Life In Bali With Saffron Pugh-Blaby



It’d be impossible to walk into the Bali home of Saffron Pugh-Blaby and not feel happy. A little like her kidswear label Coco and Ginger, there’s vibrant, unexpected splashes of colour everywhere. The dynamic and inspiring mother to Chloe, 16, and Ginger, 9, founded Coco and Ginger after her daughter Ginger was born...

“I was raised in a very creative environment on an old pineapple farm in Queensland,” she says. The daughter of two artists, Pugh-Blaby studied arts at university and worked as a ceramicist in her father’s studio before moving to Bali where she worked for an American clothing company. Coco and Ginger launched in 2002 and now has stockists around the world and a flagship store in Bali. We caught up with the inspiring mother and her two daughters to find out more…

Photography: Nikole Ramsay


Motherhood has taught me patience, compromise, selflessness and unconditional love…

Motherhood really teaches you to put someone else’s needs before your own. I had a moment after Chloe’s birth. It was a long natural birth and she was a big baby, so I was exhausted but instead of crawling into bed to recover for 24 hours I was breastfeeding a crying baby every three hours and there was really no one else who could help. The responsibility was mine.


Our life is very structured and routine driven…

It’s the only way a family of four can exist. Chloe is doing her IGCSE and Ginger is dance and tennis mad so we are busy with after school activities and study. Simon and I work hard and are very hands on with our girls so structure is essential in the running of our household.


My advice to new mothers is to…

Sleep when your baby sleeps at least once a day and let go of the perfection thing. Whether it’s a spotless house or garden or a lengthy to do list. Once you release yourself from this pressure you can enjoy the moment and the magic starts to happen. What needs to get done will happen. Give yourself the time to make some incredible memories to look back on.


My parents are artists as are both my sisters…

I was raised in a very creative environment on an old pineapple farm in Queensland. I studied arts at Sydney university and worked as a ceramicist in my father’s studio for a time. When I came to Bali, I worked for an American clothing company until starting Coco and Ginger after Ginger’s birth.

 

 


My husband Simon is a chef…

He was head hunted for a job at Alila so we moved to Bali. I think living here has been a gift for the girls. They have a truly global outlook. There is a tag put on children raised in a country other than their birth country TCK or Third Culture Kid. Chloe came as a two year old and Ginger arrived at two months so this is home in a sense, yet they are Australian.


Bali has its pros and cons like anywhere…

After having just spent nearly three weeks in Paris we are dreaming of living there, but of course the reality of living there as opposed to holidaying is very different. Things run differently in Bali and it helps to have patience. Everywhere you go in the world people have different priorities and needs and they see things differently. You will have your good and bad days. Help in the house and cheap massages will soon loose their charm if that’s the only thing on your pro list.


“ Aside from the obvious addition of a second language my children are very open minded in regards to culture and religion and very accepting of others. I hope they carry this gift through out their life and they question, enquire and learn about the world around them on a global level ”

I think people expect everything to be easier and without rules here…

The reality is it’s just a different set of bureaucracies and hurdles. When people first move (and I know this from experience) a lot of energy is spent comparing Bali to home and a favourite catch phrase is “In Australia it’s blah blah blah”. They are two different places and the circumstances and histories are very different. Once you let go of the comparing and try to learn about your new home, things become more interesting.


I am structured and disciplined…

A friend once described the three spheres of the working mother like juggling three balls: CHILDREN WORK PLAY. I think you can only do two properly at a time. I get up early so I have time to walk or see my personal trainer Melanie or chill and then Simon walks the girls to school and I start work from home early. Then I am in the studio from 10am until 2.30pm when I go to pick up my kids and take them to after school activities then home for dinner and homework and reading and then bed. Maybe some more emails or social media or reading then hopefully bedtime isn’t too late as I do value a good night’s sleep. The time spent in the car and around the dinner table is precious as it gives us space to connect as a family. Occasionally I will have dinner with girlfriends or my husband or meet for lunch and coffee but it’s not that often as something has to give. There will be time later on when my girls are older. It’s funny but I read the book Steve Biddulph wrote on raising girls and a lot of what he said resonated in regards to teenagers. Parents think these years are when you step back but actually you need to be very available and connected for when you’re needed. Our girls are facing so many new challenges and I know they are up for the challenge, but we are here if needed. Simon is a chef but he really works hard to take some of the responsibilities and it’s very much a team effort. Sunday is our day. We try not to organise anything. It’s a day we can relax and enjoy each others company. Chloe will do some homework, we might play a board game or watch a movie, Simon and I will cook and someone might take a nap. It’s important to have some breathing space.


We try to travel yearly…

A trip back to Australia, Singapore, Thailand or Vietnam. This year we went to Paris and London. It was the girl’s first trip to Europe and we really felt re-energised by the holiday. Many art galleries and food markets and walking and eating… it was bliss. We are all deeply in love with Paris now.


We love a quiet clean protected beach in Nusa Dua for a Sunday swim (early to avoid the traffic)…

Old Mans for sunset and early dinner. Friday night dinner at Petitenget to say hi to Simon (he is the chef there). Escapes up the East coast to Manggis (near Candi Dasa). On our last trip we took a boat ride to Secret Beach and saw turtles and dolphins and ate grilled fish with our feet in the sand. It was magical. We love Biku for high tea and Souq for a weekend breakfast. A girlfriend of mine runs a really cool website Little Bali Love and she keeps us updated on what is good and new. We are kind of creatures of habit though and tend to haunt our fave places.


I did not want to return to full time work in the clothing industry after I had Ginger…

I wanted to be flexible and available for her (we have a big gap between our girls of 6 years). I started to create things for her to wear in the Bali heat and it evolved from there. I was really lucky to have had some amazing support from the women in my baby group but also some key industry people who were generous with their help, advice and custom. I also had two Balinese women in my life and together we built a hand stitch community of women working from home. We are always learning and evolving as a team.


We get such a kick out of seeing children in our pieces…

It never gets old. We are always grateful for the kind notes or messages when people reach out. I guess we are thrilled to be doing what we are doing. We produce with only home industry on a very small scale. All our embroidery is hand stitched and we pay per piece, which we feel gives our makers’ flexibility to honour their community and culture. All that is not without its challenges but it also keeps things fresh and creative and very much hands on. Our pieces are made slowly and people have been paid fairly for the manufacturing and I guess this makes me proud in this day and age of instant fast fashion.


I rotate a Mexican dress uniform...

When I was in the Parisian autumn recently it switched to a Kid cashmere sweater, black pants and cashmere wrap… I realise I am a creature of habit wardrobe wise and the uniform is key.  My Paris purchase of silver Birkenstock are my new summer addition and I am crazy about PARED sunglasses. I covet multiple styles. Also I spotted a Sarah Curtis hat that is incredible yesterday in Bali.


The challenges of motherhood change on one level…

But remain the same as well. When they were younger I worried about sleep and feeding and settling and now I worry about a whole new set of scenarios. I am trying to train that voice in my head to stop jumping to these worst case positions but it’s a work in progress… is that anxiety? I have started meditation and hope that will help calm that crazy inner voice. I guess that comes with the best part of being a Mum, which is this bountiful, endless capacity for love. I truly adore my girls they are kind, interesting, hilarious and the best company. I learn new things every day from them. Being a mother is the very best thing I could have ever done and I am truly grateful.


QUICK QUESTIONS...

COFFEE OR TEA: Paris breakfast by Mariage Freres lots of green tea and mint and three strong cups of coffee before midday (the  organic ground Petitenget blend is heaven)
HEELS OR FLATS: Birkenstocks in silver, white or black and Saltwater sandals
BOOKS At the moment Atul Gawande Being Mortal, The Gifts of Imperfection Brene Brown and whatever my daughter Coco has read and recommends… There are so many great YA books out there.
INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS: I follow lots and love to see what is going on some of my faves are: Sunday Collector, Food 52, Little Bali Love, Chamila97, Innika, Michelleschopesorganic, Claire collected, Sarahin Paris, Parisinfourmonths, Parisianfloors (slight Paris obsession). Really I love sooooo many it’s too hard to choose a few.
WORDS OF WISDOM: This too shall pass and for every problem there is a solution (ever the optimist).
NEXT TRAVELLING TO: Island hopping, perhaps a trip to Kalimantan, until Coco finishes her IGCSE exams then hopefully another family adventure.
FAVOURITE FOOD: Grilled fish cooked over coconut husks on the beach with sambal Matah a Balinese fresh chopped sambal and Indonesian vegetables.FUNNIEST MOMENT OF MOTHERHOOD: We laugh daily. It’s part of my family therapy. Simon has a brilliant sense of humour and we are all pretty good at laughing at ourselves. Our animals bring many moments of hilarity as well.


Saffron’s little list of loves:

Swimming in the Ocean.
Gardening and harvesting coconuts from the tree we planted.
Drinking good champagne on occasion so it’s appreciated.
Baking banana bread and other treats for my girls. We gave up Palm oil a few years ago, so we are particular about what we buy… it’s easier to bake.
Sunday’s shared pot of tea with Ginger and the laid back pace.
Massages at Jari Menari (not nearly as often as I should).
Books mostly via Book Depository but always hauled back from holidays too.
Looking at photos from our Parisian holiday with my girls in bed.

 


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