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A Day In The Life Of Chrissy Lafian, Founder And Creative Director Of Suku

A Day In The Life

Chrissy Lafian knows how to get stuff done. Born and raised in Makassar, Indonesia, the founder of SUKU Home moved by herself to New Zealand to go to high school when she was just 15. She landed in Melbourne to study graphic design at university, and has been here ever since.

Over the last 7 years, Chrissy has grown SUKU from a small bedding range sold online, to a fully fledged lifestyle brand with teams in both Melbourne and Bali, and a brand new flagship store, Dream Baby, on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy!

The jazzy SUKU prints in a rainbow of bright, happy colours are a sparkly jewel box  of joy in the often muted palette of Melbourne. That’s all Chrissy – her sunny demeanour and creative vision, coupled with business savvy and fierce independence make her a force to be reckoned with.

Between running the shop, managing her international teams, and being the creative force behind SUKU, Chrissy lets us in on what it takes to be at the helm of a business she’s built from scratch.

9th April, 2021

Chrissy Lafian, founder and creative director of SUKU home, outside their new flagship store! Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Flowers by Blossom Bby at the SUKU store. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Chrissy uses SUKU as an opportunity to collaborate with many other creatives, like florist Blossom Bby whose bouquets are featured here. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

The beautiful SUKU flagship store, Dream Baby! Custom rug by Stacia Hadiutomo. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Chrissy wrapping orders at the SUKU store. Counter by Chair Boi. Artwork by Lauren Dunn as part of Sunday Salon’s pop-up exhibition. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Chrissy, interior designer Natalie Held, her partner Chris and Christopher Scott of Chair Boi. Custom rug by Stacia Hadiutomo. Artwork by Lauren Dunn. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Chrissy employs 8 staff across the Melbourne and Bali offices who handle the retail side of the business, and 25 production staff in Bali. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

The SUKU showroom in store at Dream Baby. Lamp by CCSS. Artwork by Lauren Dunn. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Chrissy and some of the SUKU Melbourne team around the lunch table. Jug by Soft Edge Studio. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Working on new patterns from the latest SUKU range, In Full Bloom. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Chrissy at home on a Skype meeting with her team in Bali. Artwork by Katie Eraser. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Sally Tabart
Friday 9th April 2021

‘Hard decisions are only hard when you’re in the process of making them. Once you’ve taken the leap, it’s not hard anymore… it’s just life.’ – Chrissy Lafian.

Chrissy Lafian first launched her brand SUKU 7 years ago as a creative side hustle while working full-time at a high-end fashion retailer. Back then SUKU was producing a small range of bedding, sold pretty much exclusively online. Today the SUKU world encompasses bedding, tableware, fashion, and even incense, designed in Melbourne and manufactured in Indonesia. ‘I was born in Indonesia and grew up in Australia, so I guess I am kind of a SUKU product too’ she says!

In late October 2020, just one week before lockdown ended in Melbourne, Chrissy signed the lease on her very first Melbourne store on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. ‘I remember some people kept saying to me that it would be impossible to open the space before Christmas but I was like, we should at least try to aim for it’, recalls Chrissy. ‘I wasn’t taking no for an answer.’ With interior designer Natalie Held, and her partner Chris, along with Christopher Scott from Chair Boi on the shop build, they started ‘the impossible one month project’. The SUKU flagship store, Dream Baby, opened two weeks before Christmas!

Between the 8 staff Chrissy employs across the Melbourne and Bali offices, as well as the 25 person production team in Bali, efficient time management is critical. But for Chrissy, the real key to success has been getting the right people on board, and letting them do their thing. ‘When you work with a team across continents, you really cannot try to micromanage everyone, you just have to trust your team’, she says.

Fuelled by creativity, independence, and a genuine desire to create something special, Chrissy lets us in on her day-to-day!

First Thing

I’m not an early morning person, I wake up at 8am. That’s pretty late. The first things I do are drink coffee and exercise. I do F45 regularly, reformer pilates at Good Times and mat pilates at Club Ronny at home when I am working from home. High intensity workouts like F45 really help me with my mental health, I struggled a bit last year when I couldn’t do this at home.

I like to take it slow and easy in the morning before I do my exercise.

Morning

I start work between 10-11am (ish!). The first few tasks of the day are checking emails and writing down my to-do list for the day, then setting up meetings with my team to plan the week/day.

I burn incense in the office to get me in the mood. My work requires me to be creative, make decisions, and be in the right headspace most of the time. That’s why creating a nice space to work from is important for me, this includes a space that smells nice with lots of natural light.

Lunch

I am a lot better now, but I used to always forget to take a lunch break when I was working. Now I make sure to take a break around 12 or 1pm. I love the Vietnamese café, 2T café, next door to the store. They make the yummiest food!

Afternoon

Most days I don’t finish work until 7pm because I also have to work on Indonesia time and the time difference means I have to still be in contact with the team later in my day. Hence why I start my morning pretty slow and late.

My energy levels depend on when I do my exercise. I feel energised after I finish exercising – which is why I like to do my exercise in the morning.

Evening

Normally I finish work by 7pm, but on a busy day I might not be done until 9pm. Dinner depends on who feels like cooking that day… 100% pasta if my partner cooks. I like to take some time out of my day to read a book, or on a really busy day, a glass of red wine in the afternoon always helps!

To switch off, I have to put my phone down!

Last Thing

I usually go to sleep after midnight, I can’t fall asleep before 12.

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Chrissy at home with her beloved dog Manja! Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Lighting incense gets Chrissy in the zone. Plate by Soft Edge Studio. Incense holder by is a collaboration between SUKU and Comfy Shrooms. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Right now I’m listening to, watching, and reading…

Listening: SUKU Mix Bloom and Gloom by Dita
Watching: Nothing at the moment, I wish I had the time to.
Reading: Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.

I get my best work done when…

I’m under pressure. This is so weird but it’s true, maybe because I become more focused when I have an upcoming deadline.

A philosophy i live and work by is…

You can have it all but only one thing at a time. Meaning, do something, do it well, perfect it… then move on to the next stage.

My productivity tool/tip is…

My productivity tool/tip is sometimes you just have to start… in whatever small way that might be. Ideas will come to you when you start looking for them, then eventually you will be in the zone and then next minute you’re doing things and being productive.

Something I learned the hard way is…

That people will come and go in your life, at the end of the day you have to trust yourself and your instincts.

What is your advice for someone who wants to start their own business, but is afraid to take the leap?

Hard decisions are only hard when you’re in the process of making them. Once you’ve taken the leap, it’s not hard anymore… it’s just life.

Shop SUKU online or visit Chrissie at the SUKU store, Dream Baby, on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy!

 Dream Baby, SUKU Home
128 Gertrude Street 
Fitzroy, Victoria

Monday – Saturday, 11am – 5pm
Sunday 11am – 4pm 

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net