Travel interview: Dessislava Bell of Zaggora

Globetrotter: Dessislava Bell, the founder of sportswear brand Zaggora, on where to get the best hamburger in New York - and missing a flight to Kazakhstan.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Where do you travel?

I'm away at least once a month, mainly to the Far East and eastern Europe because that's where we have manufacturing bases. We sell sportswear in 110 countries, so I'm always looking for new markets. We want an office in the US, so I've been going there more frequently.

How do you structure a trip?

I oversee everything from product design to sourcing new ideas so I visit our manufacturers in Taiwan, China, Vietnam and Bangladesh regularly. The trips are short so I work long days. If I get time I'll go cycling and visit restaurants. After landing the first thing I do is go to the gym. The best one is in Lisbon in the Four Seasons Hotel - it's on the roof with views of the park next door.

What do you read on the flight?

I like biographies - I find them inspiring. The last one I read was of Starbucks' Howard Schultz. I also read Vanity Fair and American Vogue. They have a good range of articles that aren't just fashion-related and I use them to research new products.

Favourite country?

Hong Kong is fascinating. In some parts there are fabulous hotels and streets with skyscrapers, but two metres down the road you'll find traditional markets where you can buy a fish stomach, which is often found in Chinese medicines. I also love Geneva. You can do water sports, swim in the lake or go hiking.

Best cuisine?

One of my favourite restaurants is the Burger Joint in New York. It's hidden in the lobby of Le Parker Meridien Hotel. It's a really old place and serves the best burgers in town. Mr Chow nearby serves delicious Chinese food but is too crowded.

Worst ever travel experience?

I used to work for JP Morgan. Two days into the job I was supposed to fly to Kazakhstan. I had everything ready but I completely misjudged the time to the airport. I missed my flight and had to wait three days for the next one. Even worse, I was supposed to be meeting my boss out there to deliver his BlackBerry.

How do you deal with jet lag?

I tend to book overnight flights to avoid it. I'll work through the journey, and when I land it might be 2am. But you have to accept that jet lag's inevitable if you're flying to the other side of the world.

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