The Bulgarian brand By Far was founded a year ago by twin sisters Sabrina Bezuhanova and Valentina Gyosheva along with their sister in law and best friend Denitsa Bumbarova. This family business is taking over fast, their fan base is getting bigger and bigger, well-known names in the fashion industry are walking the streets wearing their shoes, not to mention their stardom on social media. We completely understand why By Far is such a success; conscious Italian materials, classic styles that mix modern and vintage, high-end quality at affordable prices. And can we have a minute for those amazing inspirational and storytelling images on Instagram? It’s time that you get to know more about them, so we speak to Valentina.
Can you tell us about the birth of By Far?
By Far began a little over a year ago as my twin sister, Sabina, and I, Valentina, along with our sister-in-law and best friend Denitsa were catching up over a drink. It was just an idea at first, something that we felt really passionately about but never thought would come along this far. Over time we got more serious about it and destiny met us with the right people and our wonderful factory and we got started with our business.
Was it a dream to start your own shoe brand? How did you come up with the idea of starting the adventure?
The three of us obviously love shoes but I wouldn't say that it has been a lifelong dream. My sister and I have a renewable energy business, while Denitsa studied Art History and used to model before this. What it came down to was us wanting to create something that we didn't necessarily see being done on the market at an affordable price point. We wanted to make the shoes that we wanted to wear and we wanted them to be really well made, feel luxurious and of course be reasonably priced. We also saw a big opportunity in producing in our home country, Bulgaria, because we strongly believe in the artisans and traditional craftsmanship here. It was a formula for creating something unique and we wanted to share it with the world.
As a shoe label you are strongly connected with fashion. What does fashion mean to you?
That is a very interesting question, especially at a time like this when fashion is so all-encompassing and diversified. Particularly the consumption of fashion has evolved a lot over the last decade, and while we love beautiful garments and great accessories, we are much more focused on the emotional connection one can have with fashion. We shy away from being trend-driven and focus on the image of the By Far woman. We like to think that our designs tell a narrative or suggest a certain way of life, and I think you can really see that in the brand. We are influenced by many things outside the fashion industry, like our travels, the beautiful objects and pieces of furniture which we want to put in our homes, our favourite artists, and even our childhood memories have permeated our aesthetic. All of this comes down to a lifestyle and the woman that lives it. We see her in our many muses and you can too by taking a look at all of our close friends on Instagram.
Where did you learn how to design shoes? Do you have a background in fashion?
As I mentioned before, Sabina and I were in the renewable energy business before creating this brand along with Denitsa, who studied Art History and did some modelling. She is our creative director and I think that her contact with the fashion industry put a spark in her at an early age to possibly one day do something related to design. I really admire her unrestrained vision and her eye for details. She has such a strong conviction when it comes to the things she wants it almost becomes difficult to imagine our shoes any other way.
Twin sisters and a long time friend, that sounds like the perfect team. What is your relationship together? Who’s the creative brain? Who’s doing the financial part?
We are very fortunate to have a family business. And that extends to our production, as our factory is a small, family owned building that's just an hour drive from our city. We are very close both in our personal and professional lives. Denitsa is the creative, Sabina does the numbers and is the backbone, and I handle PR and marketing strategies.
The three of you live on opposite sides of the world (London, Sydney, Sofia). How do you manage working together and run a business?
I feel like our business is as international as we are and I see it as an advantage for us to be living all over. The eye has to travel and we try to communicate with as many people abroad as possible and garner close relationships all over the world. Technology connects us on a daily basis so it's always easy to keep in touch.
By Far has a unique style: high quality, classic but mixing modern and vintage. Where do you find your inspiration?
We gather inspiration from all over. It can be a favourite painting that references a colour palette, a sculpture that informs a silhouette, or a pair of shoes from a grandmother's photograph – so a lot of vintage. We are constantly moodboarding and visualizing our collections and then filter everything through our perspective, reworking it and turning it into By Far.
Your brand is consciously made; you use dead stock leather for your handmade shoes, which makes the collection very exclusive. But the shoes sell out very fast. So not everybody can buy them whenever they want. Do you see that as a strength or as a weakness?
We feel that the sustainable component of our production is very special. Of course the exclusivity is alluring to most, as everybody wants to have something that is as close to one of a kind as possible. Essentially for us, as millenials, it comes down to being ethical and responsible towards the environment, especially when production is involved. We are very proud to do what we can to help, and we appreciate how responsive have people been to this initiative.
By Far was founded only one year ago, but now a lot of celebrities are wearing your shoes. What is the key behind your success?
There are many components to our success. We are fortunate enough to have a small but great team behind us, people who are just as passionate about By Far as we are. I suppose our formula for success would be exposure and constantly maintaining a presence on social media with beautiful images. People came around to noticing us: influencers, the press, and of course celebrities. We feel very lucky to have such a positive response.
One of your keys must be Instagram. With almost sixty thousand followers you can call yourself an online influencer. How important is Instagram for you?
We've always felt like Instagram is our bread and butter. It really is a fantastic way to engage people in what you're doing as it feels both personal and creates a sense of community. We are constantly inspired by creative minds, some of which we have become close friends with, working together to create beautiful Instagram content. One of them is our Instagram manager and art director Berta Bernad, whom we’re very lucky to have as a part of our team. For us Instagram is the ultimate network condensed into a visual platform.
By Far marched on the catwalk show of Marah Hoffman, and in a few minutes your Bulgarian brand became worldwide famous. It seems like you are in a rollercoaster of success, what is next?
That was a wonderful project and we feel incredibly lucky to have been a part of it, especially at a time like this when there is so much political instability and division. It felt so uplifting to be part of a cohesive force that aims to retaliate not through violence or aggression but through art and beauty. It really does feel like a revolution in the sense that women are coming together and empowering themselves by using creative force. We have a lot of exciting projects coming up, most of which will be revealed very soon.