Mai Miyama from Aila Blue | Destiny

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M A I  M I Y A M A

This interview is extra special for me, it involves a little something called destiny.

Around 12 months ago I came across Mai Miyama's Instagram account through a friend, she had an incredible Bali wedding and I was extremely happy to have found someone else who was getting married in Bali who had similar taste to myself.

Mai posted about her wedding video and I fell in LOVE! Until that moment I didn’t even want a wedding video, I thought they were mega cheesy and awkward. I got in contact with Mai and asked who did her wedding video, and by that afternoon we had also booked the same talented Andy Elliot to do ours, I am forever grateful that Mai had put us in contact with Andy, our wedding video is beyond amazing and I will cherish it forever {Check out Mai's magical wedding day at the bottom of this post}.

From then on Mai and I just touched base every now and then through Instragram.

Fast-forward to March 2013 and Mr Bell and I had just landed in Bali for our wedding, surprisingly Mai had just arrived as well. Mai being the gorgeous soul that she is said she had a little present to give me before our wedding, I was overwhelmed that this beautiful person that I had never met in “real” life wanted to give me a gift. We organised to meet at our hotels, little did we know we were both staying in the exact same place just two doors down from each other in the middle of the rice fields of Canggu!

It was the craziest experience, and it was absolute destiny that we were meant to meet in Bali. Talk about a small world…. We were so close to each other that when I would jump on my laptop, Mai’s MacBook would pop up on my network, it was beyond crazy to me that two people who live no where near each other and had never met booked the exact same accommodation in the middle of Canggu. It blew my mind and Mai’s for quite some time. It’s one of those stories that warms your heart and makes you think that things like this don't "just happen", they happen for a reason. 

Mai is not only an extremely kind and beautiful soul, she is one hell of a designer! Aila Blue is her baby, and here is Mai’s story. 

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Tell us about AILA BLUE the label and about yourself, how did you start designing?

My love of fashion began when I was very little. I was always a bit more enamored with clothing than the average child. When I was 5 I was obsessed with dresses and I refused to wear anything until I had done a proper “twirl test” to ensure my frock had enough dazzling spin to it. In high school I spent my weekends planning my outfits for the week ahead all written neatly in my journal complete with accessories. OBSESSED.

Fast forward to college and I began my studies as a fashion design major but was craving a more traditional studies experience. I graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Business Marketing & Entrepreneurial studies. Shortly after I started a small production company where my partner and I created action sports video content for clients like Anheuser-Busch. We went on to create a documentary that toured the film festival circuit bringing in several awards. But I wasn’t satisfied; I was using my entrepreneurial skills to help someone else live out their dream. It was time to chase mine.

Aila Blue began with my love affair with the magical island of Bali and a very broken heart. There is something so cathartic about pouring yourself into a passion when you are at your most vulnerable. It is a point in time when you are more exposed then ever before and able to tap into your heart’s desire. Creativity is the spawn of emotion and my emotional journey during that difficult time enabled me to finally chase a dream I had since I was very little.

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What inspires your designs?

I draw inspiration from a vast expanse of interests. First and foremost is my love of travel and different cultures. I’m extremely inspired by the Balinese culture. Particularly their unique ikat prints. Each season I create my own original ikat print inspired by vintage textiles I find while treasure hunting. I’m also very inspired by history. I adore all things vintage and the story it tells. I love the juxtaposition of vintage and modern. A delicate lace ruffle on an edgy backless dress. Or a vintage floral print on a modern day playsuit.

I am very curious about creative peoples homes, what does your place look like?

I am a firm believer that your home is your sanctuary. A private space that should reflect your personality and create serenity. We live such techno speed lives, a home should be your escape from the chaos. My husband and I purchased a humble little home at the base of a rainforest just near the Great Barrier Reef. We spent 6 months renovating doing much of the work ourselves. It was ambitious and overwhelming but in the end very satisfying.

My love of contrasting elements is very evident from the look inside my home. We have a very modern canvas with clean white walls and a white leather couch with new timber floors. But all of our accent pieces are the real personality.  Our entry hall houses our custom seashell chandelier we had made for our wedding in Bali. And my record collection that I began in my teens sits in the living room. Along with all of our treasures from world travels. And I have a major seashell obsession. So there are glass jars filled with them everywhere. Brightly colored throw pillows and zebra printed cowhide rug. Very eclectic.  Very us.

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You spend most of your time between Australian and Bali, designing and producing your clothes, (lucky lady).  What is it about Bali that you love so much?

I fell in love with Bali many many years ago. Of all the places I’ve travelled to in my life, it is my favorite constant. Life simplifies when I’m in Bali. I’m reminded of what is important to me – love, laughter and a good sunset. There is so much creative energy everywhere you turn. It’s a haven of inspiration. And I love how everything in Bali is hand crafted. There is time, love and commitment spent on each little detail. From the difficult stitches of a corset, to the hand sweeps of the silk screen print, to the tiny sequin patterns stitched by needle and thread. It’s all so very special.

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For all the Bali lovers, what are you favourite places to hang out in Bali? Food, shopping, swimming? We want to know your picks of the bunch.

Bali has so much to offer and can appeal to many different tastes. For me an ideal day would begin with outdoor yoga at Desa Seni in Canggu, the most perfect storybook eco-village, then breakfast at Biku. I adore their sweet corn cakes. One of my dearest and oldest friends, Chandra Tandjung owns a restaurant called the Balcony in Kuta, attached to her family’s hotel Un’s. It always feels like home to me. I spend many hours there catching up with old friends and working on my computer. And their menu is amazing. For a quiet pool day I always love heading to Sentosa in Seminyak. And a spa day at Amo is divine. If I’m entertaining friends new to Bali, I take them for sunset at La Plancha – bean bags on the sand with sangria. Or if it’s just me and my husband, simple bintangs on a quiet stretch of beach works like magic.

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Tell us about your latest AILA BLUE collection?

The latest collection, Splendour in the Sand, is a throwback to the 60’s. A time of forbidden love and lofty dreams. With more tailoring than previous collections but balanced with flirty details such as low backs and sequins. Once again, my love of contrasting elements is very evident—girly puffed sleeves paired with playful playsuits. With shades of citrus, indigo and cotton candy pink.

Tell us about your style, and how you always manage to look so good?

I find less time to think about my personal style than ever before. Life is very busy! Most days I don’t even have time to brush my hair, thank goodness the top knot is so fresh and easy! I’ve always been very drawn to vivid prints and color. I have so much of it in my wardrobe. Yet I tend to wear neutrals more than anything. You can never have too many white shirts! I think the most important aspect of looking good is looking healthy. If my skin reflects a healthy diet, exercise, sleep and sun—then everything else falls into place.

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What are your favourite pieces in your wardrobe at the moment? And what are your favourite pieces that you have designed?

I live and work in the tropics so comfortable breathable clothing is essential. I wear our Sydney satin silk printed shorts regularly in different prints. It gives me a splash of my love of prints and color without having to think too hard. My favorite piece from the latest collection is Jessie—a simple long tank dress with a low back, lined with silk. I love it in solid moss or the playful lemon ikat print.

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Do you have a beauty regime and if yes what products can you not live without?

My day always begins and ends with skin care. I’m a firm believer in eye cream and have been using it religiously since I was 18. I switch between products as I always enjoy trying new things. I’m a sucker for packaging. At the moment I’m loving Dermalogica and I can never look past La Mer for ultra hydration.

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What has been your career highlight so far?

I have so much further to go for career highlights but this year has been pretty exciting in media coverage. We just landed the cover of Women’s Health featuring our Vidalette bra on Keri Russell. Pretty surreal to see my design on the cover of a magazine!

What can we expect from AILA BLUE in the next few years?

Exploration into new cuts and fabrics. And lots of interesting prints. I’ll always stay true to our roots and create gorgeous flowy dresses but it’s really exciting to indulge in separates and knits. Next year we will be launching our first range of swimwear. And while Splendour in the Sand is rocking the shelves at the moment, I’m giddy to share next year’s collection with everyone. It’s sultry and heady. Can’t wait.

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Where can we purchase your beautiful clothes?

Boutiques across America. With a few internationally in Australia, Spain, Japan and Mexico. Next year we will be expanding quite a bit through out Australia. Which we are super excited about as our Australian girls keep asking where they can buy! And we have some amazing online retailers who ship internationally. All of our retailers can be found on our website.

Words to live by...

Follow your heart, as it is the only thing that will ever make sense.

Pop over to the Aila Blue website by visiting ailablue.com | Follow Mai on Instagram @mailovesyoux + @ailablue and on Facebook at facebook.com/ailabluelovers.

Thank you for your time Mai, I adore your beautiful designs and your kind soul x

M A I ' S  M A G I C A L  W E D D I N G