We had the good fortune of connecting with Julie Pinzur and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Julie, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I was always interested in the construction of sewn goods from a young age. I would take clothing and bags and deconstruct them to see how they were put together so I could then create my own versions. Upon doing this [unbeknownst to me at the time] research I came to realize that most items, especially bags are cheaply and poorly made. I didn’t understand how a brand could make a decision to produce a worse product with inferior materials and construction techniques on purpose and disperse it into the world without a heavy conscience.
Growing up I was always very expressive, especially through my clothing. My experience was that wearing bright, fun colors not only let me voice my inner sensibilities and personality but it also heightened the mood of myself and others around me. I feel very strongly that color has a positive impact on our disposition as well as the filter we see the world though. When trying to find items to wear that fit into how I wanted to express myself I found it limiting looking for options that were fun without being plain solid colors, unnecessarily loud, tacky, or clothing for children. When it came to bags, the market for well made fun & functional options was nonexistent. Everything was either low quality fast fashion items made for tweens or the occasional solid color option from established accessories companies that almost resembled a bright hue.
When I was studying Illustration at Parsons The New School, I was able to take my design skills and merge them with my developed sewing skills to create what I felt was missing. My goal and my passion became to create fun and functional bags and apparel that were well made using high quality materials and construction methods that promote positivity and good vibes with unique and unexpected palettes, graphics, and prints- what is now my brand, Mokuyobi. It has always been super important to me to be transparent about my intentions and brand objectives by making all of our products in the USA and offering a Lifetime Warranty on all of the bags.
My mission is to make the world a better place by filling it with beautiful, useful, and quality products that are made ethically and locally. Too many times brands launch as a way to get rich quick and cash out, making items as inexpensive as possible to get the highest return as fast as they can and abandoning all of their customers in one fell swoop. For me it was always crucial to communicate that what I create is my life and my spirit.
My work and self are synonymous – it is everything that I want to trumpet from my very core. I am Mokuyobi and Mokuyobi is me. Starting a business that comes from an absolutely genuine place with steadfast goodness is the only way to fly.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Creating the art and design for Mokuyobi is my absolute favorite aspect of my job. Being an artist who runs a business is very challenging as 80% of the work that I do is running the business where only 20% is actually creating art that becomes products. As Mokuyobi has grown there has definitely been a huge decrease in the time that I have to be creative. In recent years the art that I create is mostly a means to an end for a specific product instead of starting as something loose and then being tweaked and developed into each product. I certainly miss spending time drawing, painting, sewing, and woodworking but I also love the aspect of having a business where I can share my art with people across a larger landscape. A brand is merely an artist that knows how to merchandise and market their work. The purpose of my products are to be continually useful and uplifting so the more people that I can share them with the greater the overall impact can be. My art style is to create a feeling of playfulness without being cutesy, mundane, or realistic. I enjoy creating silly nonsensical characters, patterns with abstract shapes, unusual compositions, and fresh color palettes with the point of turning a product whose purpose is to be useful and functional into something relaxed and approachable in hopes of making the world a little less serious.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
A few of my favorite LA FOOD spots are: Fugetsu-do- Three words: Peanut. Butter. Mochi. The oldest confectionery in the country with the most delicious fresh made mochi. A Little Tokyo legend. Kagura downtown- Yummy Japanese food in Little Tokyo- love their tempura brussel sprouts and Udon with shrimp. Pita GR- The BEST Greek food in all of LA. It’s in Downey but it’s worth the trip, all of their flavors are on point. Don’t forget to order a baklava Greek yogurt. Louks Greek Baby Donuts- Actually owned by the same people they serve donut holes covered in peanut butter, banana, and chocolate sauce. They’re SO good. Eagle Rock Kitchen- Awesome Fillipino food that is our Sunday go-to for brunch. Cos & Pi- One of the only restaurants in our corner of South Pasadena, they have the most delicious burgers and don’t even get me started on their homemade Au Gratin Hash Brown. Diddy Riese- an amazing west side spot that makes top shelf cookies and cookie sandwiches! Ko Juice- Super yummy fresh sugar cane juice in Glendale. It’s so fun to watch them extract the juice from the cane. The ginger one is my absolute favorite! LA SHOPPING: Mokuyobi is opening our first flagship store in Little Tokyo in May and I will definitely be bringing everyone to see it! The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I wouldn’t be where I am without the guiding help and support of my parents as well as my fiancé Alex Seastrom who has been consequential in growing my business not only as Mokuyobi’s production manager but as my sounding board and an unlimited wealth of knowledge and expertise.
Other: personal instagram @juliepinzur