I had promised Lisa Li and Georgia Davison that my visit to their new Kingsland studio/store; Terrarium would be done and dusted in an hour. Yeah….try close on 3 hours!
While I had blogged the bags produced by both of these young designers in the last year, I hadn’t met them in person until yesterday and as it turns out they are damn fun and inspiring company!
As I snapped and snooped around their awesome space they shared their ideas for what is essentially an open and exciting concept. Having only just shed it’s former life of being an antique store, the girls are very much still “camping-out” while they work on their vision AND look to recruit like minded creatives to enjoy them in their workshop/boutique fusion.
23 year Lisa Li moved with her family to the eastern suburbs of Auckland from China at the age of 8. Following high school she moved straight into a fashion degree at AUT from 2008-2010. Riding against what you might expect from a young designer she hattteeed to sew! This led her to research and then explore the idea of puzzled construction which meant creating garments that essentially “fit” together. She went on to use this method to create her final year project; a fantastic collection of laser cut leather jackets. Totally set on the dream of producing her range commercially she set off for China to do some research on materials and laser cutting methods. Turns out a young grad rolling solo will find it difficult to get the answers she needs within a bustling and huge industry. Not to mention the lure of the big wide world outside school which ultimately she drifted away to explore.
Once back home she started experimenting again, engaging her new ideas on simplicity and still developing her “non sewing” designs. Nuts and bolts entered the workspace as she worked on the new avenue of bag construction. She soon had a small and super interesting collection to offer and decided to present it to the team at Ruby. Rightfully so they snapped her up and in 2012 stocked MyDeerFox in their 8 stores. This has been a great springboard for her brand and she is currently working on an exclusive colourway of designs for them. In the mean time she has set up an online store and I could tell from our afternoon, that there are ideas punching through her mind everyday as she works, filling all her orders by hand.
Georgia Davison grew up beachside in Whangamata. She left school early to get the ball rolling on her dreams of a career in fashion. This began with 2 years at the Bay of Plenty Polytech before cross crediting to complete a Fashion Degree at the Otago Polytech from 2008 – 2010. She returned home for some post Uni summer sun and to ponder her next move. During this time she visited a gypsy fair where she picked up a possum skin and transformed it into a bag. Looking back – this was a pretty significant marker in what would be the birth of her brand, however, the niggling belief that she needed to get a “real job” over ruled and she headed for Auckland.
Roles as an assistant knitwear designer and then office manager for a graphic design company left her largely unsatisfied. Then an opportunity popped out of the blue! She jumped at the chance to move into a flat above an antique store on New North Road in Kingsland. The arrangement gave her ample space to begin designing again and soon enough she got the guts to leave full time employment and emerge with a beautiful signature range of leather and hide, purses and bags.
Local Whangamata store; Roar jumped in behind her, stocking her work, offering extensive support and sharing their valuable retail knowledge. Georgia Jay has since been picked up by Black Box Boutique and is growing her range with them as well as in her own online store.
In February this year there was a bit of a serendipitous meeting in the NZ Leather Suppliers stock room in Avondale. Both young designers were there sourcing material. Georgia recognised Lisa from some recent media and they were introduced at the counter by the manager. In no time they had arranged a coffee date for later that afternoon, very quickly they bonding over their common difficulties in working alone and their desire to have a shared work space. While dreaming of what this might one day look like they quickly established an easy friendship with Lisa regularly coming over to work and collaborate in Georgia’s little upstairs living room.
They were offered some of the rear space in the antique store which they gratefully took up and then just 2 weeks ago, the entire space has ended up in their lap!
Together they have christianed the studio Terrarium : “A small enclosure for keeping and raising
living plants and animals local creatives and observing them under their natural conditions” . They have created a fantastic document outlining stheir vision that will range from innovative retail space to an exciting and collaborative workshop. If you like what you see here please don’t hesitate to contact the girls to find out more. The studio is largely untouched at this point as they wait for their new team members to arrive and form it together.
Lisa – MyDeerFox: email@example.com
Georgia – Georgia Jay: firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT I LEARNT FROM GEORGIA AND LISA:
It’s a brave thing to follow your creative gut feeling when you are barely out of Uni….but if you have the ability to create something special, saleable AND be incredibly happy doing it, then be smarter than most and get cracking!