This column gets more and more exciting for me every week. I absolutely love sending out my questionnaire, getting the answers back and reading through them. Even though the people I’ve been interviewing are mostly close friends of mine, it’s really interesting to listen to their stories and find out more about them. You might remember that I started out with Nicola Hohls, a layout & magazine designer. Last week I spoke to Harriet Stockwell, an avertising art director, and now we’re chatting to Robyn Britz from Zana, the brains and creative head behind the Cape Town based brand.
Robyn is a really good friend of mine. Now I know I’ve said this before with the previous two posts, but in this case we’ve been friends since we were 6 years old. She broke my finger, we sat next to each other in Grade 7, we had lots of fights, lots of amazing sleepovers and made a million memories together growing up. Robyn has always been super creative – her mom’s been involved in printing since forever, and I always remember going to her house after school and there would always be crafty sort of stuff lying around, and lots of colored paper, and we used to get creative in between prank calls and swimming in the pool. She used her background in brand communication and coupled it with her insanely tenacious and go-getting attitude and launched an amazing brand called Zana (You might remember that I shared some photos from their studio a while ago) with her mother Sue. Add the talented interior designer, Melissa Nunnerly, to their team and they’ve gone from cushion covers to tote bags to table runners to pouches to covering chairs to taking on the world one seriously cool print at a time.
• What job do you have and what is your company’s name?
I am co-owner and head creative of a small business called Zana. We design textiles which we sell by the meter as well as develop into finished goods such as pouches, cushions, totes, tableware etc. We are an online store and sell to every corner of the globe from our studio in Woodstock.
• What does your job entail?
I do the designs and decide on the creative vision for our products (with a little more help now days.) I photograph new products, edit photos and work on the website. Because we are mainly an online store I am constantly updating the website and photographs of our products (which is in essence what sells them.) I also maintain our business blog, do admin and social media.
• Where and when did you study, and how long did it take?
I studied BA Creative Brand Communication specialising in MultiMedia Design at Vega in Cape Town – It took 3 years and I finished at the end of 2012.
• Do you feel that your creative tertiary education was a huge influence on your career, and why?
Well, I wouldn’t say huge, but it definitely did influence my career. I feel like I have always had the drive and work ethic to my name but tertiary education just taught me how to think, I grew up, learnt how to use programs and obviously improved my design eye. I also learnt a lot about branding which is important as I now manage my brand.
• What’s your favourite thing about what you do?
I absolutely love my job. I get to be creative every day and I’m inspired by the fact that I have created something that people want to own. It’s also my creative vision, which you cannot put a price on.
• Describe your ‘average day’ in the office…
I come in at around 9 (normally 9:15 because I’m off getting coffee somewhere – like Skinny Legs, my new favourite spot.) I get in, make sure my production ladies are okay and packaging orders. I check my emails and generally get into my to-do list. I will reply to customers, send out tracking numbers and discuss wholesale queries with the team. Small business involves being jack of all trades and I do more admin than most would think! I will also do some creative, shoot a blog DIY for our blog, queue posts for social media, Instagram some things and then I’m off home at 5.
• What do you wish you had known before you picked your career?
Before I had chosen a creative career I wish I had known that it’s hard work and everyone has a different taste, you just have to be yourself and be great at that!
• What kind of person would make the ideal creative entrepreneur?
An ideal creative entrepreneur needs to eat sleep and breathe their business, at least until it has its own legs. Starting small is fine, we did that, but when the time comes to give it your full energy, you need to be ready. You need to be a ‘do-er,’ many people talk about and dream up amazing ideas but never get it going. I think of something and then make it happen and that is definitely what has gotten us this far! Be willing to compromise on your social life and work harder than everyone around you. It also all depends on what growth you have projected for your business. You need to believe in what you do and feel inspired by it.
• Did you always know what you wanted to do, or how old we’re you when you knew what you wanted to be?
To be honest, up until 3rd year I wanted to be a web developer. I love computers, coding and the internet. College left me with mixed feelings about creative jobs, I tried my hand at a little advertising and that really wasn’t for me. I was freelancing from early on in college and I guess that’s when I really knew that I had the will power to do things on my own. Zana only really came into play just before I left college when we launched a few products. I decided not to apply for a job after college and set up my desk giving the business my full time and it honestly has sky rocketed beyond my expectations with local and international sales. I have since then been able to call this my full time job and it’s the best!
• If you could go back and change anything on your journey to the job you have and love now, what would it be?
Actually nothing! I would love to have learnt how to sew somewhere along the line. But I’m a serial jack of all trades and sometimes I just need to accept that I can’t know how to do everything!