Bali Is A Home Away From Home For STELAR Founder Lorna Watson…

STELAR is the sustainable brand preserving age-old artisanal techniques, while delivering beautiful, contemporary and functional accessories. Having cultivated a cross-continent lifestyle, we chat to founder, Lorna Watson, about life overlooking the paddy fields and her labour of love…

Lorna works directly with artisans in Bali to create unique, hand-woven and hand-crafted accessories that have history, meaning and an abundance of relevant style.

Through STELAR, she is nurturing beautiful  techniques like Atta Grass weaving, star weaving, leather weaving, and managing to unite past and present. Breathing new life and style into historical skills that are struggling to find a place in the modern world.

So authentic is the process, that every incredible handcrafted item created has a unique code. It sits on the disc attached to your STELAR bag or wallet, and allows you to verify its origin and attributes. “It forges connections between our artisans, the communities we are regenerating, and you,” Lorna tells us.

Here we chat about her passion for preserving craftsmanship, and creating community, while getting the lowdown on life in the tropics.

"The brand was founded on the defining principles of Craftsmanship, Community, Transparency and Regeneration."


Can you tell me a bit about This Is Stelar – from concept to creation?

STELAR was born in Bali, where, for the past four years, I have been immersed in learning about a wealth of historical craft techniques amidst the challenges that Balinese communities are facing. The onset of mass production and demands for cheaper labour within the fast fashion industry has forced many artisans to leave their communities in search of unskilled jobs, at considerable social cost. As a trained goldsmith and designer who has worked in the luxury goods industry for 25 years, high level craftsmanship is in my DNA. I am passionate about ensuring the foundations of our business revive age-old skills, re-build communities and champion a change for good.

I initially set about on a research project within a basket weaving community in East Bali to better understand the challenges they were facing and as a result we started to explore making some bag samples together. The rest, as they say, is history.

Where does the name stem from?

STELAR (from the Greek ‘stele’ and the Latin ‘stellar’ – A pillar for those that excel in their field.

"I created Stelar to create something meaningful: by collaborating directly with the communities that create our products, we support artisans to remain, and work, within the villages that have inspired their craft over many generations." 


"My long standing favourite has to be the Misool tote bag, that converts into a handbag style. As a frequent traveller I also love our weekender which doubles up as a giant tote bag, and is perfect for holding all the business related things I seem to carry around on a daily basis! And from our Spring Summer ’21 Collection, I'm in love with our large Poso Shopper which is practical and super chic at the same time."  


In a pre-Covid world, how often would you travel to Bali? 

I spent half my year in London and half in Bali, normally in 3 month periods, so twice a year in each. I’m very fortunate to be able to enjoy the best of both worlds. Pre Covid I was living between Islington in London and Bali, Indonesia but I’ve been fully based in Bali for the past 9 months now.

Can you also tell us a bit about Bali, how you discovered the craft and artisans?

I’ve been visiting Bali for many years and have long been intrigued and inspired by the extraordinary heritage ,skills within Balinese artisan communities. Over the past 7 years however I became aware that the future of these communities and their unique but under-valued skills that are traditionally inherited are under threat as more and more artisans are forced to abandon their communities and ancient craft to find unskilled work in other industries. As someone who sees craftsmanship as a life-enhancing skill and a source of beauty and nobility to be nurtured and cherished, the prospect of these communities and skills dying out is nothing less than a tragedy.

And what exactly do you love about it?

Bali has a highly creative energy that drew me in when I first visited 20 years ago and it still has the same pull for me to this day. I am captivated by the grace and ease of the Balinese and their simplistic way of living that is based on community and a very strong sense of ‘place’. Anchored by their ancestry, the Balinese stay in the same place for generations and are very contented as a culture. It resonates with me and my Scottish roots even though I ended up here rather than there!

What is the creative scene over there? 

Bali attracts people from all over the world, and what surprises most people outside of Bali is the high level entrepreneur scene here. I’m involved in a women’s entrepreneur group that meets monthly to share ideas, support one another in our respective ventures and look at ways to collaborate. It includes a widely diverse group of female entrepreneurs and is incredibly inspiring and empowering.

Do you have a favourite beach, or spot in Bali that you can share?  

Ah, that’s tricky. It’s a favourite because it’s a secret.

Do you have any daily/ weekly rituals when you travel?

I’ve been practising yoga for 20 years so my day always starts with this even if its only possible for 15 or 20 minutes when I’m on the road, closely followed by a great cup of coffee.

Best hotel in Bali? 

I love the COMO Shambala Estate on the outskirts of Ubud, close to where I live. I’m a big fan of the COMO Group of Hotels for their wellness programmes, delicious cuisine, and heavenly scents that envelope you the minute you arrive at their resorts.

COMO Shambhala Estate

"It's set in an extraordinary location across 23-acres of jungle, with natural fresh water springs and the Agung River flowing past and is a complete escape from the rest of the world."


Can you tell me about two or three local businesses you’ve discovered lately? 

I’ve fallen in love with Alexandra Soveral‘s hand blended natural face products. I stopped using chemical based products when I was 16 years old and alternative options were rather thin on the ground, so by this stage a brilliant product range really stands out. Alexandra brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her business and we share a passion for the deeper intelligence of nature.

Cloth by Medina in Bali is a wonderful homeware store that specialises in high end natural fibre textiles, using botanical dyes. We share a very similar business and creative ethos that fuses contemporary design with traditional craftsmanship and nature based materials.

Favourite shop stocking independent brands? 

Skorpios Bazaar at – an artisanal lifestyle platform that supports the preservation of ancient handcrafting techniques and indigenous knowledge. It just launched, with STELAR and a curation of other great, like-minded brands.

What was the last thing you bought from an Independent brand?

Natural ingredient sunscreen. Essential when you live in the tropics.

Do you have any travel plans for the rest of the year? If so, can you share what you’re most looking forward to?

I’m longing to visit my family in Scotland and paddle board on a local loch with my niece and nephew.

The Instagram Edit – Can you share between 6 – 9 pics from Insta that sum up your life?

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