September was supposed to mark the official opening of the Potato Head Studios boutique hotel in Seminyak, Bali, the latest development in Ronald Akili’s sustainable design-focused lifestyle brand that started as a restaurant in Jakarta in 2009 and grew to include a popular beach club and creative campus in Bali, as well as properties in other cities.
Then COVID-19 happened. “Hopefully, we will hear good news for December,” said Akili of his hopes to finally open the hotel and reopen the other properties. In the meantime, for those who are missing the Potato Head community and vacation vibes, he’s launched The Wasted Collective, a sustainable collection of unisex T-shirts, hoodies, cargo pants and chore jackets created with Jesse Leyva, formerly a design director at Nike Inc.
“With Potato Head the hospitality brand, we proved that an eco-friendly hotel doesn’t have to mean roughing it or that only elites can enjoy it,” said Akili. “We want to take that same philosophy to apparel, then footwear, then homewares.…When I’m in the kitchen, it’s hard to find a sustainable functional product, like a replacement for a Ziploc bag, that’s how the idea for Wasted Collective came about.”
The basics collection has a colorful, tropical-modernist sensibility like his properties do, uses natural dyes and three sustainable production processes: Washi, EcoLife and upcycling.
While Akili didn’t initially plan to launch a product line this year, the pandemic made it a necessity. “The whole island is shut down, we had to close Potato Head, employees are suffering, not just financially but mentally,” he said. “We thought with all these things happening, the least we could do was to drive even faster. We didn’t want to waste another moment if there was a chance we could pull this off.”
The collection, $50 to $300, will be sold at thewastedco.com.