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Meet Melissa Butcher and Erin OBrien of Kembali Collective in Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Butcher and Erin OBrien.

Melissa and Erin, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Kembali Collective was launched a little over a year ago, growing from a small $200 investment online startup to our first flagship store in Long Beach this year. We started our business in pursuit of bringing the beauty and craftsmanship from the island of Bali which we have grown to love so much. I (Erin) have lived in Bali for nine years and created many close relationships with artisans in my time there, and was motivated by my business partner’s (Melissa) creativity and drive. Alone we would have never succeeded in our venture, but through countless emails and Skype sessions our dream of sharing handmade accessories and home decor came to life.

Has it been a smooth road?
We joke about never knowing what the heck we are doing. But we both bring so many different strengths to the table, where I (Melissa) lack knowledge, Erin excels and vice versa. We knew that starting this venture would have its ups and downs and wouldn’t be easy. We both love learning new things and are really passionate people so it never actually feels like work. In 2017 when Kembali was still just an idea we knew we would always put our friendship first, luckily we are always on the same page when it comes to decision making, which makes owning a business with your best friend really easy. The most difficult part is trying to coordinate and communicate on a 15+ time difference. We have about a 3-hour window to get all of our real-time planning done before the other person goes to sleep. It’s been interesting trying to do almost everything via Whatsapp and email.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Kembali Collective – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We are committed to creating personal relationships with the talented artisans we work with, using sustainable materials for our goods, and giving back to the community. We sponsor two marginalized Indonesian women per year in their educational goals and hope to increase this number as we grow. Through the tuition sponsorships we provide they are able to get vocational training and job placement once they graduate. We have even hired a few of the graduates for our administration needs, so it’s been really great to see these women grow and to work with them full circle.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Long Beach has a little bit of everything. It’s close enough to LA but without any of the traffic or inflated rent. You can find every type of person here, old, young, students, entrepreneurs, gay, straight, surfers, runners, families, singles. Long Beach has accumulated a melting pot of diverse communities that anyone can feel welcome here.

There’s not much that we don’t like about Long Beach. One thing that we have noticed through starting our business and putting countless hours into it is that everything closes so early in Long Beach. We work pretty late and by the time we are ready to clock out for the day there aren’t a lot of dinner options that don’t involve a drive-thru. We try to stay pretty healthy but sometimes ordering Del Taco via Uber Eats at 11:30pm is necessary when starting a new business.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Tash Serena, Julie Sariñana, Jessi Grazia, Jay Diebel, Amber Thrane, Marquel Plavan.

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