After falling for her adorable creations, I am excited to bring you this interview with French designer Juliette Collet, owner of Zü. Juliette lives in Marseille with her husband and daughter.
– Tell us a bit about your creative journey to here
I’ve always drawn and created, ever since I was a child. I am from a family of artists. My father and two uncles are in the arts which has had a huge influence on me.
I’m a graphic designer by training and spent 15 years in this profession. I started my own business Zü while still working as a graphic designer, and have only recently given that up to devote myself full time to Zü.
– What does ‘Zü’ mean?
My nickname is “juju” or “ju”. I tried to imagine how a small child would pronounce it and I came up with “zuzu” and ” zu “. In the end I chose Zü for its fun feel, and the ü (with a trema/umlaut) for the graphical effect.
– How did your label ‘Zü’ come about?
I made my first cloud cushion just after the birth of my daughter Joséphine two years ago. I then made a lot of other accessories for her room, and I had just decided I wanted to start selling them when a friend suggested she stock them in a new shop she was creating. And that is when the great adventure began for me!
I kept working part-time in the beginning, to see how it would go and whether my creations would be well received. I got coverage in a number of publications and in the press, and then other shops who ask me to put my products in their shops. I was very lucky!
– Where do you sell your products?
In six shops online (including Tante Suzie, Youshou, Yume Store, My Little Square and Pivoine et Tapioca) and in shops in several in cities in France – Yume Store and Les Mégères in Paris, L’instant Poétique in Lyon and Mobile de Curiosité in Marseille.
I have them in one English shop (FuzzyZebra) too, which makes me very happy!
– How do you split your working time?
I spend a lot of time – probably around 60% – making my products, cutting fabric, doing embroidery etc. I make everything by hand!
I spend around 20% on marketing and communication, which I really enjoy too. I spend quite a lot of time updating my blog with photographs of my work and life. This is a really important communication tool for me.
The remaining 20% is spent on creating new products and searching for materials, like vintage tissue.
– What has been the most challenging thing for you as you have grown your business?
The sheer amount of work! Sometimes I feel like I am not giving enough time to care for myself and my family, but it is a must at this stage of a business like mine!
– And what has been the best part?
The most delightful has been the amazing feedback from people, and the positive coverage in the press and various publications.
– What advice would you give to someone who is starting out?
Do what you can to have some sense of financial security to start – a small financial safety net can be a huge help. And be patient. If it is meant to be it will work!
– How do you juggle work and family life?
I try to be really organized, and not feel guilty if I am working at night when everyone is asleep.
The ideal I am aiming for would be to spend all day working and be with family in the evening. It helps to have a patient and understanding husband!
– What do you do to relax?
I spend time with my husband and my daughter, and try to make time for my friends.
– What is your big dream for your creative business?
To grow and develop my range of products and have them sold all over the world. Why not! And I hope it continues to make me happy!
[This interview first appeared on Do What You Love on April 21 2011.]