Think Big, Shop Small: Fison Zair
Meet Katy the founder of Yorkshire based jewellery brand Fison Zair, crafting wearable works of art from polymer clay. Katy's creativity has taken her all over the world but she will always be Yorkshire lass at heart, setting up her business in her garden studio in Sheffield. We find out how it all happened in this little Q&A!
Tell us about Fison Zair
Fison Zair is colour and design studio creating small batches of handcrafted contemporary homewares and wearables.
Designs tend to be fairly bold and colourful with an element of intrigue, whether it be in the print design, in the embossed textures and just the fact that they are so lightweight, when you don’t expect them to be. The collection has developed from necklaces to earrings to wall hangings and homewares. All the products are handmade by myself, Katy, in my garden studio in Sheffield.
Where did the name ‘Fison Zair’ come from?
The studio’s name is inspired by my Granddads; Fison and Isaiah ('Zair' for short). Despite the exotic sounding name they were true Yorkshire folk, skilled craftsmen in Sheffield Steel Works. (Pronounced F-eye-sun Z-air in proper northern accent!) Having an inquisitive and creative yet frugal lifestyle, they utilised, treasured and repaired everyday objects.
What made you decide to take the plunge and start up your own business?
I started working with polymer clay about four years ago when I discovered the material allowed me to play with colour, form, print and texture in the same way that working with textiles had done during my degree and MA. But I knew long before that that I wanted to work for myself, so the idea has really been there most of my life, I just wasn’t quite sure what form it was going to take.
So you have a creative background- tell us a little bit more about that?
I studied textile design and innovation. Whilst at uni I learned what I really loved about design. I love working with colour, experimenting with texture and form and designing products that people were intrigued to touch and interact with. Emotionally durable design underpins all my work deep down.
You’ve worked in some amazing places- what drew you back to Yorkshire?
I took a year out whilst at university to work within lots of different areas of the textile industry. I quickly learned that I like to work with products that have longevity and a handcrafted feel. I worked all over the world, London, New York, Copenhagen and Japan. It allowed me to take influence from different cultures and experience different industries.
But I always knew at some point I would return home to Sheffield. The city is becoming more vibrant and creative everyday but we’re also on the brink of the countryside so you really gain from the best of both worlds. I also love working and being at home. I always thought I’d work within the interior sector (and still do in my day job) so I like to take pride in my home and fill it with lovely found and handmade treasures.
What is your favourite piece to create in the Fison Zair collection?
I am really pleased that I finally found the time to develop my wall hangings. There is something really special about knowing when someone purchases one of these they love it enough to hang it in their home and look at it every day. My large arch terrazzo earrings are also a winner!
How do you stay creative?
I try to stay creative by exploring new ideas. After a long day of maybe making a big (slightly repetitive) order I always try to spend just 15 minutes trying something new. It might be an idea that I’ve had in my head for ages or just a new colour combination or just using up some remnant clay and this helps me to keep inspired and can bring a fresh perspective to the next day, renewing motivation. It may be that I don’t pick up that idea for a long time again, but I keep a box of samples that I can always refer back to when it is time for a new project.
What is your biggest inspiration?
I am always inspired by colour and texture. This is a really dominant part of my process and is often the starting point to a new project. I might have seen a new colour combination while on my travels and spotted a texture I want to try and replicate and with a little trial and testing it is so satisfying when you finally get there.
Best advice for other creatives wanting to start up their own business?
Just Do It! I spent far too long worrying about everything being perfect and making excuses about why I couldn’t progress. Everything does take time, but slowly and gradually it will come together and you will look over what you’ve achieved and be really proud of it.