Friday, January 25, 2013

Interview with a Star - MulberryWhisper


My name is Irina and I am the owner of MulberryWhisper shop on Etsy.
 …This is a strange thing to say for me. I am a fashion designer born and educated in Soviet Union, and I have never been supposed to have a shop. My mother and two aunts were fashion designers, too, and they were quite well known in Uzbekistan and in USSR in general, so it was natural for me to choose the same path. However all of us worked for state owned enterprises only.

I graduated from the Textile Design University and worked at clothing factory here in Tashkent as a designer, making things for people to wear. I was very happy to see my designs worn by people in the street, and if my daughter Eugenie was with me, I would always tell her – “See that cream suit? It is my design!”. I missed this feeling later…
After USSR ceased to exist, our factory stopped producing clothes. I worked from home for many years, but it did not give me the same level of satisfaction. I guess I was lacking a certain degree of freedom an artist needs. I often had to make designs I did not like, just because I needed to earn money. I had to work with fabrics chosen by the customers, and often those were synthetic fibers which looked and felt bad, in my view, but I had no choice. Of course I tried to give advice and to show alternatives but I still felt restrained.
We had been thinking of a brick and mortar shop for a while but we did not feel we had the needed capacity for that. I am not much of an administrator, and Eugenie has time consuming day job. Then at some point she told me about Etsy; she also bought some very nice things there. And somehow we decided to try Etsy as a platform for our shop, and we are very happy we did. We are to celebrate our first year on Etsy in the beginning of spring. We love Etsy and our shop.
I make clothing to order, using traditional Uzbek silk fabrics, mostly with ikat patterns which are so unique and beautiful. I believe that Uzbek fabrics are pieces of art which reflect the soul of our people – bright and full of light. I love the combination of traditional ethnic fabrics with contemporary clothing design; this gives my customers an opportunity to own a wearable piece of art which is versatile and practical. Many of my designs can be worn to the office or for a special occasion, as they are easy to wear and combine with other pieces. I also do my best to make my designs flattering for women, to emphasize their beauty. I am very happy to receive great feedback from our customers and I am glad to know that my designs are loved and used, not just stored in the closet.
 I also make pillow covers from silk ikat fabrics (adras, bekasab, khan atlas), Uzbek silk velour (bakhmal), Uzbek suzani (traditional embroidery) and rugs. These pieces bring a spirit of adventure and travels to the homes of our customers: some of them have an almost barbarian tribal feel, while others are lush and luxurious. All of those are made in limited quantities, and often are one of a kind.
 In addition, we offer lovely Uzbek silk scarves, and some of our customers already seem to have nice collections. These fabrics come in limited quantities, and there are very small chances for the buyers to see someone else wearing “their” scarves. We also occasionally sell beautiful vintage Russian wool shawls and scarves, when we find new old stock available.
I use a lot of vintage fabrics and rugs, and this approach feels right to me. There are plenty of vintage supplies here in our country; they are beautiful, unique, rare, and made from natural fibers. I believe in using as much vintage as possible, sometimes upcycling, to rescue the wonderful fabrics and also to somewhat relieve the burden on natural resources. We have a huge collection of vintage Uzbek silks and some of those are shared out in our shop.
Our first year was quite successful, despite the fact that we only worked for about six months altogether. We are very grateful to all the wonderful customers of ours, especially the first ones, who believed in us when we had no feedback and our photos were very poor. We want to give our special thanks to the Russian Artists’ Team on Etsy which continues providing invaluable support. And, of course, we are very grateful to Etsy! Etsy has given me and my daughter a wonderful opportunity to meet new people and learn new things, besides earning money. We have acquired several very good friends and we hope that friendship lasts and business develops.
All the best to you in 2013, and please come and visit us at MulberryWhisper and at our blog, MulberryWhisper.com!


25 comments:

bysiki said...

Great things!

Vasilinka said...

Very interesting!
A beautiful shop with a bright and stylish things!

Irina Tretyakova said...

I've learnt so many interesting about Mullbery Whisper!

woolsolution said...

Wonderful story. Wish you success!

MagazinIL said...

Very interesting story !!!

Arctida said...

Ooohhh! I love MulberryWhisper shop! I'm a proud owner of their custom made silk blouse and I absolutely adore it!

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