Mary Justice Thomasson goes off-piste with Trudi Christensen, founder of the brand dare2wear. Images: Mark Carolan.
TRUDI, tell us a about your background …
For me it’s always been about fitness and fashion. I started dancing at the age of two in my home country, Norway, with ballet and jazz and as I got a little older I added modern to the mix, and at about age 10 I started ballroom dancing. I used to enter competitions all the time and afterwards I would hit the ski slopes. After my studies I went to London to pursue professional dancing then I got a degree in personal fitness and I am a certified trainer. Later I got into fashion and worked with different brands.
What brought you to Bali?
I came here to fulfill my dream. Bali is both spiritual and creative so it’s the perfect environment for my vision. The workers here are artists themselves so it makes creating with them a collaborative effort. I’ve been working on this dream for more than a decade. I saw there was a gap in the market for cool, high quality fitness-wear. I wanted a perfect fit, edgy, trendy and feminine. Also the great yoga here was a draw for me.
There are always business challenges on Bali – what’s yours?
Communication with employees is sometimes difficult as their understanding is very different to my European culture. But we get there in the end. I am really pleased with my staff who love working at dare2wear as we have great benefits and a lot of fun in the factory. Each piece we make is personally inspected by hand.
Do you want to make a difference in Indonesia?
My brand works well in Indonesia and I have wholesale agreements in Surabaya and Jakarta. I employ a lot of people. I have a great rapport with my staff and we have a lot of laughs.
Who is the typical dare2wear customer?
We don’t have a typical customer. In fact, that was one of my inspirations for designing the brand: to make women of all sizes feel good about themselves. We cater for every type of woman and we see all types walk into the shop – from supermodels to teenagers to mature ladies.
What was your inspiration?
Besides wanting women to feel good about themselves we wanted clothing that could go from the studio to the street. You can do a class in the morning, have lunch with your girlfriends or throw on a jacket and have drinks in the evening. Our clothes are multifunctional and above all colourful, fabulous and fun.
I know you work out all the time – what would be your ideal workout day?
Get up in the morning – not always on a Monday – start the day off with Vinyasa flow yoga and then a walk on the beach with my gorgeous dogs and lovely husband. After a light lunch I might take in a class in the afternoon: I like Total Body Fit, TRX, and I love Muai Thai. Basically you don’t want to rob me on the street, you won’t get away with my handbag alive!
What charity do you support?
We support Solemen. Robert, the founder, is good friend and he works with disadvantaged people in Bali of all ages that wouldn’t have any help at all without him. I can see that my support goes directly to the people that need it. I love this guy.
Do you have a life philosophy?
Take life as it is … staying healthy, being healthy is a priority of mine … I’m not a fanatic … I like to party but I balance it out after a night on the tiles. I work it off the next week.
How would you describe yourself in a word?
What’s your personality – high strung or laid back?
I have a strong personality: determined, stubborn, don’t tell me what to do … once I’ve made up my mind that’s it.
If you weren’t working what would you do?
Skiing around the world or sailing the seven seas. Being in nature is what I love. You feel free and have an impact with nature. I feel fresh when I’m in the elements. I love sailing in a storm. I’ve never been a beach bum … I like to be active.
What do you hold close to your heart?
My son is the most precious thing in my heart.
Your creative muse?
I like Dolce and Gabanna, Christian Louboutin shoes, Steve Madden … cool, funky brands as well as Stella McCartney. British design has more of an edge and it’s creative. I lived in London, I like everything British, the fashion, their attitude – it’s very raw and open.
What makes you forget about the world around you?
Yoga and meditation is my escape from the world.
What’s on your bucket list?
Heli-skiing in Japan in powder snow up to my waist. I haven’t seen the Taj Mahal, yet – I know it sounds clichéd – but I want to go. I also want to see my brand expand globally. I feel like I’m on a mission.