This week I am interviewing one of our Own!! Akiko creates beautiful, inspiring, sculptural pieces and I just love them. I first discovered Akiko at one of Craft Centrals events and couldn't resist purchasing a piece, I actually think I need more!
Since then Akiko has grown from strength to strength!
Akiko is now a member of our Facebook Community Group so I asked her a few questions about her business and how she started.
- Do you have creative habits or rituals in your work that helps you stay focused and happy?
Staying fit and healthy is an essential part to stay focused and happy. I do running and take a contemporary dance class. Sometimes I go to Buddhist Centre to do meditation. Listening to nice music and seeing good art and design also make me happy.
- What is the meaning of 'creative' to you?
For me, being innovative by making something which nobody has done before. To do that you have to be free and honest with yourself and being unique.
- If you could collaborate on a creative project or idea with anyone... who would it be & why?
It would be amazing if I could collaborate with contemporary dance company because I am interested in the relationship between art and body.
- Do you have a favorite piece of equipment that inspires your day to day process?
Lots of online media especially Instagram and Pinterest.
- What is the best thing about working for yourself?
- What is the proudest creative moment in your journey so far?
Our jewelry collection got featured by big museums such as Tate, the British Museum and Fashion and Textile Museum, which was one of my dreams when I started my business. Also our recent collaboration with the high-end Japanese fashion brand ‘matohu’ for their SS2018 collection.
- Tell us about your business
MYSTIC FORMS is a handcrafted jewelry collection by a London-based Japanese artist Akiko Ban, co-directed with a graphic designer Taiyo Nagano.
Akiko is a practicing artist known for her lively drawings and sculptures that seek to establish a primitive, naturalistic and spiritual view of the world. In the process of creating this ‘Wearable Art’, she aims to create a special ritualistic and theatrical art object that acts as a prop and converts the wearer into an art piece themselves.
Akiko holds an MFA in Sculpture from Slade School of Fine Art and a BA in Drawing from Camberwell College. Her works have been exhibited internationally and her recent projects include the collaboration with Basement Jaxx and the high-end Japanese brand ‘matohu’. Her drawing was selected for RA summer show 2016.
- What part of being a designer do you prefer? The Creative, Sales, social or marketing side?
Of course, the creative as I’m an artist! I also enjoy talking with customers and get the direct feedback from them.
- What ideas did you take action on/steps you took to get your business up and running?
MYSTIC FORMS started as part of my artistic research project which explores the relationship between art and body. I have chosen jewelry as my medium to demonstrate my belief that art should be more accessible, personal and enjoyable for everyone. I am interested in how people’s perception of themselves changes by wearing my mystic artworks.
- What has been the most effective way of building your tribe for your business and getting new customers?
I would say being active on social media and stay connected with your followers and customers. Taking part in trade shows also helped me a lot to get exposure.
- What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Managing cash flow is always challenging.
- How did you overcome these challenges?
I am still learning a lot but trying to keep an eye on numbers carefully. I also get practical advice from other entrepreneurs.
- What do you love the best about running your own business?
Perfect freedom on what I do. How I design products, how I sell them through what channel and in what time line. However, you have to be perfectly responsible for the result.
- What would you give to other creative entrepreneurs?
Stay focused and do what you really love!
- How do you keep motivated when you are having a bad day?
Listen to good music, go for running and eat nice food!
- What platforms do you use to sell your products?
My online shop, market events and wholesale to retailers.
- What ones are the most successful for you?
Wholesale to retailers especially museum shops.
Thank you so much Akiko you have been amazing, I am sure this will help a lot of another designer with ideas and inspiration!
Katherine ICW x