A select few brands control the market for beach and swimwear in Phuket, each offering branded selections or manufacturing their unique style. Infinity & Co, however, is an entirely different concept – a luxurious one.
The store is inside Cherng Talay’s shopping and dining hotspot, Boat Avenue. A visit can be described as an occasion – far from your everyday shopping trip for a quick bikini or two before heading to the beach. The smiling face that meets each client is Julia Petermoeller; owner and creative designer at Infinity & Co.
Julia grew up in Russia, where she studied English, German and later Law. Germany called her in the form of her adoring husband, Thomas. There, the couple grew into a family with the birth of their son Phillip. For a while, Julia’s freelance sales work put her on the red carpets of many a fashion show. It was not long, however, till a full-time position at Germany’s leading luxury concept store, Apropos, came up. The years that followed, selling top brands such as Balenciaga, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Fendi and others gave her the expertise to tend to and serve the discerning international customer.
The family relocated to Phuket in 2018, following Thomas’ retirement from his career in manufacturing. The family had been long-time lovers of Thailand, with Thomas spending 12 years before at the helm of his garment production plant, and Julia spending the winter months of Europe in Bangkok. Phuket was then the perfect new permanent home, with its international schools, hospitals, shopping destinations and proximity to key Asian cities. Not to mention the many friends who make the island genuinely feel like home.
A year after the big move, with market research done and a niche found in beachwear, Infinity & Co opened its doors. This was the perfect concept for the ever-creative Julia, who has admitted to amassing a formidable collection of bikinis from travels across the globe. ‘It was clear’ she said, ‘I could combine my passion for swimwear with my knowledge of fashion and high-end customer expectations in one single project’.
When we asked what Infinity & Co’s claim to the beachwear market is, the response was clear: ‘Outstanding, striking design at top quality level with the best retail sales service you can get’. This is not just a statement. The enlightened will know what sort of establishment they are in when they step through the doors. Represented on the racks, shelves and displays at Infinity & Co is the absolute echelon of luxury beachwear.
Brands such as Beach Bunny, Sauvage, Luli Fama, Capri Girl, Room 24, Oseree and Pin-Up Stars surround you. MC2 St. Barth, Fedeli and Ramatuelle ensure men are also catered to. Julia prides herself in the time spent researching each brand, visiting manufacturers and expos and hand-selecting each item for the store. The buying experience here is unlike any other beachwear shop on the island.
When asked to put an outfit together, Julia’s face lit. With her expertise, every bikini is matched to the buyer’s body type. Then, each outfit is completed with just the right dress, sunglasses, handbag and other accessories. It’s apparent when you look at the racks – which she updates periodically according to colour, ranges and season. The store will go as far as to close its doors to ensure Julia is allowed the time to work through the outfit with the buyer, discussing and deciding what fits, looks and feels best.
‘We want our customers to look outstandingly beautiful and add to their self-confidence’, she said, going on to explain that, to add to the exclusivity of the shopping experience, the collections available are mostly one-off pieces, making it highly unlikely for a buyer to encounter anyone else, anywhere with the same ensemble. Interestingly, a part of her philosophy is that each item.
Out of curiosity, we asked if any notable personalities came through the shop. And of course, a luxury establishment of this sort has been no stranger to the elite. Some VVIP guests at the luxury boutique establishment included the likes of Thomas Sabo, the famous silver jewellery designer from Germany, Anastasia Volochkova, the famous Russian Prima Ballerina, Irina Zemlyanskaya, well-known Russian Tennis player and Rachel Peters – 2017 Miss Universe Phillippines, to mention a few. All these names being a testament to the level of quality and service here.
Growth being key to any brand, Infinity & Co already hold exclusive arrangements with their suppliers, and with their already flourishing branches at the island’s top 5-star hotels Trisara, Anantara Layan, Anantara Mai Khao and Rosewood, the future looks bright. Building a star-formation franchise business is no easy feat, and this level of scaling brought up our next question: Sustainability.
‘When it comes to social responsibility, Infinity & Co. Luxury Beach Concept & its associated partners all share a similar perspective. We envision ourselves as being a sustainable force within the fashion industry based on a fully circular approach towards clean production & sustainable production of goods’ said Thomas, who manages the brand’s operations. ‘Our collective vision also includes working to achieve a fair, equal workplace in our company as well as amongst associated suppliers, and contributing to good communities based on diversity and inclusion.’ Using only recycled paper packaging materials adds to their efforts to minimise their impact on the environment.
A staggering amount of work goes into each item; visiting expos and manufacturers around the world, checking fabric feel and quality, meticulously selecting each piece and matching it with specific accessories, organising the shop displays, managing stock, ensuring customers are receiving personalised experiences – it’s clear that running this kind of establishment requires a certain level of commitment and organisation. How does one find the will to keep doing it every day, and at the same time, balance the work with what is most important – family?
We’ve heard the adage; ‘Do what you’ll love, and you’ll never work a day in your life’ – Julia is the personification of this famous saying. ‘Every morning, when I wake up, I am thankful that I have such a good life. I mean, to live on a wonderful, always sunny island in paradise close to the sea and to do what I really love, I consider a gift. I am delighted to have the opportunity to make my passion and hobby my job and to make other people happy and look beautiful.’ She finds motivation in her interactions with customers; when they post pictures on Instagram in faraway places in the outfit she put together, or when they return to the store or recommend it to others. It all gives her satisfaction and encourages her to be more creative.
Balancing work and family life is no easy task, but having a good team at home and work makes things easier. The high season brings with it busy days and late nights at the shop, but the low season brings Phillip’s school holidays, which works well when vacations are combined with expo and manufacturer visits in Europe. ‘Good planning, discipline and excellent organisation are crucial. I learned that during my 15 years living in Germany, where people, I must say, are disciplined and well organised.’
Time spent outside of the shop is spent wisely. There’s the gym where, she says, ‘I believe I must keep myself in shape for selling the products that I represent. Hence, I do regularly Yoga, go to the gym, go swimming in the sea, enjoy massages and all the little touch-ups for face, nails and body, so I can fit my own products. Then there’s the all-important friends and family time at lunches and dinners and of course, travelling.
You can find the luxurious Infinity & Co at Boat Avenue in Cherng Talay, Phuket. Follow Julia on Instagram @juliabehappy or @infinityandcophuket as well for all her latest looks and updates from the store.
Photos by Anastasia Cheers. Follow her work on Instagram @anastasia.cheers