Summer Powell is an artist and designer based in Southeast Asia. Her company, Revel and Bask, sells clothing and housewares printed with her bold and colorful designs. The products are specifically designed to add joy to people’s lives, and help them manifest their dreams into reality.
Originally from Oregon, Summer attended Oregon State University, then graduate school at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Detroit. After working at several design firms, she founded and ran a multidisciplinary graphic design firm in NYC for several years. She then took a 9 month backpacking trip around Southeast Asia, Australia and South America, and was bitten by the travel bug. Moving San Francisco after the trip, she founded and was creative director of a 3D printed fashion jewelry company selling designs based on sacred geometry, animals and pop culture. Subsequently, she led the visual design team at augmented reality company Magic Leap in Fort Lauderdale.
Desiring a different kind of lifestyle, and remembering the wonder of her round-the-world trip, she moved to Southeast Asia. Summer currently lives by a rice paddy, near the ocean, and creates art and designs inspired by travel, time in nature, diving, dance and meditation.
What was your last regular job?
I was the Director of Visual Design at Magic Leap, an augmented reality wearable device company based in Florida.
What made you want to pursue a nomadic lifestyle?
For much of my career I’ve had my own companies and have always had control over where I worked. The 4 years before I came to Asia, I was at a corporate desk job, and had less control over my work setting. It helped me learn that I wanted a change and to live a different lifestyle. I had visited Bali 14 years ago but it was completely different to what it’s like now. A couple years ago, I was looking at Facebook and someone I know posted about working in Ubud (Bali) at Hubud. There were jungle plants and monkeys in the picture and I was like, “You can do that in Ubud now?” That Facebook post really planted a seed for me. When the chapter ended at my previous company, my first thought was about moving to Southeast Asia and living this amazing life.
How do you currently support yourself?
I’ve founded my own company called Revel and Bask, which sells housewares and clothing printed with my designs. I’m building up Revel and Bask to be my main focus, and am doing some graphic design work to support that goal.
Do you have any online training courses that you recommend?
I think print-on-demand is an interesting thing to look at right now. I’ve run into many other people at co-working spaces here who are doing print-on-demand, but I’m the only one I know who’s actually designing their own products. I used the “Build a Print-on-Demand Empire” course through Shopify Academy and it helped me realize the potential of this new model of doing business. Since then, I’ve looked at a couple other print-on-demand videos and articles, but I’d say the Shopify course by Adrian Morrison was the one that definitely opened my eyes to the potential of print-on-demand.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
Honestly, I was pretty well prepared. I first took a trip out to Southeast Asia to make sure I wanted to live here. That helped me make my decision and I was also able to make some connections during that trip. I also bought an ebook from Amazon on how to move to Southeast Asia, which helped me prepare for the move. I think many people who come here (either short-term or long-term) don’t know a lot of the details before coming. For example, I got my US and international motorcycle licenses in the USA; most don’t know to do that before moving. I also researched visas pretty well before coming here.
What are the hardest things you find about working remotely?
The most difficult thing for me is to make sure I get enough social time. I personally don’t really feel like working from a co-working space, so it’s important to schedule enough activities. I also try to make sure that I get enough feedback and discussion about my business from other people.
How do you envision your life in 5 years?
My company will have grown quite a bit and I’ve added a jewelry line and lighting line. I have a vision for much larger scale artwork that’s a hybrid between physical and virtual, with applications for both augmented reality and virtual reality. My intention is to create art that helps people feel both better and happier when they experience it. If people are feeling better, they’re going to create better outcomes with their lives in general. I’ll continue living a very international existence and collaborate with other artists and brands.
What are your estimated monthly expenses?
I’m spending more on housing than a lot of people would be because I have two cats and I need space for them. I spend around $900-$1000 USD a month on rent.
Food and drinks:
I found someone who offers an economical and healthy meal service; it’s about $70 to $75 USD a week for everything. I also buy some snacks and eat out every once in awhile. In total, I’m probably spending a $100 to $120 USD a week on food.
I’ve been a bit of a hermit this year while creating my new business, and haven’t been going out much. I recently bought a used treadmill for about $300, but next year I plan on working out and going out more
I ride a scooter which is super cheap; it’s about $55 a month to rent it.
I take a Grab three to four times a month, which varies in costs depending on how far I’m going. There’s also transportation to the airport every two months.
Interested in learning more?
Kaitlin is a travel writer and marketing consultant. On any given day, you can find her surfing, reading, and/or on the eternal search for the cutest cafes (with tons of power sockets, of course).