Stunning, fashionable and savvy mother of three. COO of a family run business, plus managing director and co-founder of Baliza. It is fair to say Gema Santander is one busy lady.

The other day I caught up with Gema for a casual coffee and chit chat about life in my new home town, Singapore. I discussed my work, friends, family and of course Profiling Glam. Gema chatted about her life, family, Singapore and in particular her latest project and perhaps even her fourth baby Baliza.

While I sipped my long black, Gema completely opened up about that fourth baby of hers. I soon discovered she is one creative lady, who has worked the international corporate scene for several years. Over the last year she managed to integrate her creativeness in with her financial expertise and through sheer passion and determination, her and a small selection of friends developed a creative think tank that is now known as Baliza.

Baliza Kaftan in Blue Paisley

Baliza Kaftan in Blue Paisley

Baliza is free spirited not for Profit Company, focusing on inspiring interior design, travel and of course fashion concepts. Gema allocates her time to the fashion side of the business, where she develops an array of kaftans and resort wear in stunning original prints. Perfect for weekend getaways to Bali and Ibiza (hence the name Baliza)

Baliza short kaftan in yellow and sarong in blue geo

Baliza short kaftan in yellow and sarong in blue geo

As I continued chatting to Gema, I realised that her passion and determination was not solely based on creating wearable, reasonably priced, resort wear. It went deeper than this. I soon found out that each Baliza item had been manufactured by students from a school in India called Ladli, a vital component of the charity i-india.

i-india raises funds to feed, shelter and treat disadvantaged street children of Jaipur.  Ladli is i-india’s vocational training centre where children are provided with education and taught skills, which will later assist them throughout their adult life.  Textile manufacturing is one of these skill sets.

Gema told me that for the last several years she has been associated with i-india and first came across Ladli’s products at the ‘Boutiques at Fort Canning’ fair in Singapore. The products were predominately quilts and table cloths, all designed with a traditional Indian flair.  She loved these products and was truly inspired by Ladli and the organisations objectives.  She then got to thinking, how could Ladli manufacture products suited to more commercial consumption? This is when her creativeness and business acumen combined and she came up with Baliza Resort wear.  This is also when I saw the spark in her eye.

As she continued and I listened, I also realised, much to my enjoyment, that I was being completely educated on this topic. I sat there entirely fascinated by everything she was saying.  I learnt that the students of Ladli were perhaps more manufacturing minded.  Through constant communication, Gema has encouraged them to also assist with her textile selection process, garment trims, fabric washing and also printing and print design. Giving them a wider skill set to hopefully someday work for more commercial companies once they had reached adulthood.

Ladli Students

Ladli Students

It was at this point it clicked, Gema informed me that every dollar she makes from Baliza she puts back into Ladli and i-india. I love a socially minded company! It is not often that you purchase items and know that you are helping disadvantaged children at the same time.

There is so much money pumped into the economy during this time of year and it is easy to get caught in all the hype that comes with it. It was so refreshing to sit with Gema and hear her speak about this sustainable project; Baliza.  I know I will definitely be purchasing a Baliza gift this festive season. It is the perfect holiday present, plus I know that I will be giving back.

Gema I think you’re a superstar and I wish you and the Baliza team all the best for the future.

To find out how to purchase Baliza Fashion head to:

http://www.balizapartners.com/baliza-shop/

 

The stunning Gema Santander

The stunning Gema Santander