Mister Zimi has been a MamaMag staple for years now, so we were thrilled to chat to Zoe this month about her brand, life and travelling with kids. Created by Melbourne husband and wife team Zoe and Jimi Paul, Mister Zimi’s unique prints and leather pieces have a cult following across Australia. But the Zimi adventure actually started in Bali through an amazing journey of design, travel, 2 kids and ‘those bold prints’!
Like many others, we’ve been to Bali and had that thought…how nice to live and work over there. Sounds blissful. But what’s the reality?
Well it’s not all sunsets and cocktails when working in Bali let me tell you, it’s an endless adventure of trying to work out everything for yourself (no google) and wifi issues and electricity black outs!
How did you take that step from imagining that Balinese life to making it happen?
When Jimi and I started to holiday in Bali, we were fascinated by everything about the country. We both knew that we wanted to live there one day but had no idea how.
Mister Zimi was born in 2008, when I got a leather jacket made by a random local tailor down a laneway in the depths of Kuta. The jacket was delivered to our hotel with the name ‘Mister Zimi’ on it. They got Mrs Zoe and Mr Jimi confused but the name stuck! I was so pleased with my jacket, I took it home and started wearing it to work. Immediately the girls in the office wanted one, and when I wore it on weekends my friends wanted one too. I decided that there might be an opportunity to do a small made-to-order production run, with the idea being that it could help pay for our next trip to Bali. Soon I had an order for 60 jackets, and that was the beginning of it all!
How do you divide your time between Bali and Melbourne these days?
These days we are mainly based in Melbourne, and spending a fair bit of time at our new house in Byron Bay. But we still travel to Bali a lot for the business. Jimi and I normally take in turns so we don’t have to bring the kids for short trips. But at least once a year we will go for a long stint, a few months or so. We have a lovely villa and a lot of friends there. Florence our 4 year old, has spent most of her life in Bali, so she is always begging us to go back to see all her Balinese friends.
How is family life different in Bali to here in Australia?
Balinese life is so different. Everyone lives together in the house, the whole family. Raising children is a joint effort between grandparents, parents, aunties, uncles, cousins. It’s actually a beautiful way of life. Ex pat life is very different there to Australia as well. We have lovely staff that work in our villa who are like our family. That of course we would never be able to have in Melbourne.
What are your top tips for traveling with kids?
Before having children we bought an iPad. After never using it I was almost going to put it on ebay. But thank god I didn’t, it is a must for planes! When our babies were young I always made sure they had something to suck i.e. a bottle or breast feeding, on take off and landing. This stops their ears from popping.
Starting up a business locally is hard enough, what extra challenges did you find doing it overseas?
Bali was amazing in terms of allowing us to push ourselves and be as creative as we wanted to be, without anyone judging our inexperience. But god was it tough. I think people thought I was living there working on my tan most of the time. It was hard work, so frustrating, most days leading to dead ends. In Bali nothing happens unless you’re there making sure it gets done. We spent so much of that first stint in Bali scootering through crazy traffic jams and heat between our factories to make sure they met the deadlines we were working towards. It was exhausting. Bali has the ability to provide amazing opportunities, but it can also break you. For every success, there are several stories of failure. It’s really hard not to just give up.
What were you doing before Zimi?
I was working in real estate! I never set out to be a fashion designer. I would have never thought I could be creative enough to do anything within a creative industr
How have you dealt with the growth and rapid success of the brand?
I think the hardest part has been building confidence in what we are capable of, regardless of how inexperienced we are. I doubt myself before every collection launch. and think it’s going to be a flop. I get upset by rude comments on social media because I am only human. I constantly have to remind myself that I cannot please everyone.
Any pinch yourself moments?
I think the day that Kourtney Kardashian contacted us, asking for a dress she loved was pretty surreal!!
Tell us about where we can experience a bit of Zimi style in Bali?
Our Bali store is in Seminyak, the heart of Bali shopping. We also rent out our villa when we’re not in Bali through airbnb. It’s been so fun to translate the Zimi vibe into our villa. It was so great picking out our favourite prints from past collections and making them into tiles for our bathroom, or cushions for our couches, or beanbags! A massive part of why we love being in Bali is because we’ve really made our villa there our second home.
Where can we find you?
You can find Mister Zimi in Seminyak, Bali.
Visit Mister Zimi locally in Albert Park and Armadale or visit them online at misterzimi.com
And rent the Bali villa at airbnb – www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/564938