The idea that a person should do what they love as a living is a concept I started to think about only during my year-long sabbatical. During those months off work, traveling around the world with a backpack, I had the luck to meet the most diverse people, from farmers who dedicate their lives to the earth, to business men and women focusing on their careers and the future. But, first and foremost, I got the chance to become impassioned with surfing since I was staying in places where getting into the water on a daily basis was possible.
Since I was just a little girl, I have always loved the sea, but I discovered surfing relatively late compared to the norm. The first time that I rode a wave, I was electrified by the contact with the ocean and all the vital energy that surfing started to represent for me—it changed my life. It basically became my adult playground.
Coming back to my home base in Italy with a new hand-shaped surfboard and a whole new life waiting ahead, I decided to create my own company, Fede Surfbags, to merge all my passions: traveling, surfing and art.
Fede Surfbags is a small brand that wants to stay small. We create tailor-made surfboard bags and travel bags. The bags are made to be ordered online, hand-painted one-by-one and are totally customizable. Therefore, it has to be limited editions and sometimes, one-of-a-kind bags. This all happens in Rome, Italy, where Federica Ubertone (I), pursues the excellence of Made in Italy in order to create bags that will go around the world. I paint the designs on the fabric myself, with original artwork that is inspired by nature, surfing and also, quite often, by the customer themselves. Thus, these are out-and-out works of art, but reachable from an economical aspect.
“Handmade in Italy. Designed to wander the Seven Seas”
In the beginning, Fede Surfbags was financed by another job, friends and family. But, at a certain point, I realized I wouldn’t be able to go forward with work, nor friends nor family. Something that went completely against the grain of the objective I had set for myself—living by doing what I loved and having free time to be with my friends and the sea. Therefore, since May 2017, the date I left my “regular” job, this has been the other activity I’m devoting my energy to every day.
It takes a lot of discipline to manage my own schedule and free time, pretty much working on my own. And above all, I am dealing with everything from the cutting of the fabrics to the promotion of the albeit small brand. The thing that helps me at the moment is living in Italy. Since there aren’t waves every single day, I can fully concentrate days at a time on Fede Surfbags and when there is a swell, I allow myself to take off for the day. Moreover, since last May, I started to combine Fede Surfbags with my surf trips. I created a tandem line of bags: The Seven Seas, made in cooperation with artisans all over the world. This year, they were created in Sri Lanka and Mexico.
When not traveling, you can find me in Rome, working hard. Luckily, the custom aspect of the bags will allow me to never get bored—if one day I wanted to do covers for cars, I would be able to. It is fun to come up with custom-made objects, but even more to create a personalized design—it allows me to discover new things, just like when you travel. For me, it is fundamental to stay passionate in my work, which allows me to never stop learning.
The feeling I get when I have to dig deep, hoping to do something that has never been done before, gives me the passion to continue. I am fundamentally a “maker,’ thus I turn ideas into reality. Not everything I make turns out right. There are a lot of trial and error involved in the process before being finally able to say: ‘Yeah, this it! This will work.’ A bit like surfing: in the end, it is the perseverance and the constancy that brings the results.