How I Reinvented My Life at the Age of 50

By on February 15, 2018
How I Reinvented My Life After 50

By Samira Buchi—

“My name is Samira, and I am a designer. I create luxury handbags crafted with extraordinary attention to detail to provide women with elegance, simplicity, and functionality in their everyday lives.”

But before I was Samira Buchi the designer, my professional and personal journey led me through several avenues within and outside of the fashion industry always allowing my creativity to shine. 

As a young girl, I remember visiting New York City on a family trip in 1979 and thinking “one day I will live here”– little did I know that would occur at the age of 50. Born and raised in Lausanne, Switzerland, I created a platform for myself after graduating from Lausanne Hotel School with a Bachelor in Hospitality Management. While I didn’t immediately jump on an opportunity to pursue fashion, I ventured in other creative aspects that molded and inspired me to be where I am today. 

While my dreams of creating my own line were put on halt for many years, as I fulfilled the role of mother of two, I continued to express myself as a graphic designer and photographer in the realms of a visual communication agency, cookbook project, and an iPad application. I began my path by owning a quaint paint and furniture restoration workshop and La Désirade, a decoration boutique, which led me to explore my passion for interior design and decorating. Soon after, I started to write for Swiss women’s magazine, Femina, covering fashion and decoration allowing me to further grow my knowledge of decorating with weekly and monthly pages in the home section of the magazine. I would also eventually peruse my passion for capturing the essence of a product through photography and graphic design work at Coucou Clock Agency and Swiss cook book, Les Délices de Manuella. Needless to say, I maximized on every opportunity presented and embodied the skills acquired to continue my development in the industry, knowing that eventually it would apply to pursuing my dreams in the Big Apple. 

After 38 years of navigating in the industry and my children leaving the nest, I decided to pack my bags and begin a new adventure in NYC at the age of 50. I have always felt like I belong to many parts of the world, mainly due to the mix of my parents’ ancestry, with my mother’s side being half Italian and German, and my father’s side Tunisian nomads. Therefore, I always identified as Mediterranean, full of many spices all captured under one soul. Plus, my parents always preferred to travel and had a minimalist mindset that flourished on the road, a philosophy that was passed on to me. So moving to NYC felt like the natural next step in my expedition. I had to start all over. How did I do that? I registered as an accessory design major at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Every moment, from classes with students from diverse backgrounds and age, and learning about leather goods– it all intrigued me to continue my focus on how to perfect the craftsmanship in a way that strengthens and endures the quality. While a student, I also managed to dig up an Yves St. Laurent suede skirt I had purchased years ago for $5 at a second-hand store. At the time, it didn’t fit me well aesthetically, but I loved how it felt. I let my creativity flourish and turned it into a bag. After so many years, it was obvious to me that this was where I was meant to be. For the next two years, I learned everything about leather, how to craft it, and designed line after line in the FIT workshop. 

FIT really marked a turning point in my life, its reinvention, along with experiencing everything NYC had to offer. This inspired the creation of Samira Buchi New York, handcrafted bags and accessories with genuine leather that combine luxury, simplicity, and functionality. The line embodies who I’ve always been, living in the mindset of a vagabond. Leaving Switzerland, I had to leave behind all I was accustomed to, and for me, that was ok. Through my experiences, I learned that home is where the heart is, and I could recreate exactly what I want in a place, in a setting. Take for example my Olina basket bag, it is a representation of the bags I would carry in Tunisia when going to the market. They have such a light way about them, the shape represents my roots. Just like my experience with this bag, I hope that clients will feel an emotional bond to my creations and feel like they need it, not because it’s on trend but because it’s part of their life. 

Now, I am the most content with my studio in Queens. I love this neighborhood of Long Island City. I have embraced the diversity, and the brokenness of the place. There is a mixture of people and ethnicities, and no one is here for the fancy storefront– it’s real, it’s vintage, it’s broken, even dirty, but it’s amongst these streets where I find my creativity, my fire. It resonates with my vision for my brand, a feeling that anything is possible as long as you are willing to take risks. 

Through several hurdles I redefined myself at an unusual age for the normal person. This didn’t stop my love for creation, as with all my careers furniture design, photography, styling, they all combine an aesthetic and working with my hands, which come from the same place. My journey has taught me, “to be afraid to lose something is like putting breaks on life”. It doesn’t allow you to go wherever you want. While I still have fear, the only control I have of life events is how I react to them. The driving force behind myself and the brand is the story and energy I put into the product and that everything that I have worked for is here in my studio and all suppliers are here. With my current journey, I feel like it is now or never. 

 

At the age of 50, Samira Buchi left her small town Switzerland home to pursue her American dream. With her children out of the nest, Samira started from scratch, reinventing herself completely. She went back to school to study accessory design at FIT. Her purpose now is to perfect the art of leather goods craftsmanship.

Samira remembers traveling to New York as a young girl, and in 1979, standing in the middle of a gritty SoHo street, made it her goal to one day live in the city to pursue her dreams. She took her time to raise a family and pursue other creative endeavors that molded her influences and inspirations that eventually led her back to New York City, 38 years later.  

Her collection of luxury handbags was designed to tailor to the sophisticated, self- reliant, yet wayfarer minded female like herself. Just like the individual, each bag is unique and has its own spirit. 

Read a full introduction interview with Samira Buchi in her journal here.

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How I Reinvented My Life at the Age of 50