Zen By Z Q and A
By Rachel Fuchs and Zale Funstun
Rachel: What made you want to start this business?
Zale: Initially I just wanted to make some extra cash independently. Most of my friends had jobs where they worked by the hour on specific days of the week I needed something flexible. While I love creating what I sell, I definitely consider it a job and take it seriously.
Q: What was the inspiration behind this name?
A: My first initial is “Z” which makes alliterations very difficult. The word “Zen” seemed to fit with the theme of buddhas and the whole peaceful, happy, vibe I was trying to convey.
Q: Why so many Buddhas?
A: I love this question! The reason behind the Buddhas stems a lot from the fact that I wanted a symbol that didn't have a negative connotation. A lot of my art is inspired by people and music that can come across as angsty, like rappers and even eras like the 1920’s. There is a lot of cigarette holding and skin showing in my paintings which I love and have no problem with but wanted a more wholesome image. To me, Buddha symbolizes all things good. Regardless of your religion or spiritual beliefs, everyone can learn from Buddha.
Q: What was the hardest/easiest part in getting this started?
A: The hardest part was definitely getting the documentation to create a business on Etsy. There is a lot more paperwork involved than most people would think. I am also very technologically challenged, so it took me a good hour to scan in my passport and do all that fancy stuff. The easiest part for me was finding the support and inspiration. My dad is an entrepreneur and offered to help me start my business financially. A percent of each order goes to paying him back and luckily orders have been consistent. I am also fortunate enough to have the kind of friends that regardless of if they like my art they will always encourage it.
Q: What advice would you give to young business owners like yourself?
A: Never compare your business's process of growth to anyone else's. When you start a business, you think of it as your baby, so as much as you are protective of it when it comes to other’s comments your very critical. Now my attitude is like “if it doesn't sell it doesn't sell, just put up whatever you want.” There has to be an equal balance of self-expression and then what you think your audience would enjoy. If you prioritize sales too much, you won't be happy making the stuff, and if you just make whatever you think is cool, you won’t make as many sales. Always listen to feedback with your own ideas in mind.
Q: What projects are you working on now?
A: Right now I’m more focused on my jackets then the jewelry. A lot of it has to do with the time of year. Everyone is finding out where they are going to college and so making college-themed jackets is super rewarding and exciting.
Q: What do you use to gain inspiration for your projects?
A: Pinterest, Tumblr and old movies! I watch a lot of foreign films because most of the time they are shot with more of an appeal to aesthetic. The colors and concepts in these movies are a lot more applicable to me then looking at photos.
Q: Anything else you want Zenith reader to know about ZenbyZ?
A: Yes! If you use the coupon code “for Zenith” you can get 15% off buddha necklaces for the whole month of may! Also, give Zenbyzdesigns on Instagram a follow for updates and custom jacket orders!