Sep 30, 2020
Every business owner will tell you that entrepreneurship is hard
and it takes time. Rarely do you find a “silver bullet” or the
thing that leads to your “overnight success.” Most overnight
successes are really 5, 10, 30, 50 years in the making. Nothing
happens overnight, especially in the fashion industry. My guest
today has spent the last 15 years growing an incredible ethical
fashion brand that is changing lives, and changing trends. Belinda
Kazanci is the founder of Bel
Kazan, and ethical women’s wear brand made with modern
women in mind: Empowered, adventurous, independent spirits. Belinda
started Bel Kazan after a life-changing journey to Bali, Indonesia.
From the delicate flower offerings that lined the streets to their
vibrant textiles and joyful spirits, she felt an unparalleled sense
of inspiration among the people of Bali. It was then that Belinda
decided to uproot her life in Los Angeles, determined to make her
vision of a socially and environmentally responsible apparel line
real. I can’t wait to share Belinda with the Business with Purpose
3:52 - The Belinda 101
- Belinda Kazanci is the owner and designer of the
brand Bel Kazan, that specializes in women’s clothing made from
original prints in Bali and uses sustainable and environmental
practices. The goal is that the Bel Kazan garments have minimal
impact on the environment.
- Belinda and Bel Kazan have been in business for 15
+ years now! They built their own factory in Bali from the ground
up and have been training women and men from villages in skilled
training like sewing, quality control, and more. They’ve been
slowly growing their business through this skills training
- Belinda has been a singer and songwriter all of her
life. She has always been doing music, and she felt like her only
other creative outlet was through fashion. Her family comes from
the textile business in Istanbul, which is also where Belinda was
born. Much like music, she’s been around textiles her whole
- Textiles and creative expression through clothing
has always been an interest of Belinda’s, but she never thought it
would take off into a career. In 2005, she took a course with the
Landmark Forum where she met a woman who spoke about her business
in Bali. She and Belinda connected after the talk and that’s how
Belinda was introduced to the manager she has now.
- After their initial conversation, Belinda booked
trip to Bali within two weeks! She fell in love with the people,
the culture, the textiles, and she started sewing her own designs
with help from local women along the way. Slowly, it turned into an
independent business with its own factory!
- And before all of this, Belinda was already a
singer-songwriter who grew up playing jazz flute, singing in
choirs, and was even in a band called The Echo Cell, and played all
over Los Angeles for many years! She’s also written and created
albums as well as worked on a few TV show and written songs for
- All of Belinda’s grandparents were in the textile
business. They sold and purchased textiles, and both of her
grandmothers were also seamstresses who made beautiful clothes for
her and her mom growing up. Her parents own a dry cleaning and
alterations business. It taught Belinda about how style, how care
for fabric as well as production and purchasing.
11:18 – It’s Going to Be Successful
- The timing of the Landmark Course aligned with
where Belinda was in her life, and she left feeling like anything
was possible. She was ready for a change, and she fell in love with
Bali. She was like a sponge, learning about the culture and getting
to know people around her. She really felt a warm welcome from the
- She also started falling in love with culture,
textile, and colors. Belinda wanted to find a way to bring two
worlds together while modernizing the textiles but also keeping
their cultural feel.
- The plan was never an intentional move toward big
production. Everything started very small scale, and even with
their own factory now, is still relatively small.
- Belinda uses what she calls a “lean production
model” which means each order is “cut to order.” When an order is
placed, the garment is then cut, sewn, made, and shipped. Having
their own factory allows Bel Kazan the luxury of not having to meet
minimum order requirements.
- Reducing waste has always been a value of Bel
Kazan, but they also now look at what fabrics are sustainable,
garment wearability, their impact on the environment, and more. All
garment cuttings are upcycled and donated to villages that need
baby and kids clothing.
22:33 – 15 Years, Humble Beginnings, Calculated
- There’s a statistic that most business fail within
the first 18 months. Belinda is now 15 years in with Bel Kazan. I
mentioned that things start small with Bel Kazan, but go all the
way back to the beginning and it started even more humbly with no
investments and $1,500 that was borrowed, and run in a garage while
Belinda continued working full time.
- Slow strategic growth and minimizing spending
helped Belinda and Bel Kazan get off the ground, as does continued
awareness of the budget and spending carefully and conservatively,
minimizing costs as much as possible.
- Taking risks and putting Bel Kazan out there has
also truly paid off for Belinda. She’d always dreamed of having Bel
Kazan garments in Anthropologie, so she had an artist in Bali paint
a picture of the Anthropologie window with Bel Kazan dresses in the
window. She shipped it to Anthropologie’s buying office with
samples of each dress.
- A year later, an Anthropologie representative
contacted her to tell her that Anthropologie saw one of her pieces
and a partnership formed. The store loves Bel Kazan prints and does
a lot of exclusive pieces with them. It’s been a great partnership
with new projects starting regularly. A face mask partnership is on
the way now!
- It’s a great start to see a big fashion corporate
company partnering with a sustainable brand. All the money made
from masks with go toward helping Bel Kazan sewers and keeping them
employed during Covid-19!
30:51 – Working Vision
- Belinda would love to see her prints in stores like
HomeGoods. So many people compliment Bel Kazan prints (which are
all created by Bel Kazan and copyrighted!) and ask for them on
pillows and baby clothes.
32:07 – Getting to Know Our Guest
- Get to know some fun things about Belinda like who
she’d choose to sit next to on a 13-hour flight to Bali, which of
her pet peeves is the strangest, how she’d prove she’s from the
future if she could time travel 400 years into the past, and of
course, what it means to Belinda to run a business with
8:21 - “Well it’s a process, and even though I think
one is writing a song and the other one is designing a garment, the
process is very similar. There are different types of steps, but
it’s all about details and they all kind of work together.”
19:04 - “What we can now do is,
maybe (if) we have some fabric left over, we can rework that fabric
into a new style so it’s not just wasted.”
About Belinda Kazanci and BEL KAZAN:
Behind every collection is designer Belinda Kazanci,
who started BEL KAZAN after a life-changing journey to Bali,
Indonesia. From the delicate flower offerings that lined the
streets to their vibrant textiles and joyful spirits, she felt an
unparalleled sense of inspiration among the Balinese people. It was
then that Belinda decided to uproot her life in Los Angeles,
determined to make her vision of a socially and
environmentally-responsible apparel line real.
Today her time is split between the BEL KAZAN
production facility in Bali and her studio in Los Angeles. She is
committed to giving back to the culture and people that gave her a
renewed sense of purpose.
BEL KAZAN womenswear is made with modern women in
mind: empowered, adventurous, independent spirits. Inspiration is
taken from around the globe to create bold prints and effortless
silhouettes that easily take wearers from day to night, and quickly
become wardrobe staples. Every BEL KAZAN garment is crafted in our
personally-constructed factory in Bali, using traditional
techniques for an authentic, timeless feel. Learn
more about our design process, fabric choices, and the art
of creating each print by hand.
Thank you to our partners of the show:
Did you know I have an ethical brand directory?
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The Lemonade Boutique
This episode is sponsored by The Lemonade Boutique, a
women’s clothing with a cause store. Featuring ethically made and
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women facing extreme challenges such as trafficking, poverty, and
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