Plain Tiger Spotlight: BrunnaCo

A Balinese daydream

By Renee Fortune

Once upon a time, on a fortuitous day, Helga Ida Ayu; an Indonesian immigrant living in California, found herself at the beach. As the baking sun pulled larger and larger crowds, she found herself amidst a sea of bodies, each of them swept up by the bliss of a perfect day. And while there was something magical about being a part of the crowd, Helga couldn’t quite shake her longing for a moment of solitude – a moment to be “alone with everybody.” 

Her solution was a hat, with a brim wide enough to hide under but narrow enough to keep the rest of the world just beyond her horizon. She created that hat, and went on to create many more like it – drawing on the classic shapes and silhouettes that milliners have made famous, but bringing a bit more to the design. Her hats were objects made to stand-out in a world that wants us all to fit in. 

That delightful anecdote is the story of the earliest beginnings of BrunnaCo. Inspired by the sights and pounds of her home island, Helga has created a collection that speaks the visual and texture-rich language of Balinese ingenuity.

The tranquility of the Borneo rainforest, the majesty of Mount Rinjani in Lombok and the bustling cityscapes of Java are brought together in an eclectic mix of style accessories that pop with colour and character. 
Fashion for the future

BrunnaCo makes beautiful, wearable objects. But it’s also about so much more. It’s a testament to the importance of uplifting and empowering the next generation of Balinese artisans, preserving cultural heritage and giving rural communities the tools they need to sustain their livelihoods.

BrunnaCo is Helga’s way of showcasing the artisanal talent and unique craftsmanship of her native land. To bring each piece to life, she employs small teams of artisans from the surrounding communities. Most of them are women who are given the space they need to work from home, while honing their craft and taking care of their households. As she explains:

“BrunnaCo has become a vessel for our Balinese artisans to share their magnificent craftsmanship, traditions and stories with the world. Every piece is made with tremendous respect and love for our Mother Earth, with carefully selected materials and working methods that have a minimal impact on the environment.”

A showcase of iconic accessories 

This is a range of showstoppers like the Petite Naga Macrame Bucket Bag. In it, the retro style of the 70s makes a strong comeback, with contemporary take on colour-blocking. Naga means ‘cobra’ in Sanskrit – a name chosen as an ode to the archetypal snake charmer’s basket. 

No one can walk past the Arnoldi Hand-beaded Clutch without doubling back for another look. Its design features intricate beadwork and a classic shape. And a satin scrunch handle provides the perfect finishing touch. 

Then there’s the Simone Gingham Beret Hat – an accessory that will have you stepping confidently onto the red carpet at Fashion Week or aboard a yacht heading to some far-off tropical destination.

These are the kind of pieces that were made for women who believe in dressing up their accessories rather than the other way around. It’s all about the statement. And boy do these accessories succeed in leaving a lasting first impression. 

Wear it with a touch of Indonesia imagination

Talking about the design inspiration for the brand, Helga says that: “BrunnaCo is deeply rooted in Balinese culture and tradition. For Balinese people, nature is the ultimate source of life. Nature nurtures us, and we need to treat it with respect. 

We believe that nature is a mystical realm that evokes peacefulness and establishes balance. Based on this belief, every design process starts with a deep sense of admiration for our natural resources, as well as the idea of preserving and giving back to our environment.”

A chance to do things differently

From the very beginning of the design process, Helga and her team map out each piece’s life cycle, striving at all times to encourage circularity and prevent wastage. To do this, the team works with vegan materials like natural straw, bamboo, as well as upcycled and recycled deadstock. 

You won’t find any unrecyclable materials in the range – that means no virgin
polyester, nylon or polyamide. The use of virgin plastic is very sparingly used and reserved only for the manufacturing of closures and buttons; to ensure optimal durability and the longevity of each piece. And then finally, when BrunnaCo’s creations are ready to ship off to customers, they arrive in sustainably produced packaging made of materials like cassava, cornstarch and recycled plastic. 

You’ll soon discover that much of the magic behind BrunnaCo derives from a place of reverence for life. And as Helga concludes:

“The creative style of BrunnaCo represents that sum total of our recollections of life in Bali. Life is very different here. Time seems to move slower in Bali and the lush natural landscape beckons you to come closer to the things that matter most. Ours is a collection designed to bring to life the notion of serenity, even in the most frenetic environments. It marks a return to the sea, to the sand and most importantly, to the self.”
$155.50 USD
$87.50 USD