Tell us about your art/businessWhat do you do?
I founded Anzu in 1999, and we produce stationery and gift items which feature hand-painted illustrations. After an inspiring trip to Japan (the geisha kimono, the amazing packaging etc) I started painting again and so started Anzu, which means apricot in Japanese. We sell our products to shops, do freelance illustration, and also offer a corporate service where we design and produce anything from gift vouchers to packaging for clients.
What is your competitive advantage compare to competitors?
We produce high quality stationery and gifts at a reasonable price. In an age of computer generated imagery on products, I feel we stand out with our hand-done aesthetic; our products feature hand-painted illustrations and many of our cards are hand-decorated with Swarovski crystals. We only produce things we love, and I hope that shows!
What were your most successful projects/exhibitions so far or what projects did you enjoy the most so far?
We are currently having a touring exhibition of our limited edition Bejewelled prints in luxury department stores around the world such as Harrods and Berlin’s Quartier 206 which has been fantastic. Projects I personally loved working on were illustrating for the Berkeley hotel’s fashion afternoon tea, Pret-a-Portea because I love fashion and I love tea, and also illustrating for Japanese Vogue, which was something I had always wanted to do.
What are the main challenges maintaining your business and how are you overcoming them?
The chief challenges are that we constantly stay ahead and generate new ideas, and also that we are savvy enough about production and design to ensure that we always produce great quality goods at a fair price. But these are also the things that make it fun.
What would you say has been your most memorable experience while developing your business?
I recently went to Japan for an exhibition of my work and painted live in the Mitsukoshi flagship store which was quite an experience! I couldn’t believe the enthusiasm it was met with and people even came back to give me presents, sometimes travelling 2 hours just for that. It was very touching. Plus the food there was amazing!
Why do you choose Shoreditch to run your business in?
I live in Shoreditch and love the area, and as it is both quirky and creative it fits Anzu perfectly. We wanted a space where we could have our studio, but also host Pop-up shops on different themes from time to time. Our studio at 2 Hoxton Street, opposite the Electricity Showrooms is just the perfect location for this. So keep watching, we’ve got lots planned!
How would you describe the art scene in Shoreditch/East London?
Cutting edge, urban, and constantly changing.
What is your view about the recent development of Shoreditch?
One of the things I love about Shoreditch is that it isn’t full of Rymans, Boots and Marks and Spencers. I am sure at some point this will change, but I hope that all the little boutiques, markets and everything that make the area so characterful and inspiring will stay too. But I like that more and more Londoners and tourists are visiting Shoreditch.
Who/what are your favorite Artists/Businesses in the area?
Mawi on Calvert Avenue for its great bling jewellery, the Les Trois Garcons shop for its unusual antiques, the Bookandart bookshop for the really unusual books that you can’t find anywhere else, and Athena Procopiou who produces great scarves in her studio on Clifton street.
What are your favorite places in Shoreditch?
I love going to Columbia road and buying an armful of roses, eating the deep fried artichokes or quail’s eggs at Brawn, drinking margaritas at Boho Mexica or Bar Kick, wandering down Brick Lane for vintage clothes and drinking green tea whilst watching a film in the Electric cinema.
What does the future has in store for Shoreditch?
Shoreditch is ever changing and you never know which direction it will go in. This is one of the many things I love about the area.
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