7 Minutes with Shana Azahari of Azooi
Dare to be different
Painter and former model Shana Azahari never thought she'd be creating limited edition clutch bags from scratch when she was younger. But the idea sprung when she realized that she was more driven by the idea of creating instead of merely building any other typical fashion-inclined brand. Incorporating her artistic expertise and eye for colours and textures, Azahari founded Azooi with a team of artists and makers, specializing in handmade clutches made from organic and manmade materials. One thing that sets Azooi's clutches apart from the typical handheld bags in the market lie in each individual design—no two clutches are the same due to the nature how it is made as well as the materials used.
We had a quick chat with the founder on her favourite medium to work with and important lessons she has picked up along her artistic and entrepreneurial journey:
1. What inspired you in this journey from the start?
The need to create. Since kindergarten I used to make up school projects to get my dad to help me make cool things. Then school ended so a business become a legitimate excuse.
2. How do you constantly stay inspired and find inspiration?
I definitely do not think I am constantly inspired but I am aware of that. That fact helps me open my eyes and seek things that move me. I find that in art and in nature.
3. Tell us your background before founding Azooi.
I studied Philosophy and Economics at University College London in England. Upon graduation, I came home and started modelling for a little while before starting Azooi.
4. Have you always wanted to design?
Not particularly. I liked painting and that’s what led to us making art clutches.
5. Your work features acrylic paint and a few other organic materials such as woods and shells—do you have a favourite medium to work with?
Our new favourite medium to work with is probably acrylic sheets. I really like combining it with painted wood to create a juxtapose of materials that surprisingly harmonises in an aesthetic sense.
6. Please guide us through a process of creating an Azooi clutch from scratch.
After we’ve dreamed up a piece, we think of the details like dimensions which we then use to build mock clutches using paper then we move on to experimenting with the materials we want to use. For most of our clutches, the bases are made with Fibreglass using moulds (which we hand-make) and sunlight is used to set the bases. After we paint or embellish the bags, we finish the outsides with clear resin and we line the insides with quilted satin.
7. What significance does art have in your life?
It started in college when I went on a trip around Europe. I was big on the museums and art galleries that seemed to be on every other street corner. People created for any reason. I fell in love then with this constant celebration of beauty and I never wanted to leave that feeling behind. I started painting and it has since become my way of sharing with the world.
8. An important piece of advice you’d like to share with us?
Whatever you want to do, just do it. If you are going to fail, fail and get on with it. There is little value in fear and in regret.
9. Your idea of a perfect getaway?
Somewhere where I can turn off my phone and just enjoy everything going on around me.
10. A favourite place you love to travel to or would love to explore in the future?
I’d love to go and spend more time in Spain. Their way of life appeals to me and I had loved walking aimlessly around Barcelona- you could be in the city and a few turns away you find yourself to be in some ancient place with a busker playing music seemingly from a different time. It was also amazing to see so much graffiti everywhere but never on the old buildings. The respect and pride for their culture and history was evident.
11. What is your ultimate goal for Azooi?
To grow the business and allow for a lot more experimentation and artistic effort between young creatives and older artisans.
12. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in your career?
Only work with people that add value and acknowledge their value. I think when we stop treating people like they are just filling a vacancy, they will go beyond treating their jobs as just a means to get by. They will be able to bring in their passion, their ideas and most importantly they will have a sense of pride in their work that will hold them more accountable to doing the best job they can far better than a scary boss will.
Azooi is available at Cuevolution.com and ShoesShoesShoes in Malaysia. Visit Azooi.com for more information.