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Your One-Stop Surf, Swimsuits and Coffee Shop in Bali: Drifter Surf Shop

Come hang out at the Drifter Bali Surf Shop! Photo by Keegan Gibbs.

Time and time again, we’ve heard through the coconut wireless that Seea’s coolest and enthusiastic fans in the Southern Hemisphere discovered us at Drifter Surf Shop in Bali. We’re honored that the stylish women behind Drifter Bali chose Seea to be a part of their brand family and we've felt their positive surf community stoke reverberating through our Bali-traveler friends all the way to California. Let’s say that if we lived in Bali, it would be our first stop to stock up on wax, pick up our morning freshly ground coffee (or wheat grass shots, fresh juice, smoothies or milkshakes) and baked treats fresh out of the oven before hitting the beach.

The creators of Drifter Bali, Tim Russo and Jake MacKenzie opened the shop in 2009 in Seminyak Bali, an area known for good restaurants and boutiques that’s also close to the beach. Drifter Bali wanted to bring an independent spirit amongst the corporate surf labels that ruled the real estate in Bali. “They wanted to create a space that would put the soul back into surfing,” Seewah Russo, wife of Tim Russo says on behalf of the creators.

Inside Drifter Bali. Photo by Keegan Gibbs.

The women’s section came out in 2011, with the help of Tim and Jake’s significant others, Seewah Russo and Vanessa Mackenzie, who have an awesome time together selecting their favorite swim and surf lifestyle brands for the ocean loving ladies of the island. The coffee shop also opened that same year.

We caught up with the Drifter Surf Shop creators to talk more about the origins of Drifter Surf Shop Bali and why Bali is a true slice of heaven on earth.

What is the concept of the store?

Drifter is all about representing and housing the independent works of those that are redefining a culture and generation. Honoring the legends of the past who have laid the foundations and who have given us the inspiration.

We aim to represent a side of the surf culture not marketed to the masses: brands based on creativity as their core foundation; brands that honor surfing for surfing; and unconditional fun and freethinking.

Drifter is a place to chill and appreciate the clothing, the large library of hand selected books, artwork, surfboards, the myriad of memorabilia that we collect, and our freshly ground espresso.

Maintaining a focus on quality, style and simplicity... Drifter encapsulates the feeling and provokes memories of the roots in what we love to do so much: surfing.
Outside the Drifter Bali shop in Seminyak. Photo by Keegan Gibbs.
What are some of the stories behind the decorations within the shop?

We are lucky to be in Indonesia where we can source beautiful antique furniture. We have a really skilled team of builders and wood carvers who can turn salvaged hard woods into beautiful displays. And we love collecting old surf memorabilia that brings us back to another time. The shop is true to the kind of places we like to hang in — chilled out, rootsy, and heaps of good vibes.

Chill out with a book, or just oogle the surfboards. Photos by Keegan Gibbs.
We are a fan of any place that has ukeleles and succulent gardens in the same space. Photos by Keegan Gibbs.

For the women's section in particular, what kind of brands do you look for and why?

We live in our bikinis here so we know the importance of quality swimwear. We are always looking for amazing cuts from our favorite boutique swimwear designers and we love independent brands like Seea with truly unique designs that look amazing on and can totally function in the surf as well.

How do you describe the surfer women you see shopping at Drifter?

Adventurous, salty haired sea gypsies!

Recently at the Byron Bay Surf Festival, from left Seeababe Chrystal Fitzgerald with Seewah Russo and Vanessa Mackenzie, women's buyers for Drifter Bali.

What is the area's personality and culture of the people who live in Seminyak, where Drifter Bali is located? 

Seminyak is busy with an interesting mix of travelers and expats from around the world. I think most expats can wake up here, jump in the ocean, crack open a fresh coconut and realize how lucky they are to be in living in Bali. Just respect the locals! The Balinese believe in magic and karma rules. You get what you give.

Order up at the coffee bar. Photo by Keegan Gibbs.

Where are the nearest places that you surf?

There’s basically a wave at almost every beach on the southern east and west coasts of Bali. There’s waves for everyone here from logging at Old Man’s to pulling out the guns at Uluwatu.

What do you think is special about the global surf community in Bali?

Surfers in Bali really do come from everywhere and are lucky to be so warmly welcomed by the locals here since surfers first started coming to this island.

What about the women's surf community — how is it special or different than in other parts of the world?

Bali is such a creative hub for artists, designers and women surfers and ocean lovers. This is an inspiring island and many dreams and ideas are shaped here. We’ve seen some beautiful swim and surf labels come out of Bali from women in the surf community. There’s also some wonderfully talented people from this country skilled in different crafts and trades who can really help to bring a designer’s sketches to life.


A photo posted by Drifter Surf Shop (@drifterbali) on

How has Bali changed since you have been there? Is that for the better or worse?

Bali has changed a lot since I’ve been here for the last five years. Tim has seen even more change as he’s been coming here for almost 20 years. Sometimes I can’t believe how quickly changes seem to happen just overnight. We love listening to stories about Bali in the '70’s when the pioneers surfed Uluwatu or Padang Padang for the first time.

Bali is now an increasingly popular destination at the moment with a newly built airport and returning and first time tourists arriving hourly. There will definitely need to be improvements to the infrastructure to support so many visitors to this island.

The Balinese believe in Tri Hita Karana which is the belief of keeping harmony among people, harmony with God, and harmony with nature in balance for a life of well being.

Growth and development can be a good thing with positive benefits for the local community but I think the key is responsible growth that it is sustainable for the island and the people that live here.

Restock your quiver. Photo by Keegan Gibbs. 
What are the most rewarding moments for you and the creators about running a surf shop?

I think the boys are definitely stoked on their insane surfboard collection now! And how much our customers seem to genuinely love the shop. We love all the amazing people we meet along the way: ocean loving characters, living legends and great friends who we get to do business and share good times with.

Thank you Seewah and Drifter Bali creators! We are so happy to be connected with Drifter Bali across the globe by shared appreciation of style and love of surfing! 
Photo by Keegan Gibbs. 

Rhea Cortado November 12, 2014 2 tags (show)

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