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Meet the maker

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi, I'm Julie Pinzur! I grew up in the North Suburbs of Chicago and have bumped around since then to Ohio, New York City, Tokyo, and now live in Sunny Los Angeles, California. I've never been a fan of pants so thinking back now it all makes sense that I would end up here. I'm a super neat freak but if I'm working on a project my office will turn into a complete disaster while I focus on making something amazing. Then afterwards, I'll clean up and start all over. I've always gravitated towards colors and have a very fun, playful, and casual style. I find that the best way to be an adult is to take a part of childhood with you, not to abandon it in the past. I'm all about working hard at what I do best while remembering to have fun along the way. My office and house are constantly mistaken for a preschool which makes me seriously concerned for the modern adult. I love cheese and I have 3 cats who also all love cheese, one- Teeny I've had for 9 years, she moved from New York with me. And the other two- Caboose and Grape- they are orange tabby brothers which we found in my boyfriend's garage. I love doing handstands and was a competitive springboard diver in high school & college. I still get my flip on at the Rosebowl Pool in Pasadena in the summer. My office is directly across the street from my house which means I have a 30 second work commute which is pretty good for a city where the biggest complaint is the traffic.

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Tell me a bit about your work and how you began making it.

It started with sewing which was a love of mine since I was thirteen. I did home economics at school and really enjoyed it. I would always buy garments and bags and rip them apart to see how they were put together. Construction was my favorite part of the design process. I didn’t know you could start a business or do the kind of thing I was interested in doing until much later; it was just a hobby for me. In high school I would make presents for my friends with found fabric prints and solids at local fabric stores but never felt like a project was truly my own unless I created every piece of it myself including the print. I studied Illustration at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City and really found my visual voice. It was then that I was able to fully merge my sewing and textile design to create what Mokuyobi is today.

I have always been very interested in bag construction from the beginning. What is your bag but your on-the-go house? When you're out and about you gotta be organized, able to access your necessities easily, and look good doing it! I felt there was a large hole in the market for fun & functional Made in the USA bags and it's been my passion since day one.

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Do you have a favorite project or piece that you’ve created?

I love everything that we produce because that's what makes Mokuyobi what it is but truthfully it's the art projects that I do on my own that fuel it all. One of my favorite pieces is a baby quilt I made a few years ago that now acts as a wall hanging in my office. I love all the different colors, textures, and patterns inside it and it's really fun to look at. At the end of the day my favorite thing it actually doing the making which you do less of when you run a business. You end up spending a lot more time running a business. 

I started a new project last year that I hope to continue this year called, FUNHOUSE, where I make one-offs or super limited productions for products that I create just for fun as a creative outlet and sell at high-end prices. I love this idea so much because it's impossible to produce every idea I have and really hard to narrow them down for each season. I am constantly pushing print designs and design ideas to the following year because our production schedule is full. This way I get to put my ideas out there without having to wait 6 months to release the full collection.

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Are there any artists or companies that inspire you or your work?

I always try to consciously think about my specific vision and be driven by what excites me creatively. I think on the path of what Mokuyobi means to me for what it is now and what I want it to be. I find it distracting to focus on or look upon other brands for direction as my goal is and always has been to fill a void for product that doesn't exist; To create into a black hole. 

I find a large disconnect between creating product for consumerism and the zeitgeist of the current trends and being true to yourself as an artist and trusting your gut in your vision of what you know to be beautiful, functional, necessary, and forward thinking. But having a brand is the merging of these things that are difficult to unmix.


What is your creative process like?

I thrive on rules that I create for myself. I love themes and narrowing the scope on what it is allowed to be. I expand each print, theme, or season within those parameters to really squeeze the full potential out of any specific idea.


What is the hardest part about what you do?

The hardest part about what I do is having to wear many hats. Some of them I'm not good at wearing but I have to navigate how to handle issues in areas that aren't my forté while juggling all of my other responsibilities and tasks.

Do you have any advice you’d give a young artist hoping to embark on a creative path?

Be unique. Practice your style and make what you love but bring a new perspective to the field that you create in. Uniqueness and originality will set you apart from your peers.


What is your workspace like?

I like to think my workspace is a window into what the inside of my brain looks a bit like. There's a lot to look at. It's filled with a ton of knick knacks and meticulously organized desk accessories in every [good] color you can imagine along with a mess of what I'm currently working on sprawled along the floor. Four sewing machines each with their specific use line the wall, a cutting table, and a computer desk keep the company of hundreds of pieces of paper with notes and drawings taped to the walls.

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What are you working on right now?

Right now I am designing our Spring and Summer 2020 collections and trying to narrow down visual themes and styles for ideas I've been wanting to explore. Each season I release 3 or 4 new prints which we make all of our styles in but next summer I'm working on a project that will let me expand on my print designs in a big way without having to postpone prints I want to make.


If or when you find yourself in a creative rut, how do you get yourself out of it?

I find myself much more commonly in a "time rut" or in a situation where business tasks take priority over creative ones where I have tons of ideas and things I want to make but not enough time to do them. I have bought endless sketchbooks and find that after I fill out the first two pages they just collect dust. Mokuyobi has grown exponentially in the past few years which has been a big reason that time has been tight as I navigate some happy growing pains but 2019 is looking like it's going to be an easy ride and I'm excited to crack open a sketchbook and create some fun projects.

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