how much to sell it to, and an understanding for the market place.
Having received her MSW in social work, Leslie has worked all her life to encourage women to follow their dreams, to choose their own life path, and to be what they want to be. Before expanding her e-commerce business, Leslie ran her own coaching program called Girl Power, based in Switzerland, working with young girls aged 7-14, at the same time as working on Back to Bali.
Seven years ago, she decided to work with an e-commerce expert and consultant that helped her to develop her business online, where she now sells all her beautiful clothing. Having worked on her own all these years, she shares that it is essential to hire an expert coach to get you to the next level, and is one of the reasons for her success.
A good entrepreneur needs to know when to call in help, as there is always something new to learn and the e-commerce market isn’t one you can learn by gut instinct. There are very specific skills and strategies if you want to be successful. Especially in this rapidly developing digital age.
Her mantra has always been to Live Free and she has certainly turned her desire for a different lifestyle into a reality.
E- commerce is booming and as a result of her decision to focus solely on her clothing business, Back to Bali is now available all over the world. And now that her internet business has taken off , Leslie is really focusing on making her long time passion work. Leslie is now building an online community called Women Finding Freedom through Online Entrepreneurship where she can share her experience of building her own e-commerce business, and also sharing the mindset skills, principles, and tools needed to create success.
Her mantra has always been to Live Free and she has certainly turned her desire for a different lifestyle into a reality. For many women reading her story she is living the dream but her message is, if she can do it every woman can do it.
If you would like to see the range of clothes and accessories she produces go to Leslie’s website on www.backfrombali.com or see it on Amazon at www.backfrombaliwomen.com
To Your Best Life,
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